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IMG_5424BY JEFF FALK

MOUNT GRETNA – OK, so what’s the deal with the recent rash of first-time winners – actually singles’ players winning it on their first attempt – at the annual Mount Gretna Men’s Club tennis tournament.

On the surface, it might seem like an indictment of the quality of the tournament’s singles’ 39-contestant draw. But delve a bit deeper and it’s more likely a testament to the event’s ability to draw top-notch talent.

On Thursday night on the soft courts of the Mount Gretna Men’s Club, newcomer and number-three seeded Ryan Mellinger bested top-seeded and defending champion Mike Lesko, who also won last year’s title on his first attempt, to capture the 49th edition of the event. But it wasn’t easy, as Mellinger pulled away late for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the championship match.

IMG_5352In a back-and-forth battle between a pair of athletic hard-hitters, Mellinger laughed last, and thus laughed best. The 37-year-old former Millersville University star used a pair of key service breaks early in the third set to rip off five straight games and grab control of the match.

Later in the evening, Mellinger and partner Dave Wolfe absorbed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 loss to Colin Muriaka and Jack Muraika in the doubles’ championship bout.

“I played in this 15 years ago,” said Mellinger. “When I was playing at Millersville (University) I played in it. But I haven’t played in it since. It’s great. At my age, I feel it more in my legs. I’m not teaching tennis any more. I’m sitting at a desk all day. But it’s been really fun.

“The last couple of years it (playing in the tournament) wasn’t working out with vacations,” Mellinger continued. “It’s just been timing. But Dave Wolfe and (tournament director) Mike Rohrbach have been trying to get me to play. This year I made it work.”

IMG_5283“I was a bit more nervous because I won last year,” said Lesko, who downed Jack Muriaka in the 2015 final. “Last year was my first time playing in it, and it was like, ‘Let’s see what happens.’

“It (last year) was such a cool experience,” Lesko continued. “I knew a couple of people, but I pretty much came in as a complete unknown. But people know my game now.”

With Lesko up 1-0 and the momentum squarely in his corner, Mellinger turned up the intensity early in the third set. The resulting five-game winning streak put him in complete control of the outcome, and he closed out the match two games later, on serve.

“When I was down 1-0, I won the next two games in the third set, and they were key,” said Mellinger. “They were close games. I was grinding. At 3-1, I really felt like I was going to win. Momentum definitely swung. That was the first time I thought, ‘I got it’.

“I thought it was a good match. It was close,” added Mellinger. “Mike really came back. I felt like I got a little more pop, especially on my serve, in the third set. In the second set, he was hitting lines, and they were smoked.”

IMG_5369“I thought he just stepped it up a little bit,” said Lesko. “It was like, ‘I’m going to make every shot possible’. I got tight a little bit. I thought all the games were close, but he won all the key points.

“I felt I had plenty in the tank,” Lesko added. “But I cramped up more.”

It may have been Lesko who turned the tables on Mellinger a little bit in the second set, after Mellinger had used an early service break to grab a 2-1 edge. Lesko broke Mellinger on the latter’s last three service games to win the set 6-4.

IMG_5319“I was telling myself not to over hit,” said Mellinger. ” ‘Play my game, keep it deep and stay patient.’ But he was pushing me in the second set. I thought if I could play up to my ability, I could win. I played Mike before. We hit once a month or so. But I felt like I could win

“We both like passing shots and we both like banging from the baseline,” Mellinger continued. “Neither of us like to volley. You won’t see us come to the net unless it’s a true short shot. But a couple of his passing shots were ridiculous.”

“I think that was my best tennis of the match,” said Lesko of the second set. “I think that was my best tennis of the whole tournament. I had a good first-serve percentage and I was ripping shots.



“I felt like I played really well,” continued Lesko. “The first set was up and down. Neither of us was playing well. But overall I’m really happy with the way I played.”

Both players were on serve through the first five games of the opening set, until Mellinger broke Lesko to assume a 4-2 advantage. Mellinger held his next two service games to win the set 6-3.

“There’s two things I love about this tournament,” said Mellinger. “The venue. This is the nicest setting I’ve ever played in Pennsylvania. And the people. The most people I’ve ever played in front of before was like five, and there must have been a hundred people here tonight. I love playing in this tournament. It’s just a really well run tournament.

IMG_5258“I had a couple of people cheering for me,” Mellinger added. “Pumping me up a little bit. I tried to get the adrenaline going, because that’s all I had.”

