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Postseason play began Friday at Airport Fitness with two hard-fought mixed doubles matches.

Gene Erez and Irina Gerhard took on Jeanne Holenko and Kye Howell in the first match. Both teams showcased some intense, spirited tennis, with spectacular shots from both sides. Mr. Erez and Ms. Gerhard prevailed in two tough sets (6-4, 7-5), and moved on to play again this weekend.

Maggie Mae and Leo McHugh faced off against Tim and Dori Clark in the second match. The first set was a close, grind-it-out affair, with both teams exchanging difficult and well-placed shots. Ms. Mae and Mr. McHugh held on to win the set 7-5. The second set lacked the luster and grit of the first set, as Ms. Mae and Mr. McHugh steamrolled to an easy 6-2 victory and a place in this week’s playoff match.

Playoff tennis continues on Friday at Airport Fitness at 6:30 pm. All are welcome to attend. Those interested in playing tennis may contact the club at 508-696-8000 or stop by at 24 Airport Road, West Tisbury. Call 508-696-8000 for more information.

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A real doubles racket.

Beth Mazza reacts after missing a shot during the Love at First Set tournament. – Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Tennis Center (VTC) held their 19th annual Love at First Set mixed doubles tennis tournament this past weekend. All the proceeds from the competition will go to aid Dana-Farber Cancer Research.

Lucia Hayman lines up a volley at the net.
Lucia Hayman lines up a volley at the net.

Darren Belisle and Lucia Hayman were crowned champions of the 3.5 and up, a more advanced draw, while Shawn and Susie Schofield went undefeated in the 3.5 and under, a less advanced draw.

Skip Dostal and Tammy King lost in final of the 3.5 and higher draw. The game was well matched. Darren’s fierce serves were evenly matched by Skip’s quick movement around the court, while Lucia and Tammy both had many crucial points. “Darren and Lucia have very few weaknesses; we had to hit perfect shots to get points,” said Mr. Dostal in an interview with the Times after the game.

Over the course of the weekend, 15 couples batted for a top spot in their draw. With many familiar faces, the tournament was friendly and polite. “This tournament is enjoyable because it pairs men and women, changing the dynamic of the usual games,” said Chuck Scott to the Times. Mr. Scott is a regular competitor in many of the wintertime tennis tournaments held at the VTC.

“The tournament allows for a change of pace in my usual tennis routine,” said Mr. Scott. “We call it the winter thaw tournament; it keeps us interested in competitive tennis,” he added.

The games were well matched, with many going to the final point. Although the games were close, mixed doubles offered a different type of tennis. “Playing mixed doubles brings out a relaxed, social aspect of tennis that many of the competitors are not accustomed to,” said VTC tennis pro Connie McHugh.

Familiarity with each of the competitors offers its own set of challenges. “The mixed doubles makes it more competitive, and it’s much less drama,” said Beth Sawyer, a competitor in the tournament. “We know each other’s game so well that we have to outsmart each other to win points.”

“Playing with couples of different skill levels gives me the chance to improve my game,” said Susie Schofield, winner of the 3.5 and under draw.

Kyle Howell, a trainer at the VTC, has competed in the tournament for the past three years. He said, “I started getting into tennis a few years ago, and have been improving my game ever since. Playing in these tournaments gives me a chance to develop my tennis technique. In addition, we are playing to support a great cause, which is important.”

“We like to donate to an organization where the proceeds go directly to research. I chose Dana-Farber Cancer Research because all of the proceeds for the tournament will go directly to aid cancer research,” said Ms. McHugh.

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Vineyard Youth Tennis will hold a Munchkin Day on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 3 pm to 4 pm. Children who are in preschool or kindergarten are eligible to sign up, with a minimum age of 4. Children will partake in fun drills, games with prizes, and a snack afterward. Parents must call 508-693-7762 starting on Monday, Feb. 2, at 11 am to register. There is limited availability, and it is expected to fill up fast.

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From left, Skip Dostal, Paula Rego, Michelle Bettencourt, and Shawn Schofield after the Winter Tennis Classic. –Photo courtesy of Connie McHugh

Paula Rego and Skip Dostal won the Winter Tennis Classic held at the Vineyard Tennis Center after taking their final match in a tiebreaker against Michelle Bettencourt and Shawn Schofield this past weekend.  Their scores were 5-7, 6-4, 10-5. Ms. Rego and Mr. Dostal ended up in the finals in another tiebreaker, beating Darren Belisle and Lucia Hayman 6-2, 3- 6, 10-7.

Leo McHugh and Susan Staudt were the champions of their draw, beating Susie Schofield and Kye Howell in the finals. They had an easy road to the last match, defeating Edie Blake and John Hayes 6-0, 6-0.

Kye Howell and Susie Schofield played a tight match with Sally Segal and Peter Norris, ultimately edging them out in a tiebreaker 6-3, 5-7, 12-10.

Each player contributed funds to the Island Food Pantry. A silent auction raised $1,000.

The Vineyard Tennis Center will host Love at First Set, a mixed doubles tournament, Feb. 7 and 8.

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Jack Lionette, left, and Hannah Rabasca after their tournament victories. – Photos courtesy of Scott Smith and Kris Rabasca

Vineyard Youth Tennis players Hannah Rabasca and Jack Lionette won their respective tournaments over the holiday weekend. Hannah won the girls 14 and under level 7 event at the Manchester Athletic Club by scores of 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. She has won her past four USTA tournaments, and is currently ranked 91 in New England. Jack Lionette won his boys 12 and under level 7 tournament at the Sportsmen’s Tennis Club in Dorchester, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

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Chris Ferry is presented the 2014 Pros Award at Vineyard Youth Tennis. — Photo courtesy of Scott Smith

Chris Ferry won the 2014 Pros Award presented at Vineyard Youth Tennis in a ceremony on Monday, December 8.  The Pros agreed that Chris’s listening, effort, dedication and overall attitude was the determining  factor in winning the award, according to a press release. Although there were a few others who were in the running, Chris definitely stood out among his peers. Chris’s name will be permanently displayed in the VYT lobby, and he will receive an all-expenses-paid stay at a tennis camp this summer.

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The bubble at Vineyard Youth Tennis (VYT) will come down Saturday, May 3, at 8:30 am. This is an annual undertaking in which volunteers graciously help. Anyone who has ever benefited from the VYT’s free tennis program is encouraged to help. For more information or to sign up, call 508-693-7762.

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Senior captain Patrick McCarthy rallied for a three set win over Fairhaven's Anthony Joseph at first singles. — Ralph Stewart

The two-time defending state champion Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys tennis team is off to a 3-0 start under new coach Josh Schaan.

“It was a really good first week,” Coach Schaan said. “Fifteen matches played with only one loss: it’s definitely a good sign. This young group that we have is exciting for the future. Patrick [senior captain Patrick McCarthy] is doing a good job encouraging the younger players. He has the good qualities that you like to see in a captain.”

Monday, the Vineyarders defeated host Sandwich, 4-1. The Blue Knights are the first team in the young season to register a point against the Purple. They did it in the first singles match as Matt Martin topped Patrick McCarthy 6-3, 6-0. The Vineyarders turned the tables by winning both doubles matches, 6-1, 6-2. Zak Danz and Dunovan Belisle defeated James O’Brien and Justin Leach at first doubles, while James Kelliher and David Webster beat Jack Caseli and Jack Condin.

The final two singles matches were tough, but the Vineyarders prevailed. Connor Downing won, 6-3, 6-4, over Christian Rossomando at second singles, and Max Hammond outlasted Vincent Tanguilig, 4-6, 6-1 and 10-8, at third singles in a third set tie-breaker.

“We have some tough competition coming up,” Coach Schaan said. “Sandwich was a good test because they’re a bigger school.”

The Vineyarders won, 5-0, over Fairhaven in a non-league match Friday in Oak Bluffs. Patrick McCarthy, the lone starter from last year’s team, struggled early, losing the first set, 6-1, but rebounded impressively, 6-2, 6-3, to beat Anthony Joseph at first singles. The rest of the young Vineyarders rolled in straight sets. Connor Downing defeated Ted Bonnette, 6-0, 6-0. Max Hammond won the third singles match, 6-1, 6-2, over Alex D’Abruzzo.

Both Vineyard doubles teams posted big wins. First doubles tandem Zak Danz and Dunovan Belisle scored a double bagel against Connor Powers and Noah Aurelio, while James Kelliher and David Webster downed Theo Hennen and Andrew Bulhoes, 6-1, 6-1, at second doubles.

Wednesday afternoon in the home opener against Norton, the Vineyarders blanked the Lancers 5-0. Freshmen Max Hammond, Zak Danz, James Kelliher, and David Webster all picked up their first varsity career wins.

With the same lineup as Friday’s match, Patrick McCarthy defeated Brandon Jenkins, 6-0, 6-3; Connor Downing beat Robbie Douglas, 6-0, 6-0; Max Hammond topped Sean Murphy, 6-2, 6-0; Zak Danz and Dunovan Belisle defeated Alex Belinsky and Tony Chen, 6-1, 6-0; and James Kelliher and David Webster bested John Munger and Devin Kalnicki, 6-2, 6-0.

Coach Schaan cited Connor Downing’s win as the performance of the day and praised the aggressiveness and solid defense of both doubles teams.

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Penny Franklin hustles to chip back a volley. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Vineyard Tennis Center hosted the 18th Annual Love at First Set mixed doubles tennis tournament last weekend. Gene Erez and Maggie Mae took highest honors in the “Kisses” draw. They came back from match point down to surpass Lynn Blake and Leo McHugh 4-6, 6-3,11-9.  

Sandy Nadelstein and Penny Franklin trumped the upper level “Hugs” draw over the new pairing of Cathy Lattanzi and Doug Korrell, 6-3, 6-2.

The club offered a “Re-Gift” Silent Auction to the tournament proceeds that benefit Dana Farber Cancer Institute this year. All told, the event raised more than $2,000.

Husband-and-wife teams dominated the team makeup this year.  Todd and Marilda Hollister played their opening round, sliding past Kathy and Ron Forrester, 6-4, 6-4, before bowing to Bev Mazza and Chuck Scott.

Shawn and Susie Schofield pushed through a third-set tiebreaker to overcome Steve and Robin Mussell, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6. The Schofields moved on to the semi-finals and fell to Gene Erez and Maggie Mae, 6-4, 7-5 .

Maggie Mae and Gene Erez outplayed Susan Garrett and John Potter 6-3, 6-3, to earn their berth in the semi-finals. Leo McHugh and Lynn Blake worked their way into the finals, taking Roger and Sharon Spinney, 6-3, 6-0,  then squeezed by Chuck Scott and Bev Mazza, 6-0, 5-7, 10-8.

The Hugs draw recruited some top players into new pairings. T’jark Aldeborgh and Mary Breslauer surpassed Skip Dostal and Lili Cooperrider, 6-1, 6-4, before losing in a tie-breaker, 7-5, 4-6, 10-4,  to Cathy Lattanzi and Doug Korell.

Elizabeth McBride and Ken Armsted put up a tough fight to hang on, 6-4, 6-4, over Paul Ulyatt and Paula Rego. Top seeds Sandy Nadelstein and Penny Franklin entered the finals topping Ken Armsted and Elizabeth McBride, 6-4, 6-1.