United vs Brewers

Brewers Defeat United in Closely Contested Match

Brewers Mixed Doubles Narrowly Beat United

The Eastern Split has seen all kinds of great pickleball. This one between United’s Matt Kawamoto and Hannah Blatt and the Brewers Mark Cleminson and Christina Chin was great overall. Chin and Cleminson just had that little extra and didn’t make as many unforced errors in a tight 15-13 triumph.

The Brewers opened the scoring with a mini flurry, highlighted by a tricky Cleminson set-up on United and then some cohesive dinking between Chin and Cleminson to go up 3-0. Chin, though, followed up with two straight returns into the net to allow United back in. The teams swapped points as United showed great dinking ability, until Cleminson blasted an overhand bomb to put the Brewers up 6-4, followed by a scintillating Kawamoto forehand to make it 6-5. The Brewers took an 8-6 lead into side change, thanks to a Chin “Ernie” that hit Blatt and seeing eye Cleminson lob.

The second half followed the same furious back-and-forth pattern, as Cleminson continued to show his considerable paddle skills, and combining with Chin to keep the Brewers ahead, by slim margins mind you. Blatt and Kawamoto, even though they were down much of this tilt, showed great patience and made great shots of their own, including a Blatt forehand winner and a Kawamoto backhand screamer that made the score 12-11 Brewers. A few points later, the teams were tied 13-13, but the Brewers won on serve after a tremendous dinking rally.

Brewers Clip United in Second Mixed Doubles Tilt

In a near carbon copy of the first mixed doubles game, the Brewers duo of Jeff Elwood and Susan Pound narrowly escaped with a 15-13 victory over United’s Daniel Gottfried and Martina Wynia. The one difference in this entertaining game was that United got off to a fast starting, building a 3-1 lead with Wynia smacking Pound with an “Ernie” and then she and Gottfried dinking their way to another point.

The Brewers tied it up on United unforced errors, but immediately gave those points back, until Pound hit a screamer that eluded United to make the score 5-4. From there, the Brewers played well enough to send the teams to side change with the Brewers up again, 8-6.

The second stanza saw both teams trade points on several unforced errors, however United’s Wynia did play a superb set-up for a point and Gottfried “Ernied” Elwood for another to get the teams to a 10-10 tie. This enigmatic contest saw some great dinking and shot making, but the unforced errors really reared their ugly head when Pound hit net on serve to make the score 12-12. United took a 13-12 lead on another net return by the Brewers, but couldn’t counter Pound and especially Elwood, who smoked forehand and overhand winners to give the Brewers a hard-earned win and a stranglehold on the match.

United Women Give Team a Chance with Tight Defeat of Brewers

Another game, another 15-13 result. But, this time, the script wasn’t quite the same, with the United team of Martina Wynia and Hannah Blatt literally escaping with a win over the Brewers Christina Chin and Susan Pound.

Needing a win to keep their team in contention in the match, Wynia and Blatt got off to a superb start, dinking well and having the good fortune of seeing too many Pound returns find the Selkirk net or go long to go ahead 5-0. It was quite uncharacteristic of the hard-hitting Pound, but the game was far from over. The Brewers did manage to score three but went into side change down 8-3 to a United team determined not to let a lead slip away.

The break didn’t make much of a difference, as United extended the lead to 12-4 on some Brewers miscommunication and another net return by Pound. United was in the driver’s seat – but the Brewers bus was about to get in their lane. Pound found her stroke again and combined with Chin on great defense-to-offense transition to score five straight points, forcing a United timeout at 12-9.

Undaunted, United built the lead back up to four and a 14-10 freeze, with the Brewers looking all but defeated. But, in true fashion, Pound hit a big forehand winner, followed by another great offensive charge and a Chin overhand smash to make it 14-13. Fittingly, though, United stayed alive in the match when Pound hit the net on return for United game point.

Brewers Men Hold Off Late Charge by United to Secure Match

As this four-game match went, this game between the Brewers pair