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Niculescu-Ondrejkova and Broderick-Palmer Are Charities Champs
November 9, 2015
Young Guns Too Much for Locals in Women’s FinalIn a continuation from last month’s Patterson Club Open, the top teams were challenged early, making for a number of surprises. Unlike in Connecticut, though, some of the big dogs went down. Three-time national champion Ana Brzova, playing with national finalist Chelsea Nusslock and seeded second, lost a terrific battle to unseeded Marina Ohlmuller and Sandy Cvetkovic in the round of 16. Also going down early were the fifth, seventh, and eighth seeds. The sixth seeds, Ana Kazakevich and Heather Prop, barely escaped defeat.
On Saturday morning, the final four teams included the local Chicago pairing of Jane McNitt and Wendy Shpiz. They were facing Kazakevich/Prop, and Shpiz’s big forehand was a perfect complement to McNitt’s brilliant movement. Darting all over the court, McNitt was too much to handle, thrilling the crowd with her Flying Wallenda moves. They moved into the finals with a relatively easy win.
On the next court, the number one seeds, Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay, were facing the big-hitting young duo of Gabi Niculescu and Martina Ondrejkova, the third seeds. Dardis and Shay started out fast, but the young guns seemed to improve with every point. Combining big returns and brazen blitzing, Niculescu started dominating the court. Early in the third set, she brought out the hard overhead and the pair won the final three games with an eye-opening performance that made a major statement.
Niculescu and Ondrejkova took this momentum straight into the finals, taking the first seven games against McNitt and Shpiz. The home team tried fighting back, but the powerful youngsters would have none of it. The straight-set victory was their first at Charities. Look for a few more as they continue to grow as a team.
National Champs Dominate Men’s FinalMany were anticipating a rematch of last year’s Nationals finals as six of the top eight seeds made the quarters. In the first match, Juan Arraya and Max LePivert beat Scott Kahler and Peter Berka in a terrific match.
On the next court, the second seeds and defending national champs, Drew Broderick and Jared Palmer, were in a dog fight with Nathan LeFevre and Scott Estes, Jr. At 3-3 in the third set, it looked like LeFevre-Estes had a window of opportunity, but the champs quickly closed the door and joined Arraya-LePivert in the semis.
Things were a little more complicated on the other side of the draw. In a rematch from last season, the first Grand Prix winners Steve DeRose and Jon Lubow played Rob Bakker and Flip Goodspeed. Bakker-Goodspeed were victorious last year, but that would not be the case this time. DeRose-Lubow, following up their win at the Patterson Club, entertained the crowd with their aggressive play, winning 6-2 in the third set. They would await the winners of the top seeds, Johan du Randt and Mark Parsons, against the fifth seeds, Marco Grangeiro and George Wilkinson.
Few people outside of Grangeiro/Wilkinson thought they could win, but taking a page from Broderick’s playbook, they pulled off a tremendous upset with some brilliant volleying as well as playing patiently from the backcourt. They allowed the top seeds to beat themselves. Du Randt never appeared comfortable driving the ball and chose not to slow down play. The 6-2, 7-5 win thrilled the crowd, and Grangeiro and Wilkinson were ecstatic afterwards.
On Sunday, Broderick-Palmer quickly dispatched Arraya-LePivert inn the first semifinal, and Grangeiro-Wilkinson did the same to DeRose-Lubow. Many were anticipating a long, grinding final, but after two tight games, Broderick/Palmer showed everyone why they are the best team in the country. Palmer’s big forehand combined with Broderick’s brilliantly steady play was simply too much. Their first Grand Prix Chicago Charities victory in the bag, the teammates celebrated by hitting some balls with their good luck charm, 2-year-old Vince Broderick.
In the Men's 90+, top-seeded Mark Johnson and Greg Miller defeated Eric Arnold and Brett Smith 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Tom Parrott and Rich Seidel were the Men's 110+ champions.
Special thanks to John Noble and Shannon Vinson for their usual stellar job running the tournament, and to all the volunteers who put in time and energy to make this such a great event.