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The Midwesterns Women’s Preview
January 9, 2017
On paper, Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay are the favorites to win The Midwesterns, the third Grand Prix of the 2016-2017 season. Dardis and Shay haven’t won a title since The Lake Invitational early this season, but they are consistent performers who go deep in every draw.
There will be plenty of other teams looking to make their mark in Cincinnati. Heather Prop, the women’s tournament director and paddle tennis professional at the Hyde Park Country Club, and her partner, Ania Kazakevich, are ranked fourth in the country. Prop has won The Midwesterns seven times, six with Lynne Schneebeck and one with Kazakevich. Prop/Kazakevich reached the semifinals of the 2016 APTA Nationals, the quarterfinals at Chicago Charities in November, and will be contenders next weekend.
The fifth ranked team, Liz Cruz and Roxy Enica, are having a strong year, reaching the finals at Chicago Charities where they beat Dardis/Shay in the semis, and again making the finals at the Long Island Invitational.
Liz Jaffe and Sue Tarzian and Mary Doten and Chelsea Nusslock are two veteran teams with loads of experience who could go far in the draw. All four of them are APTA National Championship finalists, with Hall of Famer Doten winning the Nationals six times.
There are several hard-hitting duos in the draw who no team wants to face. Laura Berendt and Alison Morgan almost pulled off a huge upset in the round of 16 at Chicago Charities, giving the top seeds and champions Martina Ondrejkova and Gabriela Niculescu a huge scare before falling 5-7, 7-6, 6-3. Agata Ciroch and Lisa Teer also came close to beating a top four seed in Chicago, losing a 6-4 in the third nail-biter to Hallie Bodman and Liz Hayward. Sandy Cvetkovic and Marina Ohlmuller combine power with craftiness to form a team that’s always tough to beat.
Two Ohio teams have had good runs at NRTs this year. Shaheen Bhanji and Lea Morris made an unseeded run to the finals of the Cleveland Masters in November, losing in the finals to the top seeds Kelly Fischer and Jessica Guyaux. Abby Hand and Amy Heil reached the finals of the West Penn Open the first week of December, also falling short against Fischer and Guyaux. Local favorite Lynn Schneebeck, an experienced veteran with multiple titles in Cincinnati under her belt, will combine with Chicago’s Denise Murphy to make another tough team.
Will the favorites come through the draw unscathed, or will one of the contenders break through? Catch all of the action from January 13-15 on Live Streaming online at the APTA Network.