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Jay Schwab and Michael Slutzky Repeat as Colorado State Champs
February 9, 2015
Arapahoe Tennis Club hosted the Men's Colorado State Open under a beautiful grey, overcast sky last weekend. Last year’s champs, Jay Schwab and Michael Slutzky, seeded first, came into the event expecting good things. Jay had played well during the Border War on the previous weekend and Mike showed no sign whatsoever of slowing down in his 30s. Most of the teams were familiar to each other. However, there were some wild cards in the bracket that our locals had to be wary of. Peter Dinneen's brother-in-law, Sam Sutphin, joined us from Indianapolis. Ken Fleck brought Chris Meese out of retirement, and then the team of Andy Ward and Mike Cochrane joined us from Connecticut. Cochrane and Ward wowed the crowd with shots not common in this part of the paddle world. Cochrane has a national championship (2007) and runner up (2005) under his belt and the word travelled fast that they were a team to watch.
Schwab and Slutzky got dialed in quickly with a straight set win over Blaise Taylor and Jim Bray to get to the semis. On the other end of the draw, second seeds Ian Hintz and Cary Hodges got past the brother combo of Nick and Will Morris. Third seeds Tom Houlihan and Curt Corrigan, anxious for some revenge from the Border War, also advanced to the semis by defeating their neighbors from Boulder, Pete Walters and Jim Bray 6-1. 6-1. The other quarter final involved the fourth-seeded team of Matt Kranich and Andrew Green and Cochrane and Ward, who jumped out in front to take the first set 6-4. As the match went on, the trash talking escalated between Cochrane and Kranich as did Green and Kranich's game who came back to win the second set 6-2. The third set was tight all the way to the end with Ward playing solid and Cochrane pulling many rabbits out of various hats, but in the end Kranich and Green kept the errors to a minimum to take the deciding set 7-5 and landed a spot in the semis against Schwab and Slutzky.
In the semis, Hintz and Hodges found themselves across the net for the third time this season from Houlihan and Corrigan, with each team having one victory. Hintz and Hodges served for the first set at 5-4, but couldn't close the door on the set. The tiebreaker went Houlihan and Corrigan's way. The second set was nip and tuck throughout and also was to be decided by a tiebreaker that went to the home team. The third set started with two long games both won by Houlihan and Corrigan. The tide turned and from then on it was all Houlihan and Corrigan, who went on to blank Hintz and Hodges, 6-0, in the third set. Meanwhile, Slutzky and Schwab were on course at a chance to repeat as champs by ousting Green and Kranich, 6-3, 6-3.
In the finals, Schwab and Slutzky had fresh legs and it showed with a quick first set going 6-2. Houlihan and Corrigan were not going to just roll over and fought back to keep the second set close. With some amazing pinball-like volley exchanges at the net and retrieving skills by the defending champs, Slutzky and Schwab were too solid down the stretch taking the second set 7-5 to repeat as State Champs. Well done!
In the Men's B bracket, populated by 16 teams, top-seeded Craig Emerson and Scott Ripley knew they had a tough road ahead. The road had to go through teams like Dave vonGunten and Dan Washburne (seeded 2nd), Brad Talbot and John Speer (seeded 3rd) and Kent Lemon and Eamonn MacNaughton (4th). The Tournament Director's seeding skills seemed sharper than his actual paddle skills as all four of the seeded teams advanced to the semis. In the bottom half of the draw, von Gunten and Washburne had their hands full with cagey veterans Talbot and Speer, who after losing the first set, rebounded to take the second set sending the match to a third set. VonGunten and Washburne, having not played much together recently prior to the tournament, adjusted well enough to take the third set,6-2, to make it to the finals. Meanwhile, the other semi was also a three setter with Emerson and Ripley taking the first set, 6-3, dropping the second set, 6-1, to Lemon and MacNaughton and then finishing them off, 6-3, in the third set. With enough KT tape on his leg for three teams, Ripley put his condition aside and helped Emerson through a straight set victory, 6-3, 6-3, over Washburne and vonGunten. Great tourney for Emerson and Ripley!
Thanks to all of the players who participated, the paddle committee for helping host another fun event, and all the paddle fans and supporters who came out to watch. The APTA wants to thank Cary Hodges for running another great tournament and for another great write-up.
Next up is the Arapahoe Invitational Feb. 19-22. Watch for registration info soon!Men’s Open