4.5-Open Singles Champions-Northbrook
Northbrook’s 4.5-Open Singles team somehow pulled out a win against North Shore. Three of the matches went to a 3rd set tie-breaker. On court 4, Sue Teper (NRC) releasing some of the stress of moving to a new home, sliced and diced her way to a straight set victory over Youngran Chung (NSRC). On court 3, Denise Mullett (NSRC) battled it out with Liesel Jankelowitz. Liesel was down in the 1st set 2-5 before coming back to win the 1st set 7-5, only to let the 2nd set slip away 6-3. The 3rd set tie-breaker went to Denise 10-4. Terri Gordon (NRC) and Lisa Musgrave (NSRC) had never played each other in singles before. Lisa won the 1st set 6-4 and was cruising in the 2nd set 5-2 when something woke up in Terri. She turned the set around and won the set 7-5. It was time for a match tie-breaker reset. Lisa nearly had it won at 9-7 but Terri turned it around again to win 11-9 in the match tie-breaker. WOW! On court 1, Becky Moffatt (NSRC) was in control of the 1st set against Nives Horacek (NRC). Then the tide turned and it was Nives who was in control of the 2nd set and the match tie-breaker. Northbrook won 3-1. This is a three-peat for Northbrook who won in 2015 and 2016.
4.0-4.5 Singles Champions – Midtown-Palatine 1
For the last couple of years, one of Midtown-Palatine’s teams has met RC Lake Bluff in the finals of the 4.0-4.5 Singles League. Krisztina Anderko mixes up her teams from year to year and this year added Alpna Yousfi to the roster. RC Lake Bluff has some strong singles players and added Michelle Ihlanfeldt to their roster. Unfortunately I was not able to make it to the match to watch the players engage with one another on the court but I know they were running and working their strengths while defending their weaknesses. Alpna Yousfi played and won against Michelle Ihlandfeldt on court 1. Leslie Leonardi (RCLB) held it together against Jennifer Lenahan (MTP 1). Renee Buxton (MTP 1) had a win over Lynn Bruch (RCLB) and between Bethanne McFadden (RCLB) and Keeley Hart (MTP 1), Bethanne won but in a 3rd set match tie-breaker which gave MTP 1 the extra set they needed to become the champions of the NCW4.0-4.5 league.
3.0 Champions – Midtown-Chicago
TNT must be working for Midtown-Chicago as their team narrowly won the finals against Lakeshore. But before playing their matches, there was a question of whether one of their players was an eligible player. Players are required to have played 3 times for their team and the name showing on court 2 hadn’t played a match. It was all straightened out before they went on court as the name on court 2 was input incorrectly. The wrong Janet was showing up on the lineup which was corrected to show Janet Hanks. Crisis averted! The Lakeshore ladies may have had some hope in the back of their minds that without lifting a racquet they won. But Midtown-Chicago had come to play and Lakeshore wanted to play as well. Midtown-Chicago took the top 2 courts in 2 sets. Lakeshore took the bottom 2 courts but on court 3, after winning the 1st set in a tie-breaker, they lost their momentum and let Midtown-Chicago back in the match losing the 2nd set 6-0 before taking back control in the 3rd set and winning 6-2. Unfortunately for Lakeshore, Midtown-Chicago gained an extra set to break the match tie. Midtown-Chicago won 5-4 in sets.
Midtown-Chicago for the finals of the NC Women’s 4.0 Wednesday league against Glenbrook came away with a 4-2 win. It was hard to tell who was winning and who was losing as each player exuded a confidence and a seriousness in their play. After watching some of the Women’s 3.5 matches and then coming over to watch the 4.0 women play, I was struck by the similarity in play but there was a bit more movement, especially poaching movement at the net. The players found a few more openings to put the ball away. They also took a few more chances which sometimes gave them opportunities to win the point or to lose the point depending on the moment. While Midtown-Chicago won the top 4 courts, there were some evenly matched teams playing against each other, especially on court 1 and court 3. So while Midtown-Chicago came away with the win, Glenbrook fought for every point and never stopped moving.
3.5 Champions – MTP
Women’s 3.5 Finalists – MTC
Players sometimes ask why the playoffs are different from the regular season. Our regular season is based on having two hours of playing time which is usually enough to get in 3 sets of tennis. But in the finals, we are working off the traditional form of playing matches – 2 out of 3 sets which may challenge you physically as well as mentally…especially mentally. Can you keep the momentum or turn back the tide? The 3rd set really gives you the opportunity to see what you are made of. Do you play it safe? Do you play more aggressively? What are you saying to yourself and your partner?
Midtown-Palatine in their finals match against Midtown-Chicago came out the winner 5-1 but three of the six matches ended in 3 sets. In watching a few moments of everyone’s matches, there were moments of patient and inpatient play, incredible gets, overzealous overheads, great pickups, tentative serves and good sportsmanship. There were a lot of well-played out points and consistent play with each team trying to figure out how they could best put themselves in the position of putting the ball away. But for me, it is those 3 set matches that are so fascinating. On court 2 the scores were 6-0, 5-7, 6-1. What happened? What changed? Did fatigue set in? On court 3 the scores were 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4). That’s a match where it appears everybody was fighting for every point and it could have gone either way. On court 6, the scores were 6-1, 5-7, 7-5. Slower start for Midtown-Chicago but they got their groove back and pushed it to 3 only to lose a close 3rd set. Win or lose, these final matches, stay with you because a lot is at stake not only for yourself but for your team. These matches are learning opportunities. Nice playing everyone!!
