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Johan Du Randt and Jeff Morneau Win Western New England PCQ/NRT
January 12, 2015
The Western New England PCQ/NRT was played on January 10th in clear and cold weather conditions. The field of 24 teams was strong and featured the two top ranked players, six of the top 31 teams, and most of players from the defending champion Region II President’s Cup team. Johan du Randt and Mark Parsons took a much needed break from each other and teamed up with different partners—du Randt with tournament co-director Jeff Morneau and Parsons with his former partner, Brian O’Connor. Parsons stated before the event, “It’s been a while since I have had the chance to hit any overheads in a tournament so I’m really looking forward to this weekend.” The early rounds went as expected with a few three-set matches.
Winners Jeff Morneau and Johan du Randt
The quarterfinals in the lower half of the draw featured Parsons and O’Connor versus Scott Kahler and Mike Stulac. There was a clear plan by Kahler/Stulac to test “the mental giant” O’Connor—and they did. Unfortunately for them, O’Connor was up to the challenge and was able to carry Parsons through to the semifinals. O’Connor stated after the match, “We have kissed and made up but I still don’t know why Parsons dumped me a few years ago. I’m still hoping we can get back together.”
The quarterfinal match between Michael Montalbano and David Gaetz versus du Randt/Morneau was fast paced and featured outstanding shot making by all players. Du Randt/Morneau pulled through after two tough sets, which set up a semifinal match featuring du Randt and Parsons on opposite sides of the court for the first time in years. The semifinal match was dominated by the action packed play of du Randt with Morneau doing exactly what du Randt told him to do–“just serve the ball in the box, hit the return over the net, and stay in your alley or out of bounds.” Morneau listened, and it led to solid victory.
Parsons quipped after the match, “Don’t let the score fool anyone. I let Johan win to keep his confidence up for Nationals. It’s all part of my long-term plan. I don’t want to piss him off. As far as getting back together with O’Connor—it’s OVER! I think he needs to go to counseling.”
The quarterfinals in the upper half of the draw put Martin Bostrom and Sebastian Bredberg versus Javier Ferrin-Kranewitter/Andrea Bonfigli and featured solid play by all. Bredberg was heard crediting the victory to steadier play on the part of Bostrom. The quarterfinal match between Mark Innes and Mik Irdoja versus Anton Mavrin and Patricio Misitrano was expected to be a battle and the fans were not disappointed. A solid win for the 15th ranked team of Mavrin/Misitrano put them in the semifinals against Bostrom/Bredberg, the 10th ranked team.
While not making excuses, the fans were wondering if the lack of practice time due to travel to and from Estonia over the holiday season had any impact on Irdoja's play. To his credit, he rejected such speculation and stated, “I don’t think that travel had anything to do with it, they were just the better team today.” The semifinal featured a mix of timely power and finesse from all players. This was a true grinding battle to the end with Misitrano/Mavrin pulling it out in two close sets. Bostrom/Bredberg decided to take out their loss on other tournament players in a high-stakes game of poker in the paddle hut. Bostrom stated, “I may have lost in the semifinals and don’t get a prize but I earned my entry fee back and still got a favor, lunch, and beer.”
The finals between du Randt/Morneau and Mavrin/Misitrano was played before 50-75 fans from the area, who were enticed to come watch with free beer and food, and they braved the cold weather to support the players and the event. They got to see an excellent and dramatic final. Du Randt/Morneau took the first set 6-4 in workman-like fashion. In the second set, Mavrin/Misitrano picked up their level of play, with Misitrano flying all over the court and volleying like a Nationals champion. They clearly dominated play and won the second set, 6-2, which set up a third set for the title. The third set started out like the second set ended, with outstanding all-around play by Mavrin/Misitrano, especially at the net and du Randt and Morneau making an unprecedented number of forced and unforced errors.
L to R - Finalists Patricio Misitrano and Anton Mavrin, Winners Jeff Morneau and Johan du Randt
Mavrin/Misitrano jumped out to a lead and kept that lead all the way up to match point. Serving for the match at 5-3, they had more than one match point but were not able to put it away. Du Randt/Morneau held on and were eventually able to pull out a 7-5 third set victory. In the end, Morneau credited the victory to du Randt’s decision making. Morneau stated, “I think choosing to play with the tournament director was one of the best ideas du Randt has had 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.
2015 Western New Englands Draw
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