28th year for Junior Tournament

Published in the August 29, 2018 edition

WAKEFIELD — Fifteen players competed in many impressive and enthusiastic tennis matches this past weekend at the beautiful Dobbins Courts. Blue skies and bright sunshine provided the backdrop for the 28th annual event, with champions crowned in four age brackets.

Boys 14 and Under

The top semifinal match in the Boys 14 and under group saw tournament veteran and last year’s 14 and Under Champion, Ben Palmer, overpower tournament rookie John Fitzgerald 6-0, 6-0. Despite the one-sided result, this match featured plenty of good tennis. Fitzgerald had some success in slowing Palmer’s power game with some well-placed drop shots, but Palmer’s stronger game carried the day.

TROPHIES for the High School Boys division were presented at the Geoffrey Walter Jr. Tennis Tournament. From left to right are Tournament Director Rich Walter, HS Boys Finalist Jack Palmer, HS Boys Champion Lucas Smith and Tournament Director Jennifer Walter. (Courtesy Photo)

In the second semifinal match, Johnny Whitson fell to Justin Carino in a three-set marathon with a score of 6-4,5-7,6-3. Carino took the first set and was cruising at 5-1, relying on a strong two-handed backhand, before Johnny Whitson (who has a history of long matches in this tournament) fought back. Whitson’s strategy of coming to the net paid off as he won six straight games to take the second set 7-5 and force a third set. Carino regrouped with a 6-3 third set to move on to the finals. The epic match lasted over three hours. The players started in the cool shade at 8:30 a.m. and finished in the hot noon-time sun. Carino and Whitson proved to be equally matched as almost every game went to deuce. Each player showed great court coverage; the tournament’s computer system estimated that each player covered approximately three miles during the match.

In the Sunday morning final, Ben Palmer was awake and alert and proved too much for Carino earning his 2nd consecutive tournament championship with a 6-2, 6-1 win. Palmer went undefeated in the U14 division these past two years and will move up into the strong HS division next year. Carino, who was last year’s runner up in the 12 and Under division played a strong match and made Palmer earn each point.

Consolation Round Action

In the consolation match, Johnny (“it’s a great day for tennis, let’s play two”) Whitson took a 10-minute break after the marathon match with Carino and moved on to face the scrappy John Fitzgerald. Whitson prevailed in the consolation match 8-1 in a pro-set.

Girls Open

TROPHIES for the Girls Open division were presented at the Geoffrey Walter Jr. Tennis Tournament. From left to right are Tournament Director Rich Walter, Girls Open Champion Olivia Goff, Girls Open Finalist Julia Carino and Tournament Director Jennifer Walter. (Courtesy Photo)

For the second year in a row, the Girls side of the tournament had five players who competed in one Open bracket. The play-in match to the top semifinal featured two tournament rookies: Toni Marie Whitson and Juliet Semmes. Whitson used her strong forehands and backhands as well as few well-placed overhand “fireballs” (as described by Semmes) against the lefty. Semmes countered with a good serve and timely lobs. In the end, Whitson’s athleticism proved to be the difference in her 6-4, 6-0 win.

Whitson’s organized game then ran up against the Olivia Goff buzz saw. Goff’s strong game has been improving each year and she was able to overpower Whitson 6-1, 6-1.

In the bottom half of the draw, Julia Carino took on tournament rookie Amelia Semmes. Despite a valiant effort by Semmes, Carino (who plays on the HS tennis team) cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 victory and a trip to the finals.

In the Saturday afternoon finals match, Goff who was a finalist in last year’s Open bracket, proved too strong for Carino and took a 6-1, 6-0 win. Goff can boast an impressive tournament record: during the past six years, she has been a three-time champion and three-time finalist.

Boys High School

The HS Boys bracket featured three tournament veterans. Cross country teammates Lucas Smith and Ian Schermerhorn faced off in the lone semifinal match after their morning running workout with Smith prevailing 6-1, 6-1.

Smith moved on to the Championship match against Jack Palmer, who had received a bye in the semifinals. Smith and Palmer, who are doubles partners on the HS team, treated the tournament spectators to a high-level tennis match with strong serves and shot-making from both sides. Smith was able to take advantage of a string of unforced errors by Palmer to take his first tournament championship 6-1, 6-0.

Sportsmanship Award

Each year the Geoffrey Walter Tournament is proud to have a field filled with excellent competitors and many examples of sportsmanship. The tournament committee was proud to award Julia Carino the Sportsmanship trophy this year. Julia plays on the WMHS Tennis team. This is her first year in the tournament and she impressed the tournament committee with her great attitude, composure and fair play.

Net Notes 

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, Janet and Joe DeGuglielmo for their popular contribution of slush, a welcome refreshment for the players over the weekend, and Jane O’Neil and the Smith family for supplying the granola bars for the players. 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 as well as delicious pizzelles and banana mini-muffins to the rave reviews of the Sunday morning crowd.

There was again a terrific turnout of many members of the Wakefield tennis community supporting this tournament including local tennis legend Pat Zagaria.

In this year’s Sunday morning “Callahan Division”, Lauren Calabrese bested Sophia Callahan 6-0, 6-1, and ‘Callahan for a day’ Toni Marie Whitson took the victory over Audrey Callahan (score not available).

Former Tournament Champions Nicole Wu and Mike Tagliaferro stopped by to cheer on the players.

Tournament Director Bill Conley, who has had perfect attendance the past 28 years, was very much missed at this year’s event. The courts weren’t the same without the resource of Conley’s calm to assist and guide the players with any scoring questions.

A new update to this year’s event was the awarding of tournament water bottles in lieu of trophies to the winners and finalists in each division.

Sincere thanks are extended to the many families who have supported the event since it began and those who have been a part of the last 16 years, creating a terrific weekend of tennis honoring Geoffrey Walter’s memory.