EAST PROVIDENCE — The Second Annual New England Grass Court Open held over the weekend, August 7-9 at the Agawam Hunt Club, had its expected share of triumph, crowning champions in singles and …
EAST PROVIDENCE — The Second Annual New England Grass Court Open held over the weekend, August 7-9 at the Agawam Hunt Club, had its expected share of triumph, crowning champions in singles and doubles, but also included a bit of sport tragedy when one of the top singles competitors in the draw suffered a nasty injury.
The second edition didn’t quite follow the same script as last year, but one of the initial winners, Agawam’s own Dana Parziale, did defend half of a crown. Parziale, the Director of Racquets at the club and who coordinated the event, repeated as half of the victorious doubles team, this year playing with Agawam member and past club champion Evan Ambrose.
Former Smithfield High School standout Matt Kuhar took full advantage of an unfortunate accident in his semifinal match against Daniel Milavsky en route to winning the singles championship. Milavsky broke his ankle late in the contest as he was about to close out the match in the second set.
The New England Grass Court Open was held using the Universal Tennis Rating system. A total of 60 singles players registered for the main draw with 22 doubles tandems. The professional tournament had total prize money of $4,500. The singles champion earned $1,200, while the doubles champs split $1,000.
The singles draw was composed of players under a “modified compass” draw up to the round of 16 to guarantee all registered players a minimum of three matches. Doubles was a single elimination draw.
Parziale and Ambrose, playing as teammates for the first time in a tournament, were winners in two close sets, 6-4 and 6-4, over the duo of Alexander Zuczek and Leo Vithoontien, teammates at NCAA Division III Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Zuczek, a Westerly native, and Vithoontien are entering their senior years and are doubles partners for the Knights.
Parziale had another busy week, not only running the event, but also trying to defend both of his titles. He won the singles and doubles trophies, the latter with a different partner, last summer. This year, he came up one match shy of playing for the solo title, losing in the semis.
Though not in competition, Ambrose and Parziale are familiar hitting partners. A Providence resident, Ambrose is also an accomplished player who similarly is the director of tennis Dedham (Mass.) Country and Polo Club. He and Parziale have played and practiced together often, but had not paired in an official event until last weekend.
“We served really well,” Parziale said of he and Ambrose. “It was really a serving exhibition by us. The finals were really tough. We just found breaks of serve at good moments to win both sets.”
For the 24-year-old Kuhar, a former two-time Rhode Island Interscholastic League singles champion, he made the best of an opponent’s misfortune and turned it into a victory.
Seeded second, Kuhar, who played at Bryant University after high school, trailed third seed Milavsky, a top player for Harvard University, 2-6 and 4-5 when tragedy struck. Milavsky snapped his ankle diving for a shot on a deuce point in the 10th game of the second set.
Kuhar advanced to the final by injury default where he faced top-seeded Ryan Goetz, winning the championship also in two very tight sets, 7-6 and 6-4. Goetz, a junior at the University of Virginia who plays No. 1 for the Cavaliers and is 38th in the UTR college rankings, defeated fourth-seeded Parziale, 4-and-3, in his semi.
“(Milavsky) just landed wrong. It was really sad, really unlucky for him,” Parziale observed of the singles draw. “Matt took advantage of the situation and played very well in the final.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy - and many of the advertisers who support our work - to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at eastbayri.com - we believe it is our mission is to deliver vital information to our communities. If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please consider a tax-deductible donation.
Thank you for your support!
Matt Hayes, EP Post Publisher