2021 APTA National Championships Recap

April 14, 2021
Summit, NJ

2021 APTA Men's Nationals Final Results (doc)(pdf)

2021 APTA Women's Nationals Final Results (doc)(pdf)

This year was not normal, so the ultimate tournament of the year was different, too. The APTA National Championships schedule was pushed back a month and the location changed due to the ongoing pandemic. The men’s and women’s draws each fielded 32 teams, the smallest field in recent memory. All 128 players, however, appreciated the opportunity to compete in the Nationals against most of the top players. Saturday weather was stellar, warm with some sun to contend with. Sunday threatened to storm, causing the semifinals and finals schedule to move to a few hours later. The forecast was off, and the finals for both the women and men were wet and skiddy but fan-friendly three-set fights.

WOMEN

The top seeds were Florentina Hanisch/Ana Marija Zubori (1), Annica Cooper/Myrthe Molenveld (2), Kerri Delmonico/Lauren Gebbia (3), and Macie Elliott/Marcela Rodezno (4). Liz Cruz/Gabriela Niculescu were unseeded, since they both missed most of last season because of pregnancies, but they had a strong Grand Prix and NRT season and were clearly back to top form. (Speaking of pregnancies, both Rodezno and Hanisch are expecting in the next few months.)

Cruz/Niculescu pulled off a big win over Elliott/Rodezno in the round of 16, eliminating last year’s National Champions from the main draw. The rest of the results up to the semifinals favored the better ranked teams. The semifinals showcased two three-set battles, with Hanisch/Zubori over Delmonico/Gebbia, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 and Cruz/Niculescu over Cooper/Molenveld, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The women’s final didn’t start until 7:00PM, with wet conditions but a small, enthusiastic crowd there to cheer on the tough players. Cruz/Niculescu came out blasting their drives and won 6-3. The second set was back and forth leading to a tiebreaker. Hanisch/Zubori hung on tight, taking six points in a row after being down 3-1. The third set started out as another see-saw set, with Hanisch/Zubori up 4-2, but Cruz/Niculescu getting it back to 4-4. Next it was 5-5, with teams needing to win by two games. The points got a bit longer, but both teams brought out their big drives or cut overheads as needed, until Hanisch/Zubori closed it out at 7-5. Florentina Hanisch won her second Nationals title and Ana Marija Zubori won her first.

MEN

The four seeded teams, Johan du Randt/Stephen Mitchell (1), John Hughes/Marc Powers (2), Juan Arraya/Mark Parsons (3), and Sven Burus/Mikk Irdoja (4), all had big wins under their belts this season and the confidence in their play to claim the Nationals title. The unseeded three-time National Champions Drew Broderick and Jared Palmer (Broderick also won one with Chris Gambino) are always in contention. Tyler Fraser and Adam Morgan from Chicago had a successful season and showed up strong in New Jersey. Overall, the 32-team draw created an environment ripe for upsets.

The first upset came in the round of 16 when Max LePivert and Anton Protsenko used three sets to dispatch Broderick/Palmer. The next came in the quarterfinals, when the Chicago team of Tyler Fraser and Adam Morgan eliminated Arraya/Parsons, 7-6, 6-3. However, Du Randt/Mitchell stopped Fraser/Morgan in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2, and then waited to see who their opponents in the final would be. It took a bit of time, while Burus/Irdoja fought a tough three-setter in wet conditions against Hughes/Powers, winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

The warm wet conditions deteriorated into cool temperatures and steady rain for the final. The rallies were short and the tempo fast. The team who adjusted better to skidball had the best chance of winning. Du Randt/Mitchell won the first set at 6-4. In the second set, Burus/Irdoja kept the ball low and the errors piled up for du Randt/Mitchell although Mitchell’s behind-the-back volley at 4-5 should have been worth more points. Burus/Irdoja won the second set at 6-4. After an early surge from Burus/Irdoja, du Randt/Mitchell were able to eke out close games for a final 6-4 set. Congratulations to repeat National Champions Johan du Randt and Stephen Mitchell.

Many thanks to the Nationals committee—Patty Hogan, Greg Morgan, Drew Broderick—for organizing this important event in a very short amount of time, to the countless volunteers, to the umpires, to John Scott and the Enet crew, to the ProFlight crew, to all of the Live Streaming commentators led by Gerri Viant, to the clubs (and their staffs) who proffered courts, to host Canoe Brook Country Club, and to all the amazing platform tennis players who competed so well in challenging conditions—worldwide and weatherwise.

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L to R: Ana Marija Zubori and Florentina Hanisch

2021-mens-nationals-champs-500

L to R: Stephen Mitchell and Johan du Randt

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