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Michael Slutzky and Ray Schwab Repeat at Arapahoe As Craig Emerson and Scott Ripley Ace Arapahoe Bs
February 25, 2015
This year's Arapahoe Invitational, hosted by Arapahoe Tennis Club and assisted by Denver Country Club and the Village Club, was a fantastic weekend of paddle in spite of Mother Nature's challenges. The men’s tournament began on Saturday, playing in heavy snow. With teams travelling from various parts of the country, the only real worry was whether they would get a flight home after two feet of snow fell Saturday and Sunday. Colorado teams triumphed in both of the men’s brackets, although teams from Missouri and Vermont were welcome additions.
The Men's B bracket drew 19 teams, all of whom came ready to rumble. Three out of the four top-seeded teams advanced to the semis with the second seeds John Speer and Brad Talbot getting upset by our new friends from St. Louis, Matt Edwards and Dave Conley. However, Edwards and Conley's run came to an end in the semis at the hands of Kent Lemon and Chuck Roosevelt, 6-2, 6-4. In the top half of the draw, Craig Emerson and Scott Ripley rolled through to the finals without dropping a set. Relatively fresh legs helped Emerson and Ripley as they jumped out with a 6-0 lead, but Lemon and Roosevelt weren't having it and swiped the next set 6-4. With plenty of snow in their faces, Emerson and Ripley held on down the stretch to take the deciding set, 6-4. There is a special note to this victory; Craig Emerson became the first player in the B bracket in fairly recent history to post the title of Triple Crown winner. Craig teamed with Ripley to take the Men's State Open, and teamed with his wife Kristi to take the Colorado State Mixed B title. Well done Craig and Scott! See you guys in the A bracket next year!
In the Men's A bracket, 14 teams were placed in groups for "qualifying rounds" instead of using a straight 16-team bracket. Why? The tournament committee likes to provide as much paddle for everyone, especially those teams who travel to our event so this format gave everyone at least five matches throughout the weekend. Once the "qualies" were completed, teams either advanced to the quarterfinals or moved into the consolation bracket.
Just as the quarters were getting started, Mama Nature got mad at us and unleashed her wrath, delaying play for close to two hours. When play resumed, conditions were playable, but barely. Rallies were short and, ultimately, the best problem solvers succeeded. Defending champs, Michael Slutzky and Jay Schwab, cruised into the finals with straight set victories over Rick Remitz and Dave Luebbe, followed by Matt Kranich and Andrew Green. On the other side of the bracket, the Boulder duo of Tom Houlihan and Curt Corrigan had a tougher road to the finals. After dropping the first set to Tom Hertzberg and Ben Burke, 7-6, Houlihan and Corrigan, fondly referred to as Team Houligan, came back to win, 6-3 and 6-2. On Sunday morning, Team Houligan survived two tough sets with Dane Schmidgall and Cory Banghart from Chicago, 7-5, 6-3, to advance to the finals. As word spread of a potential backyard brawl, players gathered to watch two teams who had played very well throughout the weekend vie for the title. However, at 2-3 in the first set, disaster for Team Houligan struck. Houlihan felt a sensation that made him ask his partner, "Did you just hit me with your paddle in the leg?" Many of us know what that means. Houlihan had torn a muscle in his calf and, unfortunately, was not able to continue. Congratulations to Slutzky and Schwab for playing a fine tournament and repeating as Arapahoe Champs.
Special thanks go to many people. First are our tournament's sponsors. We are so grateful of the support from Gregg Marston and VBT Walking and Bicycling Vacations, Aaron Berman and Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, Dan Washburne and Mile High Catering, and John Stegner and New Era Realty. Thank you to all of the tournament committee members who played a huge role in the player party and all of the meals provided over the weekend.
And last, we must thank all of you who played in our event. It is all of you who make this the biggest weekend of the year at Arapahoe Tennis Club.