Change in Dates Boost Davenport Draws
By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer
When the Richmond Tennis Association decided to move the open division of the Davenport City Tennis Championships from mid-May to mid-June in an effort to attract more entries, it was something of a gamble.
The hope was to attract more college and high-school players, most of whom would be finished with their school team obligations by then. But it’s also the final week for public high schools, when exams are held, and beach week for others.
“We tried to find a weekend that would work for both high-school and college players, and one that didn’t conflict with adult league matches,” said Ginny Wortham, president of the RTA.
“While no weekend will ever be perfect, I’m thrilled with the quantity and quality of players in this year’s tournament. Bill Carli, Rob Johnston, Bridget Reichert and others did an amazing job recruiting players into the draws.
“They have worked tirelessly leading up to this year’s tournament to ensure it’s a success.”
The date change certainly seemed to work in the men’s singles division, where the field of 28 is sprinkled with high-school and college players, while including one of the area’s top teaching pros and a former champion in Michal Ciszek.
Ciszek, the head pro at Willow Oaks Country Club, is the top seed in the men’s field. The native of Poland won the title in 2010.
While Ciszek will be the heavy favorite, he could face some stiff competition from No. 3 seed Cesar Grobel, an assistant pro at Salisbury Country Club, in the semifinals. There are also some strong high-school and college players looming in his half of the draw.
Two-time defending champion Eric Shulman has some tough opposition in his half, too, most notably fourth-seeded Jeremy New and Brett Moorhead, one of four players co-seeded No. 5 Ryan Radke, runner-up the past two years, is also in Shulman’s half.
The men’s quarterfinals and semifinals will both be played on Saturday at Byrd Park, with the final set for noon on Sunday.
The women’s draw, while it doubled from last year, attracted only four players. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.
Wortham, the defending champion, faces Laura Ramthun in one semifinal on Friday at 6:30, while a battle between top juniors, Anna Fuhr and Nina Sorkin, takes place Saturday morning. Sorkin played No. 1 singles for Deep Run High School, and Fuhr was Steward School’s top player.
The women’s final is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday at Byrd Park.
Even the men’s and mixed doubles gained some traction this year. The men’s doubles field, headed by top-seeded Ed Butterworth and Matthew Foote, has 20 teams, and several of them are formidable foes for the favorites.
Grobel and Scott Steinour are the No. 3 seeds, with the collegiate pairing of Moorhead and Liam Sullivan and the prep duo of Bryce DePew and Paul Mendoza adding some spice to the draw. The father-son tandem of Mark and Chase Bernstine is also intriguing.
In mixed doubles, Moorhead and Wortham are the favorites, with Shulman and Sorkin the No. 2 seeds in the field of 10. There are a pair of father-daughter entries in this event, Butterworth and his daughter, Audrey, and Jon and Laura Ramthun.
Just three teams entered women’s doubles, but each of them is top shelf. The trio of Katie Blow-Bridget Reichert, Anna Fuhr-Lindsey Wyeth and Wortham-Leslie Butterworth will battle it out in a round-robin format.
The tentative plan for Sunday is to have the mixed doubles final at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s singles at noon and the men’s doubles championship at 3.