St. Louis Invitational

BOB CURTIS
FEBRUAY 10, 2008
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Full Draw

St Louis Invitational 2008The 2008 St. Louis tournament saw a departure from the norm as three-headed monsters appeared, last became first and winds came from the east. An early indicator of the oddities that would take place occurred when Frank Childress announced on the eve of the tournament that  he was being called into an 8 a.m. Saturday morning meeting. Cagey veteran Gene Fluri filled-in for two matches to partner with Chris Cochrane (New York). The Fluri/Cochrane duo had solid wins over the father-son combo of Dick Baldwin/Tayt Baldwin (Paris) and a strong St. Louis team of Rick Randall/Jim O’Dowd. Childress re-appeared in the quarters to put up a strong fight against the Chicago team of Mike Insko/Dan Murphy before bowing out to the tune of 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. The Fluri/Childress/Cochrane team rebounded to capture the quarter’s reprieve division with wins over Frank Sant/Mike Carr and Kevin Connor/Jeff Crowe.

Next, Mike Judy was knocked out by the flu before stepping foot onto the court. Jimmy Johnson rode to the rescue to partner with John Iskra. After a sluggish start, Johnson/Iskra rebounded to win consecutive matches over Dan Guirl/Jeff Drew and Richard Baldwin/Townsend Baldwin (New York), respectively, before losing a division final (7-6, 7-5) to Mark Saksa/Hayden Jaques (Kansas City). 

Whispers started to reverberate throughout the St. Louis paddle huts as news spread that Rob Randall/Bob Curtis, five-time champions, lost in the second round to Insko/Murphy, 7-5, 6-2. Up 5-2 in the first, Randall/Curtis may have been momentarily distracted by the crowd. Although unable to rebound from the opening set turnaround, Curtis had the confidence to pick his team in the Calcutta. He used his business background to broker a deal to sell off 80% of the team. In the end, all investors were handsomely rewarded. 

Part of the excitement of running a tournament is watching new teams emerge onto the scene. Chace Brundige/Andy Metzler (Kansas City) entered the tournament by modestly saying they had only been playing paddle for three years. Well, they certainly got their monies worth as they participated in at least three, three-set matches. After losing to Dave Welch/.Dan Kepner (Springfield, IL) in three, they won back-to-back three set matches over Don Tracy/Harmon Deal (Springfield, IL) and Scott Seyfried/Steve Heitz, respectively, to capture the consolation bracket. 

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, winds blew from the east as Matt Lemery/Pete Rose (Chicago) returned from their home state of Illinois. The unique training regimen had little effect on their play as they dispatched the 2004 champions, Rick Meyer/Graham Bundy by the score of 7-5, 6-2. Dan Murphy was not so fortunate as his choice to room with Mike Judy on Friday night and to participate in the Lemery/Rose training program KO’d him for the semi-finals. In stepped three-time champion Earle Weaver. The Insko/Weaver pairing showed promise. However, they could not outpoint the new combination of Bill Stude/Tom Fluri who prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. In the championship match, the stealth play of Lemery/Rose came through with a convincing 6-2, 6-3 win over Stude/Fluri. Lemery/Rose were the last team to enter the tournament, but they captured first place. Several Chicagoans were heard saying, “No wonder Lemery poaches so well, no one can see him.”

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