Results of National Championships and coverage of Men’s and Women’s Nationals in Chicago
If the 2006 Nationals had a decidedly Chicago flavor, it wasn’t lust because of the location. Men’s champions Brian Uihlein and Dave Keevins and Women’s champion Mary Doten are all long standing area residents and Susie Keane, though living in the Detroit area, learned her paddle skills in Chicago.
The path to the finals for both winning teams was dramatic, though in very different ways. Keevins and Uihlein had to survive four consecutive three-setters from the round of 16 on, and came from behind in every match to win. Maybe their gutsiest win came in a three-set quarter-final against Anthony Cosimano and Steve Haller when, down 5-6 and triple match point and Uihlein cramping badly, they survived in a tie-breaker. The semis proved no easier against defending National Champions Bill Anderson and Mike Stulac. Stulac showed his toughness by overcoming a sprained ankle incurred in the first set while diving for a particularly nasty Uihlein spin serve. The teams traded the lead throughout the match with last year’s champs staying in it by virtue of their spectacular volleying and the new champs applying relentless pressure with their big forehands. At the conclusion of the 2 1/2 hour match, Keevins/Uihlein came up with just enough big points to win 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the final.
The final matched Keevins and Uihlein against Blake Cordish and David Caldwell who were on an amazing roll having given up a total of only 6 games in their three previous matches. The final was played in a steady snowfall that made the conditions challenging at best. The Chicago “ground crew” mopped the court with towels before the match and during changeovers to give the players decent footing. Everyone from tournament chair Alan Graham to former national champions Bill Fiedler and Rich Maier pitched in to make the
court playable. The level of talent on the court overcame the conditions and Caldwell/Cordish took the first set in a tiebreaker. They went up a break in the second set and were serving at 4-2 when the Chicago team made their move. In nailbiting fashion, with every game tight, Keevins/Uihlein won the second set in a tiebreaker.
In the final set, the steam from the heaters was so thick that most of the 300+ spectators could only guess at what was going on during most points. But the players maintained a ridiculously high level of movement and shot making and waged a seesaw battle that ended with Keevins and Uihlein breaking serve to win the title 6-4 in the third to become only the second all-Chicago team to win the Championship in the 76-year history of the event.
The drama on the Women’s side was not contained solely on the court. The semis were set with two New York/New Jersey teams on one side of the draw and two Chicago/Detroit teams on the other. Defending champions Kerri Delmonico and Aila Main squared off against Bobo Delaney and Tonia Mangan in a match-up of the #1 and #4 seeds. Delaney/Mangan played a nearly flawless first set and won it 6-4 relying on their well-refined teamwork attack. But Delmonico/Main were not ready to give up their title and battled back to take the second set 6-4. With both teams fighting for every point, the top seeds prevailed in a tiebreaker to advance to the finals.
Waiting for Delmonico and Main were Mary Doten and Susie Keane, who had their two-title winning streak ended at last years Nationals by Aila and Kerri. If Doten and Keane looked surprisingly fresh, it was because they received a pass to the final when the unseeded team of Kristen Klauke and Terry Miller defaulted just before the scheduled semi. Klauke had come down with a bad flu bug after defeating the third-seeded team of Dardis and Shea in the quarter-finals and was unable to play thus setting a match-up of the winners of the last three National Championships.
Doten and Keane showed no ill effects from their layoff and took the first set 6-4. With their rhythm established and confidence growing, they dictated played and gave Delmonico
and Main no openings to counterattack. They gave the Chicago crowd what they wanted and closed out the match by winning the final set of the Women’s tournament 6-2.
Congratulations to all the participants of this years Nationals. It seemed like the over 420 players were unanimous in their praise of the exceptional job done by the tournament staff. The food and service at Glen View Club were great, the beer and wine never ran out, and the Saturday night party was one of the best in years. Special acknowledgment goes to behind-the-scenes magicians Bill O’Brien and ARIA. Executive Director Marjorie Hodson who ran tournament central and coordinated innovations like hourly result updates on paddlepro.com and the distribution of current draw sheets at the lunch locations and throughout the tournament.
Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 5, April, 2006