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Pre-Tournament Buzz Attracts Juniors to Cleveland Open
JEROLD (J.T.) TINJACA
On February 6, the Cleveland Racquet Club (CRC) held its first Junior Paddle tournament. The highly successful event featured the talents of many local athletes.
The pre- tournament buzz circulating among paddle enthusiasts generated an unexpectedly high number of players of varying skill levels from a variety of neighboring Clubs. Two divisions were formed: Division A (Michael Hill, Gordon Newell, Scott Smith, Brooks Pinnick of the Kirtland Country Club, Austen Aten, Jared Pennington, Katie Widman, Jennifer Mazanec of the ChagrinValley Athletic Club-CVAC) and the 14 and under division (Gavin Aten, Parker Banning, Graham Outcalt, Griffin Shapiro of CVAC, Bennet Bidwell of The Country Club, Robbie Twells, Izzi Nejedlik, Megan Callanan, Olivia Nejedlik and Hannah Nielsen of The Cleveland Racquet Club).
The Division A title went to Michael Hill and Gordon Newell in a very close match over Scott Smith and Brooks Pinnick. Another highlight was a riveting tie breaker featuring Austen Aten and Jared Pennington. Two local tennis stars, Katie Widman and Jennifer Mazanec, tried their hand at Paddle for the first time and did surprisingly well.
In the 14 and under division, two very young paddle players, Gavin Aten and a newcomer, Parker Banning, outlasted the field by winning over the CRC's own Graham Outcalt and Robbie Twells for 2nd place by a margin of 2 points (32 to 30). Izzi Nejedlik and Megan Callanan, also of the CRC took 3 place honors. Olivia Nejedlik, Hannah Nielsen, Bennet Bidwell, and Griffin Shapiro, all seasoned tennis players, improved their paddle skills with each round, proving to be formidable opponents in the later rounds.
The athletes would like to thank Karen Nejedlik, Chair of theCRCPaddle Committee, for suggesting the first of what we hope to be many Junior Paddle tournaments. I would like to thank Greg Aten ofCVACwho helped round out the field, and Kirtland Country Club and The Country Club for helping to support this very successful event.