Clay Court Command on Display at VSG Tennis Tourney

Ideal weather greeted the Vermont Senior Games athletes at the Burlington Tennis Club over the weekend of August 24 and 25, 2019. With the clay courts in optimal condition, the VSG players exhibited impressive skills and played some outstanding matches.

The BTC was a new venue for the VSG, and it proved to be an excellent site for the tournament, with shade for the spectators and an especially prime view of the two upper courts. Tourney director Karen Didricksen of the New England USTA did an outstanding job of creating the round-robin brackets, especially considering the 35-year age difference between some of the athletes. She also insured that the players got in their share of tennis – in the singles, each individual played a minimum of four regular sets, while in the doubles the teams completed at least three eight-game “pro sets.”

While limited entries necessitated cancelling the women’s singles, there were two competitive flights of men’s singles staged on Saturday August 24. Maury Smith of Randolph won the age 50-65 pool in stellar fashion, topping Burlington’s Bret Findley in an exciting sudden-death tiebreaker. 

In the 65+ age category, Dave McNeff from Wayland, Massachusetts shook off the long drive to earn the title, besting Russell Newton of Essex Junction in another 6-5 tiebreak to go undefeated in pool play. Newton then earned second place in the group with a win over Lincoln, Vermont’s Ken Schoen in the last match of the day, with Schoen settling for the bronze medal in the 65-69-year-old age group.

Sunday featured the doubles competitions, and several terrific teams really stood out.

Bret Findley earned some redemption in teaming with Juan Margarit from Jericho to dominate the men’s doubles tournament, winning their matches by a combined 24-7 score.

The mixed doubles bracket belonged to the Demidenkos, Eugene and Valentina, of Norwich. In similarly dominant fashion, the Demidenkos waltzed through their opponents by a 24-6 margin.

Finally, a southern Vermont duo shone in the women’s doubles. Susan Madrigan from Brattleboro and Williamsville’s Joan Weir, both of whom played in the National Senior Games tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico two months ago, smoothly managed their court strategies and showed off extremely consistent ball-striking abilities to go undefeated in poll play as well.

All in all, Vermont Senior Games athletes enjoyed a full weekend of tennis, and tournament organizers hope to return to the BTC again in 2020.