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Dardis/Shay Reign in Stormy Weather
November 3-4, 2017
The second seeds at the Chicago Charities NRT/Viking PCQ, Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay, found an ally in the bad weather on the second day of the tournament, the second Grand Prix of the 2017-2018 season. On a rainy Saturday at the Glen View Club, Dardis and Shay recovered from the brink of defeat to defeat the reigning National Champions, Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg, in the semifinals, before turning the tables on their rivals, top seeded Liz Cruz and Gabriela Niculescu, in the finals.
Several unseeded Chicago teams threatened to upend the draw earlier in the tournament. Jane McNitt and Chelsea Nusslock avenged their final round loss at the Lake Forest Open to Hallie Bodman and Liz Hayward, taking out the seventh seeds in a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 Round of 16 battle. McNitt/Nusslock then gave Dardis/Shay a scare, taking the second set in their quarterfinal match before losing in three. Laura Berendt and Alison Morgan gave the fifth seeds, Martina Ondrejkova and Ana Zubori, all they could handle, losing a very close 6-4 in the third Round of 16 encounter. Finally, Hall of Famer Mary Doten and Alice Waverly pushed Dardis/Shay in their Round of 16 match, losing in straight sets but extending the second set to a tiebreaker.
Each of the four quarterfinal matches showcased excellent women’s paddle. In the top half of the draw, Dardis/Shay got their three-set win over McNitt/Nusslock, and Hanisch/van Starrenburg showed Houdini-like abilities, somehow escaping with a win over Ondrejkova/Zubori. Ondrejkova/Zubori held a 6-3, 5-1 lead in that match, but after saving several match points, Hanisch/van Starrenburg displayed the same grit that earned them the 2017 National Championship, and grinded out a 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory. To their credit, Ondrejkova/Zubori fought to the end, coming back from 2-5 down in the third to even the match before ultimately falling just short.
The only upset in the quarters came in the bottom half of the draw, where the sixth seeds, Liz Jaffe and Myrthe Molenveld, beat the fourth seeds, Suzanne Lemery and Kelly Rohrbach. Lemery/Rohrbach won the first set 6-1, but Jaffe/Molenveld began to convert the game points that they squandered in the first set, and took the next two sets to reach the semifinals. The fourth quarterfinal match featured a showdown between the Cruz sisters, and it, too, looked like it would be a three setter. After losing the first set, Mirian Cruz and Marcella Rodezno went up 5-2 in the second and had multiple set points, but Liz Cruz/Niculescu showed why they hadn’t yet lost a match yet this season, and came back to take the match in straight sets.
Remarkably, the level of play in the women’s semifinals was high despite the steady rain. Jaffe/Molenveld kept the match close, but Liz Cruz/Niculescu were just a little too strong and won the match in straight sets. The other semifinal was a classic. The first set was close all the way, with Hanisch/van Starrenburg ultimately taking it in a tiebreaker. Dardis/Shay came back to win the second set 6-2, setting up what turned out to be a highly suspenseful third. Hanisch/van Starrenburg took a 4-2 lead and had a point for 5-2, which Dardis/Shay erased and came back to 4-4. Hanisch/van Starrenburg took at 5-4 lead, and at 30-30, Hanisch blitzed, a move that had proved successful all match, but missed a volley that would have earned her team a match point. Squandered chances often come back to haunt oppponents of Dardis/Shay, and the second seeds never gave Hanisch/van Starrenburg another chance, winning the next three games and the match, 6-7, 6-2, 7-5.
After defeating Dardis/Shay in the finals of both the Patterson Open and the PNC Steel City Open this season, Liz Cruz/Niculescu were heavy favorites heading into the Charities finals. Dardis/Shay showed why they are masterminds at learning from their losses, however, and looked like they were the favorites as they stayed in control for a straight set victory and their second Chicago Charities title.
Thank you to tournament director and APTA Grand Prix tour director Shannon Vinson, John Noble, and all of their volunteers for running this tournament, always a favorite with the players and fans.
Main Draw: Cynthia Dardis/Amy Shay def. Liz Cruz/Gabriela Niculescu, 6-3, 6-3
Quarterfinal Reprieve: Suzanne Lemery/Kelly Rohrbach def. Jane McNitt/Chelsea Nusslock, 6-4, 6-2
Round of 16 Reprieve: Laura Berendt/Alison Morgan def. Freddy Goldenberg/Ewa Radzikowska, 6-3, 6-4
Round of 32 Consolation: Denise Murphy/Lynne Schneebeck def. Abby Hand/Amy Heil, 6-4, 6-3
Round of 32 Last Chance: Kim Fiedler/Sally McPherrin def. Anneliese Adkinson/Lauren Bellinger, 6-0, 6-1
Consolation: Victoria Eichleay/Shawna Zsinko def. Laura Davis/Heather McWilliams, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
Last Chance: Krissy Clutterbuck/Lindsey Rozek def. Olivia Capannari/Allison Thornton, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5