The 2016 Mcc Bring-a-Ringer was one of the most well-attended and exciting tournaments we’ve ever had! This featured top-flight players teaming with top-flight Mcc members in mixed doubles action in a round robin format that culminated with an extremely high quality matches. The round robin format had one group of five teams competing on courts 1 & 2 and a second
flight of four teams fighting it out on courts 5 & 6. The matches in the five-team flight had them playing first to four games with a tiebreaker at four-all. In the four-team flight, they played first to five games with a tiebreaker at five-all. All games were no-ad. The format made for quick, exciting matches that left the teams fresh and hungry who survived for the finals. LaLonde/Hall survived a very close first round match against Dixon/Johnson after facing a match point, they won 6-5 (8-6 in the tiebreaker). Because of that clutch win, they went undefeated for their next two matches against two other tough teams, Berliner/Weisseisen (Last year’s finalists) and Hunt/Rashed, two power players of immense ability.
In the other flight (five-teams), Levitt/Harrison and Lockard/Hunter both finished with 3-1 records, so they played one ten-point tiebreaker to decide who would go to the final. With a crowd already gathering, they took up their weapons and took the court. It was very close, with long rallies as LaLonde and Levitt battled with their backhands from the baseline trying to force errors. Levitt/Harrison took the lead 4-3, but then LaLonde/Hall kept everything in the court and with aggressive serving from Hall and strong backhands from LaLonde, they rolled off seven consecutive points to go to the final.
In the final, Hunter elected to serve first and it became obvious why. He had a dynamite serve both in terms of power, placement, and percentage (the three p’s). Hunter never faced a break point, so his service games were very solid with a first serve percentage above 70%. The other players also served well to start the match, with five holds as the score was 2-3 as LaLonde stepped up to serve. Hunger hit a topspin lob winner and after Lockard smacked a strong, low return to set him up, Hunter put a forehand down the line for the first break of the match and a 4-2 lead. Amazingly, with some strong backhands by LaLonde and two excellent dipping forehands by Hall, they broke back on Lockard’s serve, then held Hall’s serve behind two aces to level the set at 4-4. Now things were tense. The crowd could feel the pressure. Hunter held easily to put the pressure right back on LaLonde. On break point against LaLonde’s serve, Lockard crowded the net against the former pro, facing down three tremendous power backhands with firm volleys, until Lockard forced the ball through the middle to win the set 6-4.
LaLonde/Hall chatted on the change-over and it appeared that they still had belief. Lockard/Hunter felt good, but the set had been very close, so they sensed that they could not let up or they would get left in the dust. Hunter started the second set with a love hold of serve. LaLonde blasted a backhand down the line to level the set at 1-1. The set continued in this vein with each team holding, despite some 0-40 holes until the score reached 4-5, LaLonde serving. At 15-30, LaLonde/Hall were facing a crucial point. After a rapid exchange, LaLonde blasted another backhand down the line, but it sailed long, giving Hunter/Lockard three match points. With a clutch topspin lob and another winner down the line, LaLonde/Hall fought off the match points and leveled the set at 5-5. On Hall’s serve, at 5-6, they once again found themselves down 30-40, facing their fourth & fifth match points, and once again, Hall came up with two big serves followed by a clutch volley by LaLonde and an error by Hunter, to bring us to 6-6 and a tiebreaker. LaLonde/Hall started strong, getting a mini-break on Hunter’s serve to begin the breaker, but immediately gave it back by losing a point on LaLonde’s serve. Then, Hunter used his big serve and forehand to set Lockard up for some put away volleys as they ran off six of the last eight points to win the breaker 7-3 and become the 2016 Mcc Ringer Champions! It was Hunter’s first Ringer event and first victory and Lockard’s second title in four years with different Ringers.
Congrats to Linda Lockard & Maurice Hunter, our 2016 Mcc Bring-a-Ringer Champs! They outlasted the very tenacious team of Georgie LaLonde/Stephen Hall who saved 5 match points, but ultimately came up just short 6-4, 7-6 (3) in a great final. Special thanks to Brenda, Jacek, Georgie, Rick Grant, Renard, Sanad, Sherri, Daryl Lemon, Mo Hunter, & Ziga for being our ringers and making this a truly special tournament. Thanks to all the members who participated and had such great attitudes throughout the event. This included Nancy Closson, Maureen Hunt, Karen Berliner, Donna Leventhal, Linda Lockard, Stephen Hall, Joan Hall, Mike Levitt, and Karen Dixon. You all are stars. Thanks to all the spectators who came out and supported the participants. The players really appreciate the support.
Lastly, the men’s impromptu exhibition put on before the final by four of the ringers was a big hit. This was Maureen Hunt’s brain-child and she deserves great credit for making the suggestion. The players gave a high-level exhibition laying all their considerable skills out for us to see. Please be on the lookout for our next tournament so you can join in as a competitor or come out and watch some more scintillating tennis and enjoy food and friendship here at the Marina City Club!