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Conway
and Wimmer win Silver Racquet Doubles Tournament

By Rob Dinerman © 2003; all rights of reproduction reserved
.

Nov 11, 2003      



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Second seeds John
Conway and Noah Wimmer dethroned top-seeded defenders Beau Buford and
Jessie Sammis 11-15 15-12 15-8 15-10 earlier today to win the Silver Racquet
Invitational, held as always concomitantly with competitions in racquets
and court tennis singles and doubles at the Racquet & Tennis Club
in mid-town Manhattan.

Wimmer’s first-ever
open doubles tournament win, complemented by the exploits last week in
Baltimore of his two University Club of New York professional colleagues
Damien Mudge (who won the Maryland Open with Gary Waite) and Alex Pavulans
(who partnered Chris Deratnay to a huge first-round upset of third seeds
Blair Horler and Clive Leach), has made it already a memorable November
for the latter club.

It also prevented
Buford and Sammis from mounting a successful defense of the title they
had won last year. They have lived dangerously in this event, saving two
match-points against them in the quarter-finals last year before winning
the final over Sam Halpert and Ted Bruenner in five, and trailing 2-0,
7-3 in yesterday’s semi-final to Jeff Stanley and Mac McAndrew before
managing to turn that match around by lifting their game and avoiding
Stanley’s lethal racquet down the stretch.

But this time they
went to the well once too often, falling behind 12-3 in the third game
and 5-0, 9-3 and 11-4 in the fourth before staging rallies that were in
each case too little, too late. As indicated by the foregoing, Buford
and Sammis are a very streaky team, in both directions, and when one is
either on or off his game, the other seems inevitably to follow.

In the first game
it was Buford who was leading the way, knocking off backhand reverses
in front of Conway, twice hitting rails that clung too tight to the left
wall for Conway to scrape back and showing no ill effects in either his
stroking or his movement from the disc operation he had undergone last
spring after being injured in an automobile mishap. Sammis was also pressuring
Conway with strong cross court volleys and Wimmer was caught out of position
several times when he drifted too far over to try to cover the front left.

But after stepping
out smartly to 7-3 and 11-4, Sammis and Buford seemed to let
up a little with the game well in hand, a costly lapse, as they never
really
regained the efficiency and rhythm that had characterized their opening
foray. They did, however, have more than enough of a cushion to capture
that
first game, which they did on a Buford blast down the middle at 14-11
that
caught both Wimmer and Conway leaning too far to their respective walls
to get a
racquet on the ball. The second game drifted to 7-all, whereupon two
consecutive Sammis tins (one of a tinned volley cross court drop and the
other on an overhit into the gallery) and a Wimmer three-wall winner made
the score 11-8
and gave the Conway/Wimmer pairing the margin they needed to even the
score at a game apiece. Buford and Sammis had saved two game-balls against
them, but on the third at 14-12, Conway passed an unsighted Sammis on
a well-angled backhand cross court to seal the game.

As noted, the third
game got away from Buford, who perplexingly had stopped hitting his reverse-corner
even though he had been scoring well with it, and Sammis, whose normally
solid game went terribly sour, especially in a mid-game stretch in which
he ended three consecutive points by hitting balls out of
court. By the time this trilogy was over, so pretty much was their chances
of
winning the game, though an out-of-the-blue five-point rally brought them
back to 8-13 before a Sammis tin and a Wimmer three-wall that caught both
of his
opponents backpedaling gave him and Conway a two games to one lead.

Sammis and Buford
appeared determinedly aware of the urgency of their situation when the
fourth game began. But a knifed Wimmer forehand reverse-corner
on the first point seemed to unsettle them, and before they knew it they
were
behind 5-0. They crawled back to 3-6, but then fell victim to a 5-1 run
keyed
by two errors, a Wimmer drive past Sammis on the right wall, and two Conway
reverses, one of which fell for a winner and the on the other of which
Buford tinned a responding drop. Now down 11-4 and with their situation
rapidly
becoming hopeless, Sammis and Buford courageously summoned up one final
charge which began on a ground-hugging Sammis forehand reverse-corner,
continued when Buford hit a rail that Conway could only foul-tip and picked
up additional steam on a bad unforced Wimmer tin and a front-court winner
each from Sammis and Buford.

Suddenly they had
closed to 9-11, the possibility of yet another successful Silver Racquet
comeback (which would have been their fourth in these last two years)
now very real. The pace of the play, which had been somewhat ragged and
even desultory in the early going, had by this stage really picked up,
and another point in the Buford/Sammis column might have made their eleventh-hour
run unstoppable. But Wimmer blasted a cross court past Buford, then semi-nicked
a low forehand volley in front of Sammis to expand the lead to 13-9. A
Wimmer drop shot that Buford was unable to react to gave him and Conway
five match-balls, the second of which they salted away when Conway nailed
a ball that careened off Sammis’s racquet, sailing well over the left
wall and into oblivion.

Wimmer and Stanley
had been slated to be partners this weekend in the ISDA
pro doubles tour stop at the Philadelphia Racquet Club. So had R &
T pros Jeff Osborne (who instead played in the Silver Racquet with Matt
Sharnoff) and
Scott Butcher, a 2000 (with Morris Clothier) and 2001 (with Buford) Silver
Racquet champion who played this event with Josiah Hornblower. All four
had been forced to change their plans when the Philadelphia event was
cancelled late last
month.

Stanley and McAndrew
defeated Osborne and Sharnoff in five before their five-game semi-final
loss to Buford and Sammis. Clothier and Andy Walter won
their quarter in four over Jim Ardrey and Ryan O’Connell before losing,
also in four, to Wimmer and Conway.

But the match of
the tournament was, ironically, the only match prior to the quarters in
the nine-team field. Yasir Kamel and J. D. Hill engaged eventual Wimmer/Conway
quarter-final victims Ted Duff and John Burke in a five-game,
four-overtime thriller that was a testament to Kamel’s racquet firepower
and
2002 USSRA 65-and-over finalist Hill’s staying power. After dropping the
first game by one point, this pair actually WON the second game from 7-14
down!
They then took the third easily before losing the fourth in a 3-1 tiebreaker
before rallying late in the fifth to knot the issue at 13-all. Though
they
didn’t win a single point in the ensuing best-of-nine tiebreaker, Kamel
and Hill
exited the court as heroes and got the 2003 Silver Racquet Invitational
off
to a rousing start.

Tournament Recap

Preliminary: Ted
Duff/John Burke d Yasir Kamel/J. D. Hill, 3-2.

Quarters:
Beau Buford/Jessie Sammis d Scott Butcher/Josiah Hornblower, 3-0;
Jeff Stanley/Mac McAndrew d Matt Sharnoff/Jeff Osborne, 3-2;
Andy Walter/Morris Clothier d Ryan O’Connell/Jim Ardrey, 3-1;
John Conway/Noah Wimmer d Duff/Burke, 3-0.

Semis:
Buford/Sammis d Stanley/McAndrew, 3-2;
Conway/Wimmer d Walter/Clothier, 3-1.

Final:
Conway/Wimmer d Buford/Sammis, 3-1 11-15 15-12 15-8 15-10


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