The Vermont Senior Games Association staged the second leg of its tennis tournament, the doubles competitions, back at the Burlington Tennis Club on Sunday August 30. Having been rained out the previous Sunday, the players and the Senior Games organizers were pleased to have the opportunity to make up the event. They were blessed with a lovely, if somewhat breezy, fall-like day for the matches.
One of the most intriguing and challenging aspects of Senior Games competitions are the myriad of age groups. Depending upon the event and entries, brackets can feature plenty of athletes, or literally none. For events such as tennis, pickleball, and table tennis, in which players face off head-to-head against multiple opponents, the tournament director often must get creative to devise appropriate pools. As she proved at the prior singles event, Karen Didricksen was up to the task for this contest.
With only two teams vying for the men’s doubles medals in the 50 – 54 – year -old age group, Karen directed them to play two full sets of tennis, with a tiebreaker planned in case of a mixed result.
Yet with six teams seeking medals in the men’s 60 – 69 – year – old age groups, Karen opted for a round-robin format, with each pair playing 5 one-set matches, first side to win 5 games prevailing.
Finally, with many three-team pools, those groups played two matches each, one set but the winner had to capture 8 games.
Great job, Karen!
19 pairs of players earned medals on the day, with several multiple medalists deserving special recognition.
Michelle Cannon, a 51-year old from South Burlington playing in her first Senior Games event, won gold in both women’s and mixed doubles. Two men, Charlotte native Bill Fraser Harris (Michelle’s partner in mixed doubles) and South Burlington’s Bob Kesner, also earned a pair of gold medals on the day. Interestingly, Bob’s mixed doubles partner was Allyson Bolduc, Michelle Cannon’s mom!
Sherry Hadden from Fairfax was awarded a gold medal in women’s doubles to go along with a silver in mixed play. And the age-less Shelburne legend Berni Berg paired his gold in mixed doubles with a bronze medal in men’s doubles – despite competing in an age bracket with players all at least a decade younger.
Among the highlights of the tournament was the sharp play of South Burlington duo Kristin Hartley and Jeanne Hulsen in the women’s doubles pool. On their way to the gold medal in the 60 – 64 – year – old age group, these fine athletes went undefeated in the round-robin, losing only two games combined over three matches.
In that crowded men’s doubles bracket for the 60 – year – old’s, two more South Burlington players, Frank von Turkovich and John Jay Buckley, faced some stiff competition but managed to win each of their matches, besting the team of Gordon Amidon and Rob Zane for the gold medal.
Finally, in the men’s doubles for that 50 – 54 – year – old age category, the team of Jerry Knickerbocker and Hugh Garavan swept to victory, taking both sets in convincing fashion.
The Vermont Senior Games Association would like to specially thank Errol Nattrass of the Burlington Tennis Club once again for his terrific efforts in working with us to hold this event during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then to enable the make-up day for the doubles play.
A complete list of medalists can be found here. Hopefully a fair share of these athletes will be considering a trip to Nationals in Florida next November.