Three Chopt Rallies for 3rd Autumn Cup!

Three Chopt Rallies for 3rd Autumn Cup!

After the first day of the Autumn Cup, Three Chopt Recreation Association was in sixth place out of eight teams. That was certainly no way for the two-time defending champions to open play in the annual competition at Avalon Recreation Association.

“We never know what to expect on the first day,” said Rob Johnston, captain of the Three Chopt team and director of tennis at the Henrico County club.

“The hard part about Friday is to negotiate their work schedule. Some of the guys, they have to take half a day off or certain people can only play really early so they can have half a day at work. So that’s the biggest puzzle on Friday.”

Three Chopt still trailed Ridgetop by three points heading into Sunday’s final, when the defending champs acted more like it, winning 15 of 16 matches to overcome Ridgetop and become the first club to win three straight Autumn Cups.

Three Chopt finished with 83 points, four more than Ridgetop, which went only 8-8 on the last day and posted 79 points. The Metro Richmond Tennis Club, which has been posing more of a threat each year, was third with 78.

As it turns outs, Johnston and his girlfriend, Lynne Gibson, lost Three Chopt’s only match on Sunday, the 8.0 mixed doubles to Wayne Motley and Tanisha Moseley of MRTC. Everybody else picked up two points for the win.

“A beatdown,” smiled Johnston. “But that was our first loss of the entire year so I feel pretty good.”

Did Johnston have to give a pep talk to his troops going into the final day?

“Well, I think everybody at my club knows how important this event is for me,” said Johnston. “I love this event. They love the event. It’s transpired through the years how much they love it. I had over 50 people sign up for the event.

“I think that’s the most I’ve ever had. I let everybody play … and it worked out.”

Johnston pointed out that Three Chopt was involved in “four or five third-set tiebreakers and we won them all,” he said. “That’s huge, in anything like this. It always comes down to third-set breakers between the top clubs competing for the Cup.”

Using the same scoring rules as the Anthem Cup, played the previous weekend between the area’s biggest clubs, winners of each match get two points and losers one.

Lucy Stuckey, who played on one of the 8.0 women’s teams with Kristin Tetterton, believes there was a reason the team got better as the weekend progressed.

“I know for me personally, it was a matter of getting the jitters out [after the first day],” she said. “Get a rhythm going. Get back on track. After all the training and everything we do, it was just a matter of getting refocused.”

Added Johnston, “I will say this. We rebound incredibly well. When we have a down, we always rise up.”

Three Chopt comes into the weekend each year full of confidence, explained Terri Lancaster, part of a 7.0 women’s team and captain of the club’s 3.5 team that is headed to USTA League Nationals Oct. 6-8 in Surprise, Ariz.

“We always feel like we can win it,” said Lancaster, who played with Lara Green in what turned out to be the clinching match over a team from Avalon. “We walk out on the court every single time and we feel like we can win.

“We just take one match at a time. Every player feels like they’re prepared and they go out and they’re competitive. We have confidence in our teammates, we have confidence in our coach, and we have confidence in ourselves and we just go out and play.”

On the men’s side, Colin Atkinson teamed up with Andy Lockard and Bill Cosby in the 8.0 men’s division in contributing to the victory.

“I think everybody knew we had won it a couple of times and, once you get on a roll like that, you don’t want to be responsible for the team losing it, so I think everybody came in with a sense of purpose [on Sunday] and really made the most of it,” said Atkinson.

Kanawha Recreation Association finished fourth with 74 points, followed by Avalon (72), Bon Air (68), Richmond Country Club and Team RVA (each with 61). Team RVA was an independent group after Southampton backed out a couple of weeks before the event.

The tournament includes men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles with combined USTA rated levels from 5.0 to 8.0. For example, teams can have a 3.5 and a 4.5 player at 8.0 or two 4.0 teams. There is only one 5.0 team (women’s).

The 11th annual event, which enjoyed beautiful fall-like weather all weekend, is sponsored by the Richmond Tennis Association. The Autumn Cup is for the smaller clubs and recreation associations not big enough to compete in the Anthem Cup.