Members of the National Tennis Club and their guests were treated to a most enjoyable night of tennis and good cheer on Wednesday evening (3/22) as the Club hosted the final regular match of the 2016-2017 National League. There were familiar faces, faces from the past and most importantly new faces, young and old. Although the scoreboard didn’t reflect it at the end of the evening, the smiles, laughs, conversations and good times by all accounts made the evening a success. In addition to the fine display of tennis put on by the players, guests and members alike had an opportunity to get on court for a”Hit the Grille” competition sponsored by club members Richard Gilder and Bob Rulli’s, Real Tennis Magazine. In what will sure lead to a high level investigation, Mike Gooding’s wife Amanda won the novice competition, and Ben Dickinson won the members competition which rewarded him with a bottle of champagne which should age well in the 8 plus years he will need to wait in order to legally drink it. Both Amanda and Ben also received a 1 year subscription to Real Tennis Magazine. With the exception of the World Championship events last year, in this members opinion, the night was the most enjoyable combination of tennis and hospitality that I have enjoyed since joining the Club. Congratulations to Shirley Freitag and her team on the social front, and also to Mike & Nicky on the tennis front for their collective successful efforts in promoting the evening.
The last National League match of the season was hosted at the National Tennis Club, where New England welcomed the Chicago/Philadelphia team. Both teams were looking to finish the regular season in top-spot, and qualify for the National League Final in Washington.
The 1st match of the night featured Mike Gooding against John Lumley. A good crowd had turned up to see their new Head Professional play for the first time. Mike really took it to John Lumley, who is world ranked #10. The first set was closely fought but John was too strong on the important points, clinching it 6/4 .The 2nd set followed the same pattern, games were tightly contested but again John was clinical when he needed to be. He sent Chicago out to an early lead – 6/4 6/3.
The 2nd match of the evening was between Nick Howell vs. Steve Virgona. By now, NTC had more than 60 members and guests in attendance to support the players. The early exchanges did not disappoint, both players finding their rhythm early on. Games were tightly fought, with the majority decided on game-ball. Steve had the edge for most of the first set, but Nick managed to bring it level at 4/4. The 9th game went to game ball, where Steve won the important game ball to go 5/4 up. The momentum was with Steve, and he was able to close out the set 6/4. Nick aggravated a shoulder injury at the end of the first set which began to trouble him. With Howell unable to apply pressure, Virgona was able to dictate play and clinch the match 6/4 6/0.
The members and their guests got a chance to show the Pros how things should be done during the traditional Grille competition. First up were the guests, who were stepping on court for the first time. The winner would get an NTC ‘Taste of Tennis’ membership, and a subscription to Real Tennis Magazine. 7 guests tried their luck with many of them finding the Grille! It was then the turn of the members, with more than 30 trying their hand to win a bottle of champagne. Only 3 members hit the grille, putting them into the next round. It was young junior, Ben Dickinson, who won the sudden death shootout, and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for his parents!
The Doubles match followed the Grille competition, rounding off the evening. Steve and John came out firing on all cylinders, and opened up an early lead. Despite some gutsy resistance from Mike and Nick it was the pair from Chicago/Philadelphia who triumphed 8/3.
NTC members were treated to a great evening of top quality National League Tennis, with all those in attendance agreeing that the event was a huge success for the club.
The same two teams will face off in the National League Final in Washington next month in what promises to be a great event!