For its second event of 2020, the Vermont Senior Games Association hosted its annual tennis tournament at the Burlington Tennis Club over the weekend of August 22 and 23. In consideration of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, masks were evident everywhere except on the courts, where the action was fast and furious.
Vermont Senior Games officials were encouraged by the amazing number of athletes who chose to participate despite the difficult times – 59 in total, more than double the size of the field from last year. While the singles competitors on Saturday enjoyed stellar, sunny weather (if anything it might have been a touch too warm), Sunday proved to be a different story. Tournament organizers feared that a sketchy forecast would prove problematic, and when heavy rain began to fall right before the 10 am start time, that worry proved to be legitimate. In fact, the entire day’s competition was wiped out, not a match was played. However, thanks to the generosity of Errol Nattrass of the Burlington Tennis Club, the Vermont Senior Games is re-scheduling the doubles brackets for Sunday August 30.
If Saturday’s singles matches were any indication, next Sunday’s doubles should be something special.
Twenty medals were awarded for the singles event. Probably the most compelling age group competition involved the six men vying for the 50 – 54-year-old honors. Even the three players not earning medals in the bracket displayed solid games and outstanding court coverage. When the matches were complete, BTC Club Champion John Tashiro emerged as a most worthy gold medalist. Fellow club members Jerry Knickerbocker and Hugh Garavan shared the top spots, earning the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The women’s bracket was a round-robin featuring athletes ranging in age from 61 up to 82. After a lengthy session of matches, Deborah Larkin made the drive all the way up from North Pownal, Vermont worth it with her undefeated gold medal performance.
While the efforts of all the players were laudable on Saturday, a couple of other fantastic results among the men deserve mention.
In the five-player round-robin pitting the men aged 55 – 69 against each other, Bill Fraser Harris of Charlotte dominated, winning all four of his matches without dropping a single game.
Finally, three admirable gents faced off in the eldest bracket of the day, all of them between 86 – 89 years young. Middlebury’s Dexter Lewis showed off a feisty array of shots and the court coverage of a player decades younger to take the gold medal in that group. Two Shelburne natives, Angelo Pizzagalli and Berni Burg, took home the silver and bronze after some epic matches.
A complete list of medalists can be found here. The Vermont Senior Games looks forward to cooperative weather to complete the doubles tournament on Sunday August 30.