ASHLAND — Last year, rain washed out the opening day of the Times-Gazette Tennis Open and wiped out the final match of the weekend.
But this year’s Open was played in near perfect weather conditions as several champions were crowned in the adult events on Saturday and Sunday.
Tournament director Taylor Long had no hesitation when talking about what makes this weekend so special.
“It is the players,” he said. “I’m sure every town has its own invite and own little tournament, but when we can get players from Lexington and Wooster and Cleveland to Columbus and Norwalk, we literally have kids from all over.
“And for the people who come back, they become almost like a family and get reunited every summer when they see each other. It’s both awesome and stressful. It’s a lot to take in, but we absolutely love every minute of it.”
Mike Cremer and Justin Crooks won the men’s doubles championship with a 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 nail-biting victory over Ryan Mecurio and Karl Etzel Saturday at Brookside Park's tennis courts.
“A couple of years ago, I became friends with Justin, and with him being from over here in Ashland, he brought me over to play,” Cremer said about how he became involved with the Open. “He asked if I wanted to play doubles with him, and I said, ‘Sure. Let’s do this.’ He is a great player, and I love playing with him. We played singles and doubles last year, where we made it to the finals in both, and the same for this year. We both have made it to the finals again in those divisions.
“It is great competition. The people who come play here are really good. Even talking to some of the people who come here to watch some of the matches, they talk about how these matches are real exciting.”
After winning the doubles title, Crooks and Cremer squared off for the singles championship Sunday in Wooster. After dropping the first set 6-0, Crooks took the next two 6-3, 7-2 to win the title.
Crooks, a 2000 Ashland High graduate, said coming back every year is like a homecoming.
“This is like a small reunion,” said Crooks, who is the tennis coach at Wooster High. “It’s a reunion of tennis players, for sure. Kids I coached are now running the tournament and the high school relationships that I have from being a coach.
“There are a lot of former players and current players and coaches with tennis talent here, so the competition is tough. It doesn’t matter if you are playing singles or doubles, if you win, you keep playing the same day. This weekend is kind of like a war of attrition trying to get through some of the matches. But even then, I’d rather be doing this than chores at my house.”
The mixed doubles round robin competition didn’t finish. In the matches that were completed, Simone Haynes and Isaac Haynes defeated Long and Morgan Kauffman, and Harry Love and Alli Vogus downed the Haynes siblings.
Vogus won the women’s singles championship, which was also a round robin format.
Long made special mention of those who helped organize the weekend.
“Scott Frazee has helped me for I don’t know how many years,” he said. “He just volunteers his time and said he would come back and help me again this year. He helps with draws and helps run the desk as well.
“Morgan Kaufman not only played in the tournament, but she also sat at the desk and helped run the weekend. She was here both days even though she didn’t have to. And with all the people that donate water and food, this tournament is truly kind of a community thing. All these people helping out make this weekend really cool.”
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Top-notch competition fuels Times-Gazette Tennis Open