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Florentina Hanisch and Annica van Starrenburg Triumph at Midwesterns
January 11-12, 2019
After the long holiday break, both players and fans looked forward to the first Grand Prix tournament of 2019. Would one of the teams who won the first two Grand Prix tournaments of the season, Florentina Hanisch/Annica van Starrenburg (Philadelphia) and Laura Berendt/Roxy Enica (Chicago) begin the year with another big title? Would last year’s Childress Cup Champions, Cynthia Dardis/Amy Shay, take their first Grand Prix tournament of the season? Or could another team deny the favorites and win a coveted Grand Prix crown?
Only one seeded team, Amy Heil and Alice Tunaru (7), failed to reach the quarterfinals. They lost to Chris Maglocci and Denise Murphy, 7-5, 6-2, in the Round of 16. The seedings continued to hold through the quarterfinals, as all four of the top seeded teams gained their berths in the semifinals without losing a set.
The semifinalists were no strangers to each other. Dardis/Shay (2) and Berendt/Enica (3) faced each other twice earlier this season, with Berendt/Enica prevailing in the quarterfinals in Philly and the finals of Chicago Charities, both in straight sets. It is never safe to assume that another team has Dardis/Shay’s number, however, as the second seeds always learn from their losses and were able to diffuse the power game of Berendt/Enica and take the match in straight sets.
After several lopsided victories in the semifinals of Patterson and Philly, Hanisch/van Starrenburg were the clear favorites to beat Jessica Guyaux and Myrthe Molenveld (4) for a spot in the finals. But Guyaux/Molenveld seemed better prepared to counter Hanisch/van Starrenburg’s one-up-one back formation, and the two teams traded the lead back and forth for two sets. The top seeds cruised through the third set and looked like they were going to close out an easy third set victory when they went up 5-1, but Guyaux/Molenveld clawed their way back into the set. The top seeds managed to eke out the win, but it wasn’t easy, as the 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 score indicates.
Weather conditions were a factor in the finals on Saturday morning. Wet snow fell, leaving the court wet and steamy as the heaters worked to counter the precipitation. Dardis/Shay were comfortable with the inclement conditions, lobbing and volleying flawlessly, while Hanisch/van Starrenburg had trouble finding the court with their drives. After winning the first set, 6-2, Dardis/Shay lost two long, close games, to go from 2-1 to 2-3. That was the turning point, enabling Hanisch/van Starrenburg to get into the match and keep the second set close. Dardis/Shay went up 6-5, but Hanisch/van Starrenburg forced a tiebreaker which they won comfortably. As the skies cleared and the court dried for the third set, Hanisch/van Starrenburg hit their stride. Van Starrenburg had much more success driving on the dry court, and Hanisch was able to blitz multiple times successfully. Dardis/Shay mounted a comeback of their own down 5-1 in the third, but they fell just short, and Hanisch/van Starrenburg posted a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 win, and now own two Grand Prix titles this season.
Thank you to tournament director Heather Prop who took fifth place with partner Wendy Shpiz while running a tournament beloved by players and fans alike. Thank you also to the Kenwood Club and the Camargo Club for providing courts and facilities and the Hyde Park Golf and Country Club for hosting the tournament in their beautiful new hut.
Main Draw: Florentina Hanisch/Annica van Starrenburg def. Cynthia Dardis/Amy Shay, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3
Quarterfinal Reprieve: Heather Prop/Wendy Shpiz def. Alison Morgan/Marina Ohlmuller, 6-3, 6-2
Reprieve: Shaheen Bhanji/Spencer Caravaggio def. Amy Heil/Alice Tunaru, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6
Consolation: Tracy Glassmeyer/Lisa Goldberg def. Anneliese Adkinson/Wendy Mikola, 6-0, 6-0
Consolation Reprieve: Gwen Pontikes/Sandy Wang def. Rita Kladstrup/Candice Leonard, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Last Chance: Liza Herald/Monica Lindberg def. Melanie Vollmer/Kerri Wachtel, 6-2, 7-6