“I’m pretty familiar with his game,” said Lesko of Mellinger. “We played a couple times this summer. I knew what I was going to get. I knew I had to execute my game.

IMG_5228“Oh yeah, I’m definitely happy,” added Lesko. “My minimum goal was to get the finals and take home a plate. Winning it would’ve been the cherry on top. I played well. He played well. No complaints.”

Mellinger had reached the championship match with a  6-2, 3-6, 6-2 semifinal triumph over number-two seed J. Muriaka. In his semifinal match, Lesko dispensed C. Muriaka 6-1, 6-0.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5325Mount Gretna Tennis Club Tournament

Past Singles’ Champions

2016 – Ryan Mellinger

2015- Mike Lesko

2014 – Dave Wolfe

2013 – Eric Weitzel

2012 – Eric Weitzel

2011 – Mike Rohrbach

2010 – Nick Bybel

2009 – Erik Vargo

IMG_53292008 – Chris Heilman

2007 – Erik Vargo

2006 – Erik Vargo

2005 – Chris Heilman

2004 – Mike Rohrbach

2003 – Mike Rohrbach

2002 – Mike Rohrbach

2001 – Mike Rohrbach

IMG_5395200o – Mike Rohrbach

1999 – Cancelled, drought

1998 – Dave Wolfe

1997 – Dave Wolfe

1996 – Andy Folmer

1995 – Matt Garman

1994 – Cliff Meyers

1993 – Andy Folmer

1992 – Tom Brink

1991 – Andy Folmer

IMG_53121990 – Tom Brink

1989 – Mark Moshos

1988 – Mark Moshos

1987 – Mark Moshos

1986 – Mark Moshos

1985 – Steve Hass

1984 – Steve Hass

1983 – Mark Moshos

1982 – Mark Moshos

1981 – Andy Folmer

IMG_52941980 – Cliff Loercher

1979 – Cliff Loercher

1978 – Cliff Meyers

1977 – Cliff Meyers

1976 – Cliff Meyers

1975 – Cliff Meyers

1974 – Cliff Meyers

1973 – Sam Miller

1972 – Sam Miller

1971 – Sam Miller

IMG_54191970 – Sam Miller

1969 – Sam Miller

1968 – Sam Miller

 Mount Gretna Tennis Club

 Past Doubles’ Champions

2016 – C. Muriaka-J. Muriaka

2015 – C. Muraika-G. McNaughton

2014 – A. Behney-T. Deimler

2013 – M. Rohrbach-R. Gallo

2012 – M. Rohrbach-R. Gallo

2011 – M. Rohrbach-R. Gallo

IMG_53282010 – M. Rohrbach-M. Zimmerman

2009 – M. Rohrbach-E. Vargo

2008 – C. Heilman-M. Bender

2007 – M. Rohrbach-E. Vargo

2006 – E. Vargo-N. Slachta

2005 – M. Rohrbach-P. Rader

2004 – M. Rohrbach-P. Rader

2003 – A. Folmer-J. Montgomery

2002 – M. Rohrbach-T. Bixler

2001 – M. Rohrbach-T. Bixler

IMG_52992000 – S. Miller-B. Hulme

1999 – Drought, cancelled

1998 – D. Wolfe-M. Garman

1997 – M. Garman-E. Provencio

1996 – M. Garman-E. Provencio

1995 – S. Miller-B. Hulme

1994 – S. Miller-B. Hulme

1993 – C. Meyers-A. Folmer

1992 – T. Brink-E. Weaver

1991 – T. Brink-E. Weaver

IMG_52471990 – T. Brink-E. Weaver

1989 – C. Meyers-A. Folmer

1988 – T. Brink-E. Weaver

1987 – S. Hass-M. Moshos

1986 – S. Hass-M. Moshos

1985 – S. Hass-M. Moshos

1984 – C. Meyers-A. Folmer

1983 – S. Hass-M. Moshos

1982 – C. Meyers-A. Folmer

1981 – D. Royer-M. Moshos

IMG_53751980 – R. Early-M. Moshos

1979 – D. Royer-B. Loercher

1978 – C. Meyers-L. Kreider

1977 – D. Royer-B. Loercher

1976 – D. Royer-J. Davis

1975 – S. Miller-L. Kreider

1974 – S. Miller-L. Kreider

1973 – S. Miller-B. Berman

1972 – S. Miller-B. Loercher

1971 – S. Miller-B. Loercher

IMG_53011970 – S. Miller-B. Loercher

1969 – S. Miller-B. Loercher

1968 – S. Miller-B. Loercher

 

 

 

 

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