Edmonton's Royal Glenora club hosted Alberta's first tournament of the season and brought close to a hundred players out of hibernation this past weekend. As only 7 players registered for men's open, club pro Jeff Williams opted for a combined Open/A division with close to 2 dozen players. I drove up with WCP's James Jelenski and met 2 of my Calgary buddies including Eau Claire teammate Paul Adamiak and good friend and team Alberta member Ian Laycock. The draw was fierce, with brother's Andrew and Elliot Linklater, former pro basketballer Phil Scherer, firefighter Ray Patricio, veteran Tom Bedore and a number of keen players all looking to move up in the Alberta rankings. Here is a breakdown of our weekend. With the combined draw, it was a reasonable goal to get into the top 8 and play as well as I could against the top 7 seeded players.
James had to play new A player TJ Townsend in the first round and was surprised by the unorthodox swing and movement and struggled through the first 4 games until TJ ran outta steam in the 5th and James ran away with it. James' second match was against number 4 seed and club pro Jeff Williams who dominated James from the word go. Jeff won a trip to the semifinal against Top seeded Ian Laycock who made easy work of Jeff. James was knocked outta the tourney by Ryan Jadusingh in another close one.
Paul played a streaky game with Andrew Linklater, winning and losing numerous points in a fast pace and exciting match. Andrew's consistency won out in the end as Paul found the tin too many times with higher risk shots. Andrew took the match in 4. Paul moved to the consolation side where he met up against a determined Ian Buchanan (who was nice enough to let me stay with him this weekend). The match was in question the entire time and Paul struggled to keep the ball above the tin and Ian seemed to find the nick everytime he went short. Paul battled hard in the 5th to come back from 10-7 down to win it in extra points.
My first match was against Scott Anderson. With my tennis elbow, I didn't expect a lot and I was struggling with my swing. Scott ran down a lot of balls but was unable to put the ball away on me as I kept the pace slow, and in the end, my superior fitness was enough to force Scott into flurries of mistakes. I took the first 2 games easily 11-7, 11-5 and dropped the third quickly 11-3 but came back in the 4th winning 11-6. Consistency was key as I couldn't put any extra pace on the ball and Scott attempted to force the issue finding the tin and putting himself outta position too many times. The Saturday match against number 2 seed Elliot Linklater was a total walkover as I struggled to hit the ball and sharp pains in the forearm and elbow prevented any focus for me. I lost in 3 and went straight to the pharmacy for painkillers. I played again in the evening against number 3 seed, Phil Scherer conceding the first 2 games and getting down 7-10 in the third before the advil kicked in I was able to battle back and win the 3rd in extra points. I dominated the 4th game as Phil didn't know what hit him winning 11-5. With a semifinal playing on the court beside us, there was a bit of a delay for game 5 and thus another swing in momentum. Phil came out hitting a miss hit off my serve that somehow found the crosscourt nick. The second point I dominated with Phil looking like he was going to run outta steam and after reaching for a backhand the ball squeezed off the tip of his racket and the boast found yet another nick. Phil's next serve just cleared the top line and dropped in to find the backwall nick. Down 3-0 off 3 nicks, my heart sank into my stomach, but I tried to keep pace going point for point until the end, but couldn't break back that extra point. As the game extended the crowd from the semi-final all found their away over and cheers sounded from outside the court. I picked up the intensity of my footwork, taking the ball earlier and mixing up pace with slow floaty lobs that kept Phil off balance. Phil opted to play the roll of backboard as I worked him up front with fast boasts and forced him to reach high to volley with the slow matrix style lobs. Rallies were long and exciting and mistakes were few and far between as each player was looking to win points by out positioning the other. Phil won a few points with some hard hitting swings into the nick and Domi caught Phil going for a bit too much a couple times taking the stroke. But in the end, Phil found that hard drive cross court into the nick taking it 11-9 in the 5th. Phil went on to lose to Ray Patricio in the cons final.
Ian's first round was against his uncle Ian who did all he could keep the ball in play but eventually fell 3-0. Ian followed up with a second round against Andrew Linklater in what would be his toughest match of the tourney, winning in 4. Andrew played a solid tight and disciplined game, but Ian's pace was too much for Andrew forcing him to chase down ball after ball until Andrew couldn't chase anymore. Ian dispatched Jeff Williams in 3 in the semi-final and spent more time warming up demolishing Elliot in the final 3-0.
Overall a fun weekend. Losing to the number 2 and 3 seeds, but finishing tied for 7th, goal achieved!