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Parsons and du Randt Wowed the Crowd in Boston
January 28, 2013
(l-r) Arraya, Jonason, Parsons, du Randt
In the sunny, but frigid Boston suburb of Weston, Massachusetts, one thought comes to mind. How do you describe the indescribable? The more than 100 platform tennis junkies watching the semi-finals and the finals would be hard-pressed to explain to their friends how extraordinary the paddle was.
Each of the eight semi-finalists possessed skills that most of us can only dream of. Defending national champions Drew Broderick and Chris Gambino faced Juan Martinez-Arraya and Lennart Jonason in one semi. The other semi featured hometown hero Johan du Randt and his partner Mark Parsons (winners of the prestigious 2012 Chicago Charities) against Alex Bancila and Matt Porter (both finalists in past APTA National Championships). The athleticism and racquet skills on both courts were extraordinary. In the end, Arraya and Jonason prevailed to take on du Randt and Parsons in the eagerly anticipated final.
Unless you have seen these players in action, you cannot truly understand their reach, their skill, and their anticipation. Arraya’s undercut spin drop shot is a thing of beauty or ugliness, depending on your perspective. (This is just one among many dazzling shots he possesses.). Jonason can do damage from either side, but it is his down-the-line drive that caused the most trouble for his opponents. Parsons pretends to be just a set-up man but his backhand is probably the most lethal in the game today and he doesn’t miss a volley. He also may create a new sport of Parkour Paddle, after his Spiderman-like climbs up the wires. Du Randt can hurt you from forehand, backhand, forecourt, and backcourt. All the players made backhand digs out of the lowest of the low corners that no amateur should try at home. In the end, the hometown favorite won, with du Randt and Parsons defeating Arraya and Jonason, 6-4, 7-5.
The entire weekend was engaging—the pros put a great deal of effort into the pre-game as much as their matches. Friday night, Bancila, Anton Mavrin, and Parsons hosted clinics for three hours in five degree weather, then du Randt joined them and some area players for a rousing Pro-Am tournament. On Saturday, when temperatures soared to the mid-teens, the players were well-loved by a throng of supporters, many who opted for outdoor seating in order to soak in the atmosphere. Cold, complimentary Mayflower and Narragansett beer added flavor to the day and evening as well.
The Beehive in Boston hosted many young athletes Saturday night, although there weren’t any great shared stories except that some finalists couldn’t find parking and never made it inside the club. Sunday morning, under bright sun and blue skies with the mercury holding steady at 20 degrees, the finals roared on. The banter of the players, the fully-engaged crowd, the scorer’s (Mark Fischl) authoritative voice, and the long, entertaining points created an exceptional ending to a talent-laden, event-filled tournament.
The Boston Men’s Open might well have had the strongest men’s field to date this year. With 40 teams entered, the first and second rounds of the tournament featured matches that in most tournaments would be the quarters or semi-finals at least.
Congratulations are due to Johan du Randt, tournament director, and his hearty volunteers for their wonderful hospitality and organization.