New England Menís 55ís Team Grinds Out FOURPEAT with† Atlantic Coast Cup Victory
by Paul Shaw, Captain
On July 22, 2012, at Old Westbury Country Club on Long Island,† the New England Menís 55ís team defeated a powerhouse team from New York, 4-3 despite the injury of three New England singles players to win the Atlantic Coast Cup for the fourth consecutive year.† This victory even topped last yearís stirring come from behind victory over MALTA in Alexandria, Virginia for the threepeat.
Knowing that no team had beaten the East in New York, Captain Shaw began his recruitment early and diligently. He added three players new to the 55ís - former† #1 singles players David Robbins Tien and Tim Riley, and Harlan Stone, Jon Batesí longtime #1 doubles partner. All the remaining players had played on the victorious ACC teams of the past three years including:
Howie Ames, Jon Bates, Wade Frame, Kimm Fisher, Phil Kadesh, Richard Makepeace, Paul Shaw, and Al Turner.
The first daysí matches began on Saturday, July 21, at Shelter Rock Tennis club in Manhasset, NY. With an address of† Long Island Expressway (the Worldís Largest Parking Lot)† most players could not locate the club with GPS, and several players were at risk of defaulting.† Tim Riley took an hour and 15 minutes to reach the club from the hotel which was ten minutes away!!
The first match was against the Middle States, and New England won decisively, 7-0 without the loss of a set. The second match followed shortly and New England again won 7-0 without losing a set!! However, on the other side of the draw the powerhouse from New York was winning handily. The singles lineup from Eastern was formidable:
#1 Singles- John James, former top 40 tour player with 2 wins over Bjorn Borg.
#2 Singles- Bob Bull, Former National Champion
#3 Singles- Paul Moss, Current top 5 National player
#4 Singles- Jim Malhame, Current top national player
Surprisingly, Bob Litwin, former #1 National Champion and World #1 was playing doubles rather than singles.
Same as last year,† the New England strategy was to sweep the 3 doubles matches and to win one out of the four singles matches.
The final match began in ideal weather, sunny, in the low 80ís with low humidity. The forecast was for the temperature to rise to the mid-to high 80ís.
Richard Makepeace and Kimm Fisher at #2 doubles started out with a quick win for New England over Bob Tanis and Kevin Kane, 6-1, 6-1. Attention shifted to a high level battle between Wade Frame and John James at #1 singles. Wade played an aggressive and attacking game against James, with many forehand winners and big service winners. Jamesí pinpoint accuracy and strong defense, resulted in a 6-3,† 6-3 win over Frame.
Meanwhile Jon Bates and Harlan Stone were having a battle at #1 doubles against Bob Litwin and Steve Berliner. With tremendous shot-making, and remarkable consistency, Bates and Stone won 6-4, 6-3. New England took a 2-1 lead.
At #3 singles, Phil Kadesh won the first set over a tenacious Paul Moss, 6-4. At 0-1, in the second set Phil pulled a hip flexor muscle. After learning that New England had won their first sets in #3 doubles and #2 and #4 singles, Kadesh decided to retire, thinking that New England was in a strong position to win.
Meanwhile, Tim Riley was playing the match† of his life against Bob Bull. Both players were endlessly rallying from far behind the baseline. Rallies lasted upwards of 50 to 60 shots with an average of 20 shots per rally.† Riley was leading 6-2, 4-0 when Kadesh retired. He asked for extra nourishment and gator aide while feeling cramps in his leg. Captain Shaw came onto the court and encouraged him to close out the match to secure the win, before getting more injured. Suddenly and unfortunately, at 5-0, 30-15, Riley staggered on the court with cramps in both hamstrings. He was carried off the court and there was no pickle juice on hand to relieve the cramps, and Riley reluctantly had to retire before closing out what would have been a career victory. The tournament Director said firmly,ďhe canít go on, its not worth it to kill ourselves out hereĒ!
Dramatically, the tide had shifted against New England who was now behind 3-2 in matches after the two singles injuries. Thankfully, Al Turner and Howie Ames closed out a victory against the #3 New York doubles team of Captain Doug Barrow and Rich Bates, 7-6, 6-1.
With the score tied in matches at 3-3, all attention shifted to #4 singles with David Tien in a dogfight with New Yorkís Jim Malhame. Tien won the first set 6-4, but was facing a set point with Malhame serving at 6-5. Fortunately he saved the set point and forced a tie-breaker. With players from both sides watching and cheering on the adjacent court, Tien ran down Malhameís well-placed volleys and hit several key passing shots. Malhame noticed that Tienís calf was wrapped and he was laboring to cover the court and appeared to be cramping. Being a medical doctor, Tien knew his cramps were progressing and he was in serious trouble if the match went to three sets. In the nick of time, he closed out the tie-breaker 7-5 and secured the victory for New England., 6-4, 7-6 (5).†
With the Fourpeat† in hand after defeating the mighty East, New England celebrated with a round of beers and† a belatedly discovered jar of pickle juice. The three injured players, Kadesh, Riley and Tien were transported up to the clubhouse in golf carts as the hill was steep leading to the locker room. They were given the royal treatment by the gracious and concerned hosts from Old Westbury Country Club.
Captain Shaw, a staunch believer and experienced† in the healing powers of pickle juice could not believe that he did not have the elixir on hand during the matches but was thrilled and relieved to secure the victory in the nick of time.†† Tim Riley remarked ď Iíll never be without pickle juice again as he bemoaned his near career win over the Bull while also reveling in the sweet, team victory!!