The finals of this year’s Calcutta was played on a very sunny Sunday afternoon in October. Black birds criss-crossed over court 1 as the four finalists took the court. Edie Estrada and Michael Pridgen with a handicap of 19, elected to serve first from the sunny side of the court, as Barb Fier and Mike Levitt took their positions and contemplated the uphill climb from their handicap of 6. The teams would play 2 out of 3 “sets.” A “set” in the Calcutta consists of getting to 32 points first. The additional twist is that the match is sudden-death at 31-31. The “sets” would start with Edie and Michael leading 19-6 at the start of each one.
Mike and Barb started off strong, quickly making up ground while making very few errors. Before too long, the score was knotted at 22-22, but then things got a little tighter as Edie kept balls in play and Michael sprinted around hitting heavy topspin. Finally, the first set went to Barb and Mike 32-26.
The teams switched sides and Mike and Barb got the serve first in the second “set.” It was Edie and Michael’s turn to hit some great returns off Mike’s high kicking service and they shocked Barb and Mike by building their lead to 29-13. Barb and Mike tried valiantly to make up the long distance in points, but eventually succumbed as one of their goundies clipped the net cord to give the set to Edie and Michael 32-22.
This back and forth set the stage for a very entertaining third round. Again, Mike served first, but this time came out of the gate strong hitting a high percentage of first serves and making up ground by winning four points in a row. There were many long points as both teams resisted the temptation to hit hard because errors were so costly. Barb kept taking Edie’s lobs out of the air to avoid deep, high bounces, and Mike kept hitting tough forehands down the middle, confusing his opposition. After many great points, enjoyed by the assembled masses (this was our best turn-out ever for a final here at Mcc!), Mike and Barb stood at match point on Mike’s serve at 31-29. They kept hitting deep to Edie and she kept the ball coming back, finally drawing an error from Mike and making the score 31-30. Would we have a sudden death final set at 31-31? Michael Pridgen set to serve and missed his first in the net. His second serve cleared and kicked into the box with authority. Mike hit a strong return, but Michael attacked anyway, then got into a volley exchange with Barb. Barb hung on, blocking back Michael’s low volleys, until she hit a strong half volley down the middle that Michael stretched for and netted, surrendering the match to Barb and Mike, 32-30 in the third and final set.
It was a great final and a great tournament. Congrats to all the wonderful players who braved the difficult pressures that are unique to a Calcutta. Special thanks to all the bidders who helped contribute to the excitement and over $500 for the Venice Boys & Girls Club! Our other “in the money” teams were Gail Haller and Carlos Dunkerly who finished third, 10% of the pot for their owners, and Nancy Closson and Andy Rosen, who won our Gold Division, also earning 10% for their owners.
I’d like to give special thanks to Richard Reinjohn for tirelessly promoting this tournament over the last two months and doing a great job of mc-ing the auction! I’d also like to thank our wonderful Tennis Coordinator for grilling great burgers and dogs and lugging drinks down to Court 1 for us to enjoy during the matches. See you next year for another exciting event!