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Juan Arraya/Mark Parsons New National Champions in Pittsburgh
March 7-10, 2019
What a weekend it was in Pittsburgh, as the best players in the country competed at the highest level for four days. The off-the-court events, including the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, players’ party, and food trucks on Sunday made the event worthy of its designation as the APTA’s premier event. Even the weather did its part, with the rain only coming after play ended on Saturday night.
On Thursday, the Viking President’s Cup teams played all day and into the night, with Region I and Region II winning their respective brackets. The Region II men were deep, carrying more top 25 men and previous National Champions than Region I, making the final top-notch viewing for the fans. The Men’s President’s Cup went to Region II for a record seven consecutive years.
The tournament’s first two rounds were played on Friday, with all of the seeded teams advancing to the third round. On Saturday, Jeronie Barnes and Dane Schmidgall posted the only upset of a seeded team in the third round, ousting Steve DeRose and Jon Lubow (13), 7-6, 6-3. Several other seeded teams had their hands full in this round. Nathan Crick and Randy Lofgren battled for hours with Tommy Croker and Alex Hume, prevailing, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. Rob Bakker and Tyler Fraser (9) edged past Filip Rams and Casey Watt, 6-4, 7-6, Blake Anderson and Martin Bostrom (11) had their hands full with Andrea Bonfigli and Anton Protsenko but got through, 7-6, 6-4. Johan du Randt and Stephen Mitchell (15) survived Adam Gart and Thomas Nolan, 7-5, 7-6, and newly inducted Hall-of-Famer Mike Stulac and partner Scott Estes, Jr. played a tough first set against Mikk Irdoja and Jeff Morneau (8) before losing, 7-6, 6-1.
Only two of the Round of 16 matches went three sets. Marco Grangeiro/George Wilkinson (12) and Sebastian Bredberg/Max LePivert (7) played for over three hours before a hamstring injury to Bredberg slowed him down and Grangeiro/Wilkinson were able to move on in the draw. Irdoja/Morneau won the first set against Anderson/Bostrom, but were unable to hang on for the win as Anderson/Bostrom won, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The first and third seeds won their quarterfinal matches handily; defending champions John Hughes and Marc Powers (1) beat Grangeiro/Wilkinson, 6-1, 6-3 and Drew Broderick and Jared Palmer (3) looked invincible in their 6-1, 6-2 win over Marek Czerwinski and Graham McNerney. The other two quarterfinal matches were more complicated. Pete and Paul Rose (4) and Brian Compton/Scott Kahler (6) played over two hours of highly entertaining paddle. The Rose brothers gave Compton/Kahler everything they could handle, driving and volleying brilliantly, but Compton/Kahler came up with some huge drives and blitzes at big moments in the match, and that and Compton’s ability to track everything down in the backhand contributed to their 6-4, 7-5 win. Anderson/Bostrom started strong in their match with Juan Arraya/Mark Parsons (2), giving the fans at the Fox Chapel Racquet Club and those watching on Live Streaming reason to think there might be a big upset brewing. As quickly as they built their lead, however, they lost it, as Arraya/Parsons steadied their games and drew errors from their opponents. Anderson/Bostrom mounted a small comeback in the third set, but Arraya/Parsons moved on to the semifinals with a 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 win.
In the semifinal match everyone was anticipating, the 2018 National Champions, Hughes/Powers, took on the 2015-2017 National Champions, Drew Broderick and Jared Palmer. Hughes/Powers played almost flawless paddle in the first set, and raced out to a 4-0 lead. Although they couldn’t come all the way back in the first set, losing it 6-3, Broderick/Palmer had some chances in the second set, cutting down on their errors while Hughes/Powers cooled off a little bit. Broderick Palmer were always ahead in the second set, building 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3 leads, but were unable to close out the set, as Hughes/Powers took the last four games and the match, 6-3, 7-5. In the other semifinal, Compton/Kahler had no answers for the Arraya/Parsons game in the first set, losing it 6-1. The second set was a different story, as Compton/Kahler were able to utilize more of the offensive driving and blitzing that they used to win their quarterfinal match. Ultimately, they kept the second set close but couldn’t pull out the set, and Arraya/Parsons moved on to the finals, 6-1, 7-5.
The stands brimmed with fans for the men’s final, enjoying the mild weather and the hamburgers and chicken and waffles from the food trucks on site. After the high quality of the women’s final preceding it, the men’s final had a lot to live up to, and the players did not disappoint. The shot-making was dazzling, and the different spins, speed of the drives, amazing gets, and volley reflexes induced frequent gasps from the crowd. At one point, John Hughes set up to hit one of his heavy spin overheads and, as he swung, the paddle flew out of his hand, hit the court on its edge, and flew over the 12 foot screens out of the court. The players traded the first two sets, Hughes/Powers winning the first, 6-3, and Arraya/Parsons the second, 6-4. Tensions ran high in the third, each point a battle between two teams competing at the highest level of the game. When Arraya/Parsons took a 5-3 win, it looked like they would close out the match, but Hughes/Powers evened things up at 5-5. Hughes/Powers had a game point on their serve at 5-5, but were unable to convert it, and Arraya/Parsons broke and held at love to win the match. This was Arraya’s first National Championship and Parsons’ fourth.
Thank you to Tournament Director Scott Kahler, the staff at Fox Chapel Racquet Club, the entire tournament committee, and all of the other Pittsburgh clubs who contributed their courts and facilities.
Main Draw: Juan Arraya/Mark Parsons def. John Hughes/Mark Powers, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
Quarterfinal Reprieve: Marek Czerwinski/Graham McNerney def. Paul Rose/Pete Rose, 6-3, 7-6
Round of 16 Reprieve: Johan du Randt/Stephen Mitchell def. Mikk Irdoja/Jeff Morneau, 6-0, 6-1
Round of 32 Reprieve: Filip Rams/Casey Watt def. Adam Gart/Thomas Nolan, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
Round of 64 Reprieve: Lucas Green/Victor Vidal def. Eric Miller/Claes Persson, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
Consolation: Christopher Chiu/Scott Freund def. Ludo Aaron/David Held, 6-3, 6-3
Consolation Reprieve: Adam Lis/Paul Stulac def. Oliver Jones/Darren Schwandt, 7-5, 6-4
Last Chance: David Creswell/Scott Troutman def. Tomas Christian/John Carlos Cotto, 6-4, 6-4