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Arraya/Morneau take Longmeadow Viking PCQ/NRT
December 11, 2017
The Longmeadow NRT/PCQ was played on December 10th in clear and cold weather conditions at the Field Club of Longmeadow, the Longmeadow Country Club, Suffield Country Club and Great Horse Country Club in Hampden. The field of twenty eight teams was strong and, at the time of sign-ups, featured eleven of the top fourteen ranked players in the country and most of the players from the defending champion Region II President’s Cup team.
The top eight teams all advanced to the quarterfinals and then the top four reached the semifinals. The quarterfinal match between the top seeded John Hughes/Marc Powers and Johan du Randt/Stephen Mitchell was fast paced as du Randt tried to carry his South African friend Mitchell, a newcomer to paddle, to an upset victory. Ultimately, Hughes and Powers were able to find a way to keep enough balls away from du Randt to secure the victory. The match between Juan Arraya/Jeff Morneau and Andrea Bonfigli/Javier Ferrin-Kranewitter was a rematch from the Sound Shore Invitational a few weeks ago. Bonfigli/Ferrin-Kranewitter adopted a style of “stay back and lob” in the second set which briefly changed momentum, but Arraya’s overheads proved too much for Bonfigli/Ferrin-Kranewitter to handle. Ferrin-Kranewitter stated, “I’ve now played with and against Juan twice this year and I’m not sure which I prefer – I win more when I play with him but at least I get to hit some overheads when I play against him.” The second seeds, Max LePivert and George Wilkinson, took out Genius Chidzikwe and Todd Hiscox, 6-2, 6-0. The most anticipated quarterfinal match featured Martin Bostrom and Sebastian Bredberg against Alex Bancilla and Marco Grangeiro. The match was excellent as expected, with the third seeds from Sweden winning the second and third sets of a two and a half hour three setter.
The semifinal match between Hughes/Powers and Arraya/Morneau was also a repeat of a match from Sound Shore and a crowd (100+) favorite because it featured two players (Hughes and Morneau) from the host facility. Hughes/Powers were in clear control of the match, winning the first set 6-2, up 4-1 in the second set, and holding game points to go to up 5-1. Arraya/Morneau were eventually able to win that long game which turned the momentum in the set and the match, allowing them to squeak out a three-set win. The match between Bostrom/Bredberg and LePivert/Wilkinson was an epic three-setter won by the second seeds. Bostrom/Bredberg quipped, “we really wanted this one for our homeland in Sweden and we hope we didn’t disappoint the entire country with the loss today but we still got a favor, lunch, and beer.” Le Pivert said, “France and England vs. Sweden – the result was inevitable.”
The finals between Arraya/Morneau and Le Pivert/Wilkinson was played at 8:00 p.m. in front of 50-75 fans from who braved the cold weather to support the players and the event. They were treated to an excellent final. Arraya/Morneau took the first set 6-1 in workmanlike fashion. In the second set, LePivert/Wilkinson picked up their level of play and picked on Morneau as he began to struggle with consistency and fitness after a long day of paddle. LePivert and Wilkinson were clearly dominating play in the second set with consistent and accurate shots. Morneau’s shots eventually started going in and Arraya’s spinning overheads and drop volleys (except for the one he missed on match point) were well-placed and well-timed. Arraya/Morneau were eventually able to bring the set to a tiebreaker and pull out a 7-6 second set victory. In the end, Morneau credited the victory to Arraya’s choice of partner. Morneau stated, “I think choosing to play with the tournament co-director was one of the best decisions Arraya has made in years.”
All in all, it was a great event with great players, matches, food, prizes, and fans – exactly what paddle tournaments are all about.