The lineup for the doubles finals in three divisions Saturday at the 75th annual Fairfield Town Tennis Tournament was going to leave one woman as a two-event winner, or two women as a champion in one division of the townwide competition that staged its singles finals two weeks earlier. The third scenario, which did not play out, would have left one lady as a finalist in two events but without either top prize.
As it turned out, Nancy Zylstra got a pair of trophies in the same day.
Ginny Greatsinger could not repeat her singles title from July 26 when she and her partner, Cady Kryspin, lost the women's open doubles final to Zylstra and Phoebe Kaylor on Aug. 9 at the Fairfield Indoor Tennis outdoor courts on Old Dam Road. A couple of hours later Zylstra earned her second championship when she and Scott Schutzman defeated Ed Mahony and Wendy Griffin for the mixed open doubles crown.
For the most part, the six teams playing to win their divisions had been doubles partners for years, with their teammate considered as a friend. Praise directed toward partner and opponents alike was the theme of the competition.
Greatsinger played sound tennis and partner Kryspin made her share of winners, too, but, on balance, Zylstra-Kaylor were steadier in defeating Greatsinger-Kryspin, the No. 1 seed, by 6-4, 6-3. Greatsinger-Kryspin won most of their games by breaking the serve of Zylstra-Kaylor but Greatsinger-Kryspin had an even more difficult time holding on to win their service games.
"I'm OK with it," Greatsinger, 51, said of not earning her second championship of the tournament, "as long as we have a good game. If you play a good match, it's OK not to win.
"They were more consistent, and we had a lot of unforced errors," said Greatsinger, who had teammed with Kryspin to win the 2013 women's open doubles title.
"We were playing from behind the entire match," said Kryspin, 56, a lifelong Fairfield resident. "We kept making gains but not quite enough to overcome them. We made some errors that were pivotal game-changers."
Kryspin and Greatsinger have been a doubles team for close to five years, they said.
"We're friends. We go out there to have fun, and if we win, it's even better," Greatsinger said.
Kryspin says they're a successful team because their styles complement each other, noting Greatsinger's ability at the net and hers at the baseline. "She has a great putaway, and I can keep the ball deep and in play," Kryspin said.
Zylstra-Kaylor won the first three games of the first set before Greatsinger-Kryspin rallied to take the next two games. They alternated winning the next four games, leaving it at 5-4 in favor of Zylstra-Kaylor, who broke serve in the last game to win the set 6-4.
The second set was tied at 2-2 before Zylstra-Kaylor won two straight for a 4-2 lead. Greatsinger-Kryspin made it 4-3 but lost the next two games, which gave the match to Zylstra-Kaylor.
Kaylor, 45, who has lived in Fairfield for nine years, pointed to perseverance and determination as the keys to victory. They have been friends for nine years and doubles partners for eight, said Zylstra, 50, a 19-year resident. This was their first time playing together in the Town Tournament.
Zylstra said their friendship is a chief reason for their success. "We have a great time out there, and we're both really fit and move well together," she said. " I think we were extremely steady and ran down every ball."
Zylstra-Kaylor had to a play semifinal in the morning, defeating Sue Hines and Marylou Ramery 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. That match took almost two-and-a-half hours to complete.
Following three consecutive losses in the finals, Patton-O'Dwyer won the men's open doubles championship in 2013. They repeated on Aug. 9 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Patton won last summer's men's open singles title. O'Dwyer had been a mainstay in the men's 45-and-older doubles competition -- not contested this year -- winning it last year with Steve O'Connell, this year's tournament chairman.
Patton, 35, and O'Dwyer, 54, have been partners for six years, forming soon after Patton moved into town. Excluding a four-year break in his 20s, O'Dwyer has been a lifelong Fairfield resident, having formerly served on the Representative Town Meeting and as the Town Tournament's chairman. Their opponents, Kane and Cobb, have been playing together for 10 years. Kane-Cobb won the men's 45-and-olders doubles championships in 2011 and 2012. Their familiarity with each other on the court has made them a formidable team. They've been close friends for close to 15 years, said Kane, 57, a lifelong Fairfield resident.
"They're very smart. You've got to play intelligent tennis to beat them," O'Dwyer said. "They will not give it to you. They make you hit winners; they make you earn it. They tried to drop shots and angle them. We didn't get into a big lobbing-and-overhead game (with them), which is their forte. And we had a good percentage of our first serves in."
"We didn't make that many mistakes," Patton said. "We didn't beat ourselves. We were pretty solid on Saturday."
Patton praised his partner's serving game. "Mike held serve (in) 4-for-4 (service games). His serve was really on," Patton said. O'Dwyer said of his partner that he appreciated having "fresh legs on the court."
Patton-O'Dwyer raced to a three-game-to-none lead in the first set before Kane-Cobb rallied to win the next two games. Patton-O'Dwyer responded by winning the next two games for a 5-2 lead. A Kane-Cobb victory in the eighth game was met with another win by Patton-O'Dwyer to close out the first set.
"They were the better team," said Cobb, 66, a resident of Fairfield since the late 1970s, and a tennis player since before age 10. "We had problems with Scott, obviously. He's a much younger player. What he bedeviled us with was that he's a lefty. He had a lot of spin on his serving."
"Scott really had a lot of pace on his shots. Scott was powerful," said Kane, who picked up the sport in the mid-1990s. "Being a lefty, his shots came at different angles and we were not accustomed to it."
"It took us a while to acclimate to that," Cobb said.
O'Dwyer, the tallest man on the court, was effective at the net, Kane said.
Each team won a semifinal on Saturday morning. Patton-O'Dwyer defeated Jeff Rosenberg-Eric Zadravec 6-0, 6-1; Kane-Cobb beat O'Connell-Jerry Musso 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Zylstra-Schutzman beat Mahony-Griffin by 6-2, 6-2 for the mixed championship. Zylstra left to attend a birthday party before returning for the late afternoon match against Mahony-Griffin. Griffin was the women's singles runner-up on July 26, losing to Greatsinger.
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