Albuquerque Tennis Fans,
What a tournament! 1981 NCAA Participant Tony Richey and his partner Dave Sims claimed the inaugural “Hopkins Cup” in memory of longtime MNL player and UNM Tennis supporter, Sean Hopkins.
Richey/Sims won with passion, energy, and good old fashioned solid DOUBLES. It was an absolute treat to watch these guys celebrate their win! They now have 365 days of bragging rights.
The tournament started last Monday as every team was excited to play the round of 32 and 16. The tournament wrapped up late last night as the teams played the quarters, semis, and finals.
The first Monday saw the biggest upset of the tournament as defending MNL Champions, Johnny Kowalski and Kim Delman upset the second seeded pair of Matt Neeld and Gavin Korsan 8-3.
There were two matches of note on the first Monday. The first being Tate Rubenstein and Eric Tuggle’s 8-7 win over Cody Hall and Randy Smith. It was an exciting match as Hall/Smith served for the match at 7-5 but couldn’t convert. There were hustle plays all over the court and finally on their first match point Rubenstein/Tuggle sealed the 8-7 (5) win when a Smith return found the net.
The other match of the first day was Team LPTA’s win over Gary Stansifer and Mark Davis 8-7 and 13-11 in the tiebreaker! Both teams were so clutch saving match point after match point with winning poaches and overheads instead of errors. The quality of the match was so high, it had spectators standing to applaud after nearly every single point!
It was a great way to close out a competitive first day. After that match completed, only the final eight teams were left to duke it out.
The clear favorites going into the quarters were Garg and Moore. The pair were the only undefeated team throughout all group play and earned the #1 seed. They cruised to an 8-3 win in the round of 16 and a convincing 8-1 in the quarters to set up a semi final match with Richey and Sims. These teams met during group play with Garg/Moore winning in straight sets.
The other semi final match saw the Santa Fe pair of former Lobo Michael Polasek and Paul Otte against Team LPTA. Unfortunately, this match would not live up to the billing as Polasek’s leg wouldn’t allow him to play as well as we all know he can. Nothing can be taken away from Team LPTA though, as they were business like in their approach to the match. They played well beyond their age and throttled the hobbled team 8-1.
Team LPTA would await the winner of Richey/Sims vs Garg/Moore. It was the match of the tournament by far. The match started out with high intensity, quick-hands, big serves, clutch returns, and it ended even better than it started. There were breaks, and break-backs, there were touch lob volleys by Moore, big time dominate tennis from Garg and Richey, and clutch returning and poaching by Sims.
It was an absolute shame that one team had to lose. As cliche as that sounds, it was 100% true. The moment of the match came (because I have to pick one) at Garg serving 3-4 in the tiebreaker. Garg misses his first serve, then hits a great kicking, deep in the box second serve that Sims moved up on and took early. Sims blocks it back low to Garg charging in after his serve. Garg hits an awesome low flying, and even lower bouncing half-volley to Sims.
At this moment it’s sink or swim for Sims. If he Sims hits the ball back hard, it either goes out or it’s high and Garg or Moore (poaching) take out the garbage for sure. If Sims takes it out of the air he most likely misses the shot altogether. Sims elected to put on the brakes, hit a soft, slow, low-boucing half-volley back to Garg and away from the ever lurking Moore. By hitting the ball slow, it gave both Richey and Sims time to advance further towards the net. This caught Garg off balance and he popped the ball up to Sims who finished the job he started. 5-3 now Richey/Sims.
Richey and Sims would win the next point giving themselves match point at 6-3. Sims hits his biggest serve all night. Flat out wide to Moore’s susceptible one-handed backhand return. Moore rises to the occasion and rips a BH cross court away from the flying Gorilla Richey! Big time play from the young fella. 6-4. Every fiber in me thought Sims would serve Garg BH and every fiber in me thought Richey would be poaching and Garg would unleash a BH down the line and get this thing back on serve at 5-6. Then a funny thing happened that does tend to happen in the realm of sports. Sims delivered the BH, slightly body serve…Richey moved to the middle looking for any garbage to take out, but Garg blinked for a split second, and split seconds are the difference in winning and losing sometimes. Instead of ripping and going for it, Garg, blinked and hit a bunt lob return. This gave the GORILLA enough time to adjust off the poach, set his feet, and unload an overhead through the middle for the winner. Game. Set. Match. Richey and Sims.
It was one helluva match. It’s a shame more people weren’t there to watch it. All four players wanted to win and I really appreciate that. All too often, players will give the illusion that it doesn’t really matter what the outcome is. That can get boring. This was passion, intensity, and will to survive and advance at it’s finest. Doesn’t matter that the Wimbledon championship wasn’t up for grabs last night. Something was on the line and all four players wanted it! Amazing tennis. Richey/Sims def. Garg/Moore 8-7 (4) to advance to the finals against Team LPTA.
The finals started off pretty slow for LPTA and lightning quick for Richey and Sims. They knew a fast start would likely seal the deal and they wasted no time getting out to a double-break 3-0 lead. LPTA finally settled in, but it was a bit too little too late. Richey finally hit a second serve ace out wide on the deuce side on their first match point to seal the championship! It was a good match and the youngsters gained some invaluable knowledge on how to play “men’s doubles.”
“I’m so happy we were able to play well tonight,” Said an elated Richey. “Personally, I really wanted to get my hands on the Hopkins Cup. Sean was a dear friend of mine, and all of ours really, so I’m just so happy to get my name on his cup.”
“It was great playing with Tony. I though we played the big points pretty well tonight,” said Sims.
They sure did. When asked about that clutch shot in the semis, Sims said, “I knew it was a big opportunity, I tried to hit the ball low and close in to get a good look at the next ball. I’m just glad I was able to pull it off.”
In the end, it was a great night and an awesome tournament for a good cause.
We thank you all once again for your generous donation of your time and of your money. Without your support these student-athletes would not have as enjoyable an experience as they would without your support.
On behalf of our players, our entire coaching staff, the LETC staff, and everyone else involved, THANK YOU and GO LOBOS!!!!!!