MTP1 – L-R: Karen Johnstone, Ki Kellen, Kelly Thut (Captain), Erica Donofrio, Cynthia DeStefano, Krisztina Anderko (Coach)
When you have two teams from the same club playing against each other, both teams feel a little weird about it. Krisztina Anderko had the difficult challenge of making up the lineup for both teams. As she watched the matches progress, she saw up close and personal, the progress her players have made over the course of the year. On court 1 Ki Kellen (MTP 1) played against Sally Fessenden (MTP2). Both players are very fit and ran every ball down. Ki was fearless in attacking any ball within her hitting zone but Sally gave as much as she got even though the scores don’t reflect that fact. Ki won on court 1. On court 2, Cynthia DeStefano (MTP 1) kept Elizabeth Jimenez (MTP 2) from playing her game and kept pushing her back to the baseline. Each player kept probing for opportunities and in this match Cynthia came out on the winning end. On court 3, Erica Donofrio (MTP 1) and Lori Bowling (MTP 2) had long exchanges and tense points. Who was up one moment changed in the next. Both players were fairly evenly matched. On this day, Erica prevailed. On court 4 Nicole Koviak (MTP 2) played against Kelly Thut. While the scores appear like Nicole had an easy win, she was the first to admit that a lot of the games went to deuce. Nicole gave MTP 2 their only win.
The Men’s Open league officially went down to 4 courts this year and allowed for the unlimited use of 4.5 players on courts 2-4 of the Open. Midtown-Bannockburn and RC Lake Bluff both added teams to this league that had primarily consisted of teams from College Park, River Trails, Midtown-Chicago and North Shore. This year Midtown-Chicago, who we normally see in the Finals, did not make it to the playoffs but RC Lake Bluff did. RC Lake Bluff played against College Park. Even though RCLB won every match, every single match was close. Courts 1 and 2 were 2 set matches that ended in a tie-breaker. Courts 3 and 4 were both 3 set matches with an unfortunate injury on court 4. We hope Lawson has a quick recovery. North Shore and River Trails started the morning with their Open teams playing against each other and a few players knew they needed to have enough left over to play another match with their 4.5 teams. North Shore was able to win their Open matches 3-1. North Shore and RC Lake Bluff will meet each other in the finals on May 13th at College Park Athletic Club at 4pm.
Of the 4 teams who made it to the playoffs, three of the teams also had their teams in the Open league playoffs. Libertyville was the only team who does not have an Open team. The question many were wondering was how many of the Open players would be playing in the 4.5 as well. College Park had the most players who played multiple times in both the 4.5 and the Open. River Trails and North Shore had far fewer dual level players. College Park played against Libertyville. LIB won on court 1 in 3 sets with a 3rd set tie-breaker to boot but with the exception of court 2, who lost in 3 sets, courts 3-6 were won fairly handily by CPAC-E. CPAC-E had a 5-1 win over LIB. River Trails 1 had a little more fire power and strength down the line against North Shore winning 6-0. River Trails’ Open team had just lost to NSRC in the Men’s Open playoffs, so a Men’s 4.5 win was sweet! Court 4 went to 3 sets but it was all River Trails. College Park East and River Trails 1 will meet on May 13th at College Park Athletic Club at 2pm.
In looking at the match scores of the Men’s 4.0 Doubles playoffs and seeing Midtown-Bannockburn and Northbrook winning their matches 5-1, one may think easy win. But looking at the actual match scores paints a different picture. Midtown-Bannockburn and College Park East 2’s court 1 could not have had a closer match. MTB won that match but the scores were 7-6, 6-7, 7-6(8). Admittedly, courts 2, 3 and 6 were well won by MTB. But CPAC 2 took court 5 and made MTB work for their win on court 4 by making it a 3 setter. The other playoff match was between Northbrook and River Trails 2. Four of the six matches went to three sets and one of those matches was won by RTTC 2. Two of the three setters went to a third set with 2nd set tie-breakers. Court 1 and court 4 were the only 2 set matches. Both were won by NRC. Midtown-Bannockburn and Northbrook will meet in the finals on May 13th at College Park Athletic Club at 12pm.
The Men’s 3.5 Doubles league has 7 teams of which 4 make it to the playoffs. River Trails ended the season in 1st place with a 71.53% win percentage. They played against the 4th place team who had a 50.69% win percentage – a team that wins some and loses some. The other two playoff teams, Libertyville and College Park East had a win percentage of 68.06% and 60.42% respectively. What can be tough when we get into May are players who become unavailable to play. RC Lake Bluff came up short and had to default a court to River Trails. River Trail swept the rest of the matches and won 4-0. Libertyville and College Park East were not going to give in to each other. On court 2, LIB won. On court 4 CPAC-E won. Then came the win on court 1 for CPAC-E. Libertyville needed to win the match in 2 sets not 3 but CPAC took the 2nd set and therefore winning in sets. River Trails and College Park East will meet in the finals on May 13th at College Park Athletic Club at 10am.