USTA National Men's 70 & 75 Indoor Championships
Houston, TX ... March 11-16, 2019
Tournament Director Keith Christman and his cadre of officials did their perennial great job in running off the 70 & 75 Indoor in Houston. It’s a tournament run with the players in mind, from the friendly staff, to the complete facility, to the Tournament Dinner, to the array of services available. The tournament hotel (the Whitehall) is across the street – the walk over to the tournament desk serves as a preliminary warm-up. And the weather inside is perfect!
Several of the courts have bleachers, which made viewing the good matches easy. And there were a lot of good matches! The tournament attracts most of the top players in the two age groups, partly because selection for the US World Cup teams follows shortly thereafter.
Overall, the seeds held up pretty well in all the draws. Brent Abel, the #2 seed in the 70’s, retired in the third set to Mas Kimball with an illness in the 16’s, but Padg Bolton ably filled that semifinal. There he gave eventual winner, Bob Litwin, his toughest match of the tournament. The #1 seed, Canadian Ken Dahl, retired at 2-4 in the third set against Brian Cheney in the other semi. Litwin then beat his doubles partner, showing no mercy at all, 6-3, 6-0. The two had won the doubles the day before by default when Dahl and Abel withdrew. In the semis, Cheney and Litwin had ousted Neal Newman and Larry Turville in an excellent match featuring four former World Champions on one court.
A few years back I remember thinking that the 75’s were looking a bit geriatric. Now that I be one, somehow they just don’t look as old! It’s weird. A lot of the players who are still playing are guys I’ve known for years, and maybe a hint of their younger selves still shines through. At any rate, I’m proud of how spry our group is – our level of play ain’t that bad. I’m not sure those young guys in the 35’s would agree, but hey, wait ‘til they get there! (If they do)
There were a couple upsets in the quarters of the singles, with Hank Irvine upsetting former winner Leland Housman 6-3,3-6,6-3. Hank has lost some weight, and is fit and playing well. His doubles partner, transplanted Swede Evert Jonsson prevailed over #3 seed Dave Dollins in a hard-fought match 7-5,6-1. Unfortunately, for Evert, he ended up on my side of the draw again (we have played ten singles and doubles matches against each other in the last year). However, he is now ranked in the Top Twenty in the world in singles, and #4 in doubles!
So, #2 seed Don Long and I ended up in the final for the fourth time in the last five nationals. As usual, we had a knock-down drag-out, with me prevailing in straight sets. We always have hairy points and games! Last year on the first point of our match, we had what our umpire (after the match) called “the best point I’ve ever seen!” Probably an exaggeration, but…. In the doubles final, Dean Corley and I, playing in our first tournament together, beat Evert and Hank 6-2,6-2.
You can check out some of the action by way of Ralph Grieco’s photos. Ralph was the inspiration behind our NSMTA Community Outreach Program, which we kicked off in Houston. Our players raised $700 to be donated to the Houston NJTL, which was matched by your NSMTA. Thanks to all who contributed!