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The Future is Now at Cleveland
November 16, 2014
The Future is Now at Cleveland.
The new tagline for the city of Cleveland and Cleveland sports is “Cleveland: The Future is Now.” Cleveland is experiencing a renaissance as a city and a sports town. Cleveland Paddle is no exception. If you have not noticed, Cleveland Paddle is on fire. Participation and enthusiasm are on the rise and this was reflected in the 40th annual Cleveland Masters, which took place this past weekend. Over 250 players participated in events ranging from instructional clinics to the nationally rated Men’s Open tournament.
On Thursday night and Friday, the east side of Cleveland received over a foot of snow, but this did not stop the diehard players in the 90+ and 110+ men’s tourney. While conditions were less than ideal, eight teams participated in the 110+ and 21 teams competed for the 90+ title. The Cleveland Racquet Club and The Country Club hosted these events and the courts were in great shape considering the weather challenges. In the end, the Pittsburgh duo of Don Gavett and Ted Ford won the 110+ while local favorites, Robbie Edelstein and Fayez Bhanji took home the 90+ honors, marking the third year in a row that Robbie has won the Cleveland 90+. The Country Club served an excellent luncheon for the hearty paddle players.
Friday night, The GCPTA (Greater Cleveland Platform Tennis Association) held free instructional clinics taught by Denny English, Kelly Fischer, Doug Jones and Thaddeaus Reed on the newly renovated courts at the Wembley Club. 48 players attended the clinics. The weather was brutal, but it wasn’t anything that a keg, firepit and hot food couldn’t overcome. After the paddle events, the Wembley Taverne was raging for hours with over fifty paddle players from several cities. Saturday was the Men’s Open (NRT/PCQ) and Ladies Open (PCQ). Seven local clubs hosted the events.
Saturday and almost all of them were ready to go as if there had been no snow at all. The ladies had 36 teams competing in a deep draw. The men had a record 48 teams competing in what many called the deepest draw ever. One of the teams in this draw was the unseeded team of Jeronie Barnes and Brad Smith playing out of Chicago. Many people were not familiar with this team, but they noticed Jeronie wearing Cleveland attire including a shirt with “the future” written on it, along with a headband apparently in tribute to Lebron James.
There were many great battles in the ladies open. The first that comes to mind was early on as Clevelanders Bonnie Mathew and Joan Swain knocked off a very tough Columbus team (Heather Burke and Megan Post), 6-7, 7-5, 7-6. Jill Gilbert and Pam Lippy, out of Columbus had a great day. As an unseeded team, they were able to beat three seeded teams, and had an incredibly tough draw. They single-handedly knocked out Cleveland’s best two ladies teams who were seeded 2nd and 3rd, only to then have to play the number one seeded Jessica Guyaux and Kelly Fischer in the finals. Jessica and Kelly, as they often are, were almost flawless all day and never came close to losing a set. Jessica and Kelly won the 2014 Ladies Cleveland Masters for their fourth time. These tough competitors appear to be the past, present AND future of the Cleveland Masters.
On the men’s side, one is usually able to predict the winner within about two teams. This year however, with 28 excellent teams coming from out-of-town, it was up for grabs. Stealing the spotlight were Jeronie Barnes and Brad Smith who won the 2014 Cleveland Masters, their first NRT crown. While most of the crowd did not realize he is a native Clevelander, they were quickly enamored by Jeronie’s Cleveland attire, not to mention his incredible skills on the court. In a tournament usually dominated by Pittsburgh teams (they have been in the finals 10 of the last 12 years), unseeded Barnes/Smith did the unthinkable by knocking off FIVE high-quality Pittsburgh teams, including four of the tournament’s eight seeded teams. The 2015 Masters will be very exciting as Pittsburgh seeks to regain their title and Barnes/Smith along with some other new teams from Chicago and the east coast come to prove that the “Future is Now” at the Cleveland Masters.
The courtside Saturday night party at The Cleveland Racquet Club went great with over 100 people in attendance. Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Rochester, Columbus, Baltimore, Winston-Salem, New Jersey and Connecticut were all represented at this party. Due to the weather, everyone was packed into the paddle hut, adding to the intimacy of the event, which lasted several hours after paddle ended. There was much consideration and debate that went into deciding who won the party, but in the end it was decided that Rochester, captained by Sky Kalkman, won this coveted award.
We thank everyone who made the 2014 Cleveland Masters a great event, especially our sponsors, and look forward to seeing everyone next year! To learn more about all the exciting Cleveland Paddle initiatives please visit clevelandpaddle.com and be sure to watch the video on the homepage.
Below is a link to the results of the women's and men's draws of the 2014 tournament.