Three-set thrillers the norm in Tahoe Classic |

Three-set thrillers the norm in Tahoe Classic

The 17th annual Tahoe Classic was the closest matched and most competitive of any of the events yet, according to tournament director M.J. “Hersh” Herschman. Eight of the 12 championship finals on Sunday went three sets.

The rains came on Friday but this adversity did not prevent the tournament directors from completing their task of getting all scheduled matches for that day finished very near to on-time.

The match of the tournament was provided by the men’s A division, Herschman said. This match featured the team of Caesars pro Cal Waite – presumably the best tennis player on the South Shore – and Mark Schaller, arguably the best player on the North Shore, being defeated by local lefty Joe Laub and his partner from New Mexico, Stefan Herman, 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-4).

Three tiebreaker sets kept the spectators on the edge of their seats and very well could have been the best match ever played in the 17-year history of the Tahoe Classic.

The men’s A consolation championships also proved exciting as the tenacious John Trotter of Bishop, Calif., teamed with the charismatic Russ Chessler of Mammoth Lakes to win over the courageous Paul Phillips and the dynamic Dave Huskey, both of whom are from Auburn, Calif. The scores were 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

The women’s final found local Vanessa Smaine and her partner Carol Salika of Reno emerging victorious over Miriam Prim and her Southern California partner Gretchen Miller, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. The women’s consolation finals found the tennis expertise of locals Terry Bengtson and Jenny Bentley being tested by Stockton’s Jill Straub and Salina’s Leslie Fisher. Bengtson and Bentley prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The always popular century class lived up to its reputation for excitement. Herschman and the crafty Butch Stillman of Gardnerville had a hard-fought match to win over Mike Taylor and Ed “Grizz” Daley, both of South Lake Tahoe, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Herschman plays a lot of senior tournaments and he believes that Mike Taylor is the most cerebral player that he has ever faced. Paul Phillips and Tom Barry of Auburn produced the upset of the tournament, when they defeated last year’s century champions Mike LaCaze (San Diego) and Rich Taylor (Aptos).

The mixed A division predicted to be the class of the tournament lived up to its billing. Reno’s “lucky” Ray Woolley and Carol Salika defeated Joe Laub and Penne Burgess 6-4, 7-6 (10-8). Woolley has won the mixed A event six years in a row.

Always the perfect gentleman, Woolley would be a good person for any young tennis player to emulate. His hard work, dedication to the game and honest play bring him victory more times than not.

Larry Hawe and Karla Dornhecker, both from Sacramento, posted a mixed A consolation win over Tom Minter of Palm Valley and local Kathy Wharton 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). Minter and Wharton were playing as a team for the first time and they proved to be very worthy opponents.

The ever-steady Steve White of Zephyr Cove, paired with Kelly Patterson of South Lake Tahoe, won the mixed B title over Gardnerville’s Rod and Joy Smith, 6-4, 6-1.

Lake Sherwood’s Ken and Trudy Miya showed their stamina and courage in a tightly fought consolation match with Auburn’s Jack Drimmer and Molly Phillips. The Miyas prevailed 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).

The men’s B class, the finale of the tournament, found the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams meeting in the finals. Rod Smith of Gardnerville teamed with South Lake Tahoe’s Phil Youngs to eke out a victory over South Lake Tahoe’s hard-serving Bill Vollenhals and ambidextrous Neil Trebotich, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

The men’s B consolation title was won by Indian Wells’ Don Brooks, who is always a crowd pleaser and his partner Barry Eckenroth of Phoenix. They were victorious over Mike Thomas and Gary Hammersmith, both from Reno, 6-0, 6-1.

“The Tahoe Classic has become an August event to many tennis players from all parts of the country. Definitely the largest draw for any tennis tournament in all of Douglas County, it is a much enjoyed tournament for both players and spectators,” Herschman said.

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