Patton, Grovers Remain at the Top of Their Games

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Patton, Grovers Remain at the Top of Their Games

RICHMOND– In his younger days, Bruce Patton was a dominant force on the United States Tennis Association’s A Division wheelchair circuit.

But, after a decade or so of traveling the country and winning most of his matches, he chose to take a break.

Patton said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“Two kids growing up,” said Patton. “I just decided I needed to step back. It never left my mind. It was something I always wanted to do, so I finally came back and started again in around 2010. But I was gone [from the circuit] about 15 years.”

Although Patton, 68, has dropped back to the B Division in deference to younger players, the Vietnam veteran has picked up where he left off.

Patton added to his collection of titles on May 20 when he captured both the singles and doubles titles in the B Division of the Midlothian Athletic Club Wheelchair Open tournament presented by the Richmond Tennis Association.

In singles, the Manakin-Sabot resident pulled out a second-set tiebreaker to defeat second-seeded Felix Suero of Kendall Park, N.J., 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).

The top-seeded Patton didn’t lose a set in three matches but had trouble putting Suero away.

“I was clicking on all cylinders in the first set,” said Patton, who lost both of his legs in Vietnam. “Then my serve came down to earth a little bit and he was playing good. I’ve played Felix on several occasions and we go back and forth on [winning] matches.”

Patton tried to play in the A Division when he returned to tennis but discovered his game was more suited to the B level.

“All I want is competitive,” said Patton. “I don’t care if I win all the matches, I just want to be competitive.”

The retired medical technician continues to prove that his game remains more than competitive.

In the A Division, Paddy Donaghey coasted to a 3-0 round-robin record in his return to tournament tennis since undergoing three surgeries since January. He lost the use of both legs when he was shot during a robbery years ago.

An outstanding wheelchair basketball player from the Bronx, N.Y., Donaghey transitioned to tennis in the 1990s and found success. His exploits on the two courts helped him land a job as director of the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association.

Even with the surgeries, Donaghey, 56, has continued to have success on the tennis court.

“I think if I was a little more back to myself, it would have been an easier road,” said Donaghey. “See, I’m hard on myself. But I guess that’s what keeps me going.”

Now a resident of Elkview, W.Va., Donaghey works at a Family YMCA, teaching youth tennis and adaptive sports like basketball.

He’s ranked seventh in the country in the A Division and doesn’t have any plans of slowing down with the surgeries behind him.

In the Men’s C Division, Zach Zomermaand of Short Pump won both of his round-robin matches to claim the title. That was quite a turnaround from a year ago when he played for the first time and went zero for three.

“It was a little rough last year,” said the 31-year-old. “I’ve learned a lot over the last year.”

Zomermaand, who grew up in Orange City, Iowa, has participated in other sports like basketball and lacrosse but is really enjoying tennis.

Zomermaand said he likes the mental part of the game.

“So much strategy involved,” said Zomermaand. “Even on a day like today, not only are you dealing with your opponent, you’re dealing with the heat and other conditions that you don’t have to necessarily deal with in other sports.”

Zomermaand works as a customer service representative for Capital One when he isn’t on the court.

In the women’s C Division, Maureen “Mo” McCamey of Chesterfield emerged as the champion, going 2-0, although she had to go the distance in one third-set ten-point tiebreaker before prevailing.

McCamey, 52, played tennis before losing most of her left leg in a motorcycle accident 18 months ago. She played for Woodlake before the accident.

McCamey said tennis is still an important part of her life.

“I needed something to get me out of the house and make me feel like I could do stuff again,” said McCamey. “That chair is very difficult for me to move around. The strokes are the easy part for me.”

This is the only tournament McCamey has played, but she plans on going out of town in the future.

“I’d like to get to where I could travel and have fun,” said McCamey. “Meet other people who play.”

This was the ninth annual MAC Wheelchair tournament under the direction of Shima and Joe Grover.

The event includes a Friday night of wheelchair players working and playing with folks from Sportable, a local organization that operates to transform the lives of people with physical and visual disabilities through sports.

Shima Grover said this year’s tournament attracted 21 players, the highest number of participants since the first event.

“We had three new players who had never played with us before,” said Grover. “Most of them are glad to be here and planning to come back next year.

“We had two new women players, and I am thrilled because there are a very small number of women who play wheelchair tennis. The club has been very hospitable to us– use their resources to support the tournament, and the nicest thing is they are accessible to wheelchairs.”

Donaghey said the players are very appreciative of the work by the Grovers, MAC and RTA.

“I want to give Shima and Joe and all the [junior] volunteers a lot of kudos,” said Donaghey. “They go way out of their way to satisfy everybody.

“Look at the hospitality. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’re just really, really good people. They should be recognized for what they do, and they never want to have any pats on the back.”

Results:
Men’s Wheelchair A Division doubles
Final: Paddy Donaghey-Thomas Kyler d. Adil Boutahli-Nathan Melnyk 4-2, 4-3.
Men’s Wheelchair B Division doubles
Final: Bruce Patton-Christopher Lamps d. Patrick Burns-Bradley Evans 4-1, 4-2.
Mixed Wheelchair C Division doubles
Final: Holly Petro-Zach Zomermaand d, Megan Anderson-Enrique Carrasco 4-0, 4-3.

A special thank you to our Sponsors and Donors listed below:

Sponsors
Mercedes-Benz Richmond and Midlothian
RTA
Sportable
Midlothian Athletic Club
Grove Avenue Family Dentistry

Donors

Saladworks
Chick-fil-A Chesterfield Plaza
Einstein Bagels Stony Point
USTA-US Open tickets
Washington Kastles
Citi Open
DoubleTree by Hilton Midlothian
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Costco Glen Allen
Costco Mall Drive
Gearharts Chocolates
The Fresh Market
Kroger
Whole Foods Market
Sneed’s Nursery
La Cucina
Burger Bach
Olive Oil Tap Room
Extra Billy
Crosscreek Nursery and Landscaping
Hard Shell
Wood and Iron
Mathnesium
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