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Juan Arraya and Mark Fischl Natty at Short Hills 95s
February 11, 2016
Short Hills, NJ
The 95s at Short Hills was possibly the strongest age-limited tournament ever. The draw was littered with national champions as well as current top players. Mike Gillespie, Ron Erskine, Scott Estes Sr., Scott Estes Jr., Juan Arraya, and Steve DeRose are all National Champions of one sort or another. DeRose and his partner, Jamie Ferriero, were the defending champions. Current top-five player Jon Lubow played with Dan Englander, as the second seed, with Gillespie/Erskine, Arraya/Fischl, and others lurking.
In the quarters Lubow/Englander faced the determined tandem of Broderick/Bondurant. Bondurant, straying from his normal forehand side, held his own and Broderick's stellar volleying was key in the straight set victory. In the other quarters, Arraya/Fischl barely escaped upset minded Tim Mangan and Gary Newman, 6-4 in the third. Gillespie/Erskine defeated the Scott Estes’ team and DeRose/Ferriero beat John Milbank and Rob Schenone. DeRose was all over the court with his brilliant shot making. Spectators gasped on one occasion when after playing a ball on the deuce side he ran all the way over to the ad side wire and hit a one-handed backhand around the net post for a winner.
In the first semi, Bondurant/Broderick continued their steady play winning the first set easily over Arraya/Fischl. Once again. Bondurant's backhand dominated the play. Combining that with his blitzing, Arraya and Fischl looked confused. It looked like another easy victory for the local favorites when all of a sudden things changed. Exhaustion set in and after a close second set, the younger Arraya started to control the action. Fischl watched closely as his partner led the way to victory.
In the other semi, DeRose continued his magical efforts, hitting one amazing shot after another. Gillespie/Erskine won the second set, but weren't able to maintain the level and, ultimately, DeRose was too much for them. Ferriero’s steady play was the perfect balance for DeRose. It won't be at all surprising to see this team in a main draw match soon.
The finals showcased two of the most talented players in the game—Arraya versus DeRose. Due to the overnight snow storm, play had been delayed three hours, so Tournament Director Guido Graff decided that in the event of a third set, a super breaker would decide things. he first set was fast and furious with Arraya and DeRose exchanging brilliant play. An amazing Arraya backhand volley bounced back over the net after landing in Ferriero's service box to close out the set. Set number two was filled with great play. This time DeRose came out on top. In the super breaker, the serve dominated play. Neither team could break through. In the end, a let cord ace from Fischl was the difference and the champions were crowned.
Special thanks to Guido Graff and the entire team at Short Hills for all their efforts.