25th year overall for junior showcase which started in 1991
Published in the September 2, 2015 edition
WAKEFIELD — Thirty-four players competed in many impressive and enthusiastic tennis matches this past weekend at the still gleaming Dobbins Courts at Wakefield Memorial High School.
The sun shone brightly on this 25th annual event with champions crowned in five age brackets.
Boys’ 12 & Under
The Boys’ 12 and under division usually draws a big field and this year was no different with 11 strong contestants. For the third year in a row this group was the largest of the tournament.
In first-round action, returning veteran Danny Hurley defeated newcomer Max Guida 6-1, 6-0, Kyle Russell bettered Max Cusack 6-2, 6-4 in a battle of rookies, and 8-year-old Luke Greif won over 7-year-old Gabe Guida 6-0, 6-0.
The deep field produced four competitive quarterfinal matches.
In a tight contest, Brett Butler outdueled Hurley 7-5, 6-4. Zach Goff showed an improved game over last year with his victory over Russell 6-4, 6-3. Johnny Whitson displayed great court coverage but was unable to get past Sean Russell, who took a 6-3, 6-2 decision. In the final quarterfinal match, Greif and Ben Palmer played an excellent match with the clutch Greif pulling away in the third set for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 win.
The Sunday morning semifinals provided more exciting action with Goff surpassing Butler 6-2, 6-4. In the second longest match of the weekend, Greif and Russell battled for almost three hours before Russell had to retire. The match featured point after point of topspin forehands and 20-shot rallies. The final score of the match was 6-3, 6-7 (5-3), 3-0 (retired) in Greif’s favor.
In the finals, Greif became the tournament’s youngest champion at 8 years old, bettering Goff 6-1, 6-0. The match consisted of long, competitive games and asked to describe the match, Goff needed only one word, “deuce.” Most of the games went to deuce, including one game that reached 13 deuces.
In the consolation round, the players went to an eight game Pro Set format. Whitson triumphed over Cusack 9-7, and Palmer prevailed over Hurley 8-2 before Palmer took his second consecutive consolation crown with an 8-1 win over Whitson.
Boys’ 14 & Under
The nine boys entered in this year’s 14 and under bracket proved to be as deep in talent as any in recent memory.
In the first round play-in, Aidan Cusack defeated Ian Schermerhorn 6-2, 6-4 in an excellent, athletic match.
In the quarterfinals, returning champ Jonathan Stumpf was able to hold off Cusack 6-1, 6-2 and Lucas Smith won over Andrew Russell 6-0, 6-0. Tournament veteran Jack Palmer took a victory over rookie Matt Pecjo 6-0, 6-0. Matt Boudreau returned after a year off, only to run into a buzzsaw named Noah Greif. Greif prevailed by a 6-0, 6-0 score.
Sunday morning’s semifinals provided two excellent matches.
Greif and Palmer met up in a rematch of last year’s 12 and under final. Like last year, this year’s match featured excellent shot making and great court coverage. Greif bettered Palmer by a 6-3, 6-0 score. The second semifinal featured lefties Smith and last year’s 14 and under champion, Stumpf. Both players have a history of long, grueling duels and this match proved no different. In the longest face-off of the tournament, Smith and Stumpf battled for three hours before Smith emerged with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win, snapping a two-year winning streak for Stumpf.
In another rematch of last year’s action, Greif and Smith locked up for a tough three set match in the finals. Smith took the first set in a tie breaker but Greif rallied from there to take his second consecutive crown by a 6-7 (3-5), 6-1, 6-2 score in a grueling match played under a hot midday sun. Both players made shot after shot and ran down every ball in a spirited match that received repeated rounds of applause from the spectators.
In the consolation bracket, Boudreau took home the consolation crown in a tough three-setter with a win over the very able Schermerhorn 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Girls’ 12 & Under
The Girls’ 12 and under division featured returning veteran Olivia Goff and four rookies.
Goff got the action started Saturday morning with a solid victory over newcomer Emma Farrell 6-0, 6-0, then continued on her roll through the semifinals with a win over another newcomer Hannah Guay 6-1, 6-2. Laura Sweeney and Erica Pecjo, also first time entrants, met in the second semifinal with Sweeney moving onto the finals with a 6-1, 6-2 win.
Goff, who was the finalist in this division in last year’s tournament, relied on her tournament experience to top Sweeney 6-1, 6-2.
Girls’ High School
The high school girls’ field included four tournament veterans and one new entry.
In the first round, last year’s 14 and under champion Caroline Hurley gamely played up a level but was unable to solve MollyBeth Whitson, who prevailed 6-1, 6-2.
In the first semifinal, veteran Grace Hurley started slowly but was able to get on track to get past the steady play of Haley Tanner 7-5, 6-1. In the second semifinal, Sarah Stumpf overpowered Whitson 6-0, 6-2.
Stumpf and Hurley squared off in the finals for the last match in their Geoffrey Walter Junior Tournament careers. The two have traded victories in their previous match-ups. This year Stumpf got the better of Hurley to win her first tournament championship 6-3, 6-2 in a match that showcased the high school tennis team’s best.
In consolation action, Caroline Hurley took the consolation crown as she slipped past the sprightly play of Kelsey Callahan.
Boys’ High School
The high school boys’ bracket was filled this year with four strong entrants.
In a play-in match, first time entry and member of the Wakefield Memorial High’s tennis team Zach Covelle squeaked past Wakefield Memorial High golfer and baseball player Tim Hurley 6-3, 6-3.
In the first semifinal match, Covelle kept the momentum going against BC High sophomore and tournament veteran Michael Sticca 6-4, 6-3. In the other semifinal James Hanron, captain of the Wakefield Memorial High tennis team and another first time entrant, defeated Mark Auld 6-0, 6-0.
The two teammates squared off in the finals with Hanron exceeding the quiet and steady Covelle 6-3, 6-3.
Each year the Geoffrey Walter Tournament is proud to have a field filled with excellent competitors and many examples of sportsmanship. Sarah Stumpf, a tournament competitor since 2009, displayed outstanding play over the weekend and has gained the notice of the tournament committee for many years. It was a pleasure to recognize her this year with the 2015 Geoffrey Walter Sportsmanship Award.
The WMHS girls’ tennis team can now boast three sportsmanship award winners. Sarah joins 2013 winner MollyBeth Whitson and 2014 winner Grace Hurley in this group. The talented trio will be a strong force during next spring’s high school season.
This year was the 25th annual event, which was created by Bill Conley and John Ludlow in 1991. As part of the milestone year photos and past Wakefield Daily Item articles were on display to remember many wonderful weekends of junior tennis at the Dobbins Courts. Both Conley and Ludlow were thanked during the wrap up ceremonies for generously giving their time over the past 25 years and sharing their knowledge and love of tennis with many young players.
Thanks were also extended to the many families who have supported the event since it began and those who have been part of the last 13 years, creating a terrific weekend of tennis honoring Geoffrey Walter’s memory.
A special thanks goes out to The Savings Bank, the primary sponsor of the Geoffrey Walter Jr. Tennis Tournament.
The committee wishes to thank the T-Stop for their tremendous work on the tournament T-shirts, John Tranfaglia for his generous donation of Head tennis equipment and Janet and Joe DeGuglielmo for their popular contribution of slush, a welcome refreshment over the warm weekend. The success of the weekend was made possible by all of these donations.
Special thanks were extended once again to the Callahan clan who graciously supplied the now-traditional “Breakfast at Dobbins” French toast to the rave reviews of the Sunday morning crowd. Next year’s fans are advised to arrive early Sunday morning as the French toast goes quickly, the tournament equivalent of hot cakes.
There was a terrific turnout of many members of the Wakefield tennis community supporting this tournament including local tennis legend Pat Zagaria and Bear Hill Coach Balty Galloway.