Robertson vying for 10th straight title

WAKEFIELD — Nine-time champion Brian Robertson, now also serving as chairman of the Hartshorne Cup, hit his seeds on the button as 2013 finalist Adam Milholland, 2014 finalist Jonathan Laramie and 2014 semifinalist Clifford “Kip” King all advanced with him to the second weekend of the most important tennis event of the year.

Of the dozen championship matches bringing the main field from 16 to four and the two consolation matches cutting that field from six to four, only one clear cut upset was in the cards as newcomer Matthew Parment, showing great consistency from the very start, took a love set from King, who at 30-40 kept missing long as he had trouble controlling his innate power.

But King, who made the semifinals for the first time last year, buckled down to his task (he has probably played more three setters in the Hartshorne over the last several years than anyone else). With that experience in hand, King got the key break he needed in the sixth game of the second set after one of the longest games in recent years, a 22 point struggle through eight deuces to earn a 4-2 edge.

Although Parment held the eighth game, King evened the match as his serve got stronger and, although Parment tried to hang tight, he was no longer the threat he was for the first dozen games. In winning 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 the points per set were 12-24, 39-33, 26-16 for a 77-73 margin for King.

King on Sunday then checked Bill Conley, who for years has clearly been the best of the older players. In winning 6-4, 6-1 King was hard pressed for nearly an hour. Conley went ahead 2-1 after a 14 point, four deuce struggle in the third game but the decision really came in the ninth game.

With the match 4-4 in games and 29-29 in points, a spectacularly played 16 point, five deuce seesaw struggle went to King and Conley finally was clearly tired. King won the next game for the set at 15 and then dominated the second set, winning the first and seventh games at deuce. The points per set were 42-37 and 29-17 for King’s 71-54 margin.

Robertson, as expected, was unscathed on the opening weekend, blanking D. J. Cook by a 50-18 margin, the sets being 24-6 and 26-12 as Cook twice reached deuce in the second set and then checking Richard Greif 6-2, 6-2 as Greif intelligently used his excellent forehand to stretch Robertson all over the court, forcing some backcourt errors.

The champion rose to the occasion and took seven straight games from 2-2 in the first set to 3-0 in the second set. Greif got back to 4-2 but Robertson won the last two games at 30 and 15. The points were 30-19 and 27-17 for a Robertson margin of 57-36.

In the bottom half of the draw both Milholland and Laramie scored blankings on June 10 against the two oldest players in the tourney and then played their quarterfinals June 16.

Milholland downed Paul Normile 6-0, 6-1, the love first set possibly being a Wakefield record as Normile won 30 points, yet not a single game. The games were 16 points, five deuces; 10 points, two deuces; a game at 15, another 10 points, two deuces; 20 points, seven deuces and finally 12 points, three deuces, an amazing 19 deuces in one set won at love.

Normile, using attacking ground strokes, came close but could not convert enough net volleys. Milholland dictated play in the second set, which had only one deuced game. The points were 43-30 and 28-14 for a 71-44 edge.

Laramie topped Rob Imbriano, a semifinalist in 2014, 6-2, 6-2 in the other quarterfinal, which also had five deuced games in the first set. Laramie went to 3-0 early by winning 21 of 36 points, held after 12 points in a three deuce game, broke after 14 points in a four deuce game and held after 10 points in a two deuce game.

Laramie’s passing shots (he had no misses in his first round match) were a bit too much for Imbriano’s net play. But with Laramie up 3-0 in the second set, Imbriano suddenly took back to back love games to close to 3-2. Laramie shut the rally down with his own love game and one at 15 to reach match game where Imbriano, always a fighter, reached deuce before going down.

Other First Round Clashes

In the other first round clashes, Greif checked Al Allard 6-3, 6-0, Conley topped Kiran Kashalkar 6-1, 6-1, Imbriano downed Tom Flynn 6-0, 6-2, and Normile was victorious over Elliott Miller 6-2, 6-3.

Allard, attempting a comeback in the Hartshorne in his first appearance in five years, was full of energy early on, getting even at 1-1 by holding a 14 point, four deuce game only to have Greif hold a 12 point, three deuce game for 2-1. Allard piled up points in the first set but began fading under Greif’s consistency in the second. The points were 36-30 and 27-12 for a 63-42 margin.

Conley, in his 25th Hartshorne Cup appearance, faced Kashalkar, one of two newcomers to the event, and used his experience, net game, slice shots and overall consistency against an opponent who the next day proved he will improve his game by advancing in the consolations. The point margins were 27-18 and 32-21 for a 59-39 total.

Imbriano toppled Flynn serving well and defending well as Flynn missed often by inches down the sidelines, especially in seeking winners. The points were 28-14 and 28-20 for a 56-34 edge.

Miller, a big hitter who usually seems to need a match before he can start winning, once again headed for the consolations, an event he has won four times, after an excellent performance by Normile. Miller took a 2-0 lead in the second set but rolled over on his foot, so Normile took advantage of the limping Miller by pounding shots into the back corners of the court. The points were 29-16 and 31-22 for a point margin of 60-38.

Consolation Matches

The two newcomers, Parment and Kashalkar, carded consolation wins Sunday and will clash Saturday in a semifinal for the right to meet the Miller-Cook winner for the prizes offered by the Hartshorne Insurance Agency for the champion and the runner-up in both the championship and consolation events.

Parment downed Allard 6-0, 6-3 although this time Allard was getting stronger as the match moved onward, twice being close to breaking through in the second set. But Parment showed he can only be outgunned by someone like King, one of the hardest hitters in town. The points per set were 24-12 and 30-24 for 54-36.

Kashalkar stopped Flynn 6-4, 6-3 by taking the first set two breaks to one even though Flynn held a 16 point, five deuce and a 10 point, two deuce game. Down 2-1 in the second set, Kashalkar had the best run of the match, winning four straight games to 5-2 before Flynn got one back before yielding.



First Round

Top Quarter: Brian Robertson (1) d. D. J. Cook 6-0, 6-0; Richard Greif d. Al Allard 6-3, 6-0.

Second Quarter: Cliff “Kip” King (4) d. Matthew Parment 0-6, 6-3, 6-3; Bill Conley d. Kiran Kashalkar 6-1, 6-1.

Third Quarter: Jonathan Laramie (3) d. Bud Keohan 6-0, 6-0; Rob Imbriano d. Tom Flynn 6-0, 6-2.

Bottom Quarter: Paul Normile d. Elliot Miller 6-2, 6-3; Adam Milholland (2) d. Kevin Geaney 6-0, 6-0.


Quarterfinals: Robertson d. Greif 6-2, 6-2; King d. Conley 6-4, 6-1; Laramie d. Imbriano 6-2, 6-2; Milholland d. Normile 6-0, 6-1.

Consolation Quarterfinals: Kashalkar d. Flynn 6-4, 6-3; Parment d. Allard 6-0, 6-3.


Championship semifinals: Robertson (1) vs. King (4) and Milholland (2) vs. Laramie (3), both at 9 a.m.

Consolation semifinals: Miller vs. Cook and Parment vs. Kashalkar, both at 9 a.m.


Championship and Consolation finals at 9 a.m.

Published in the Friday, June 19th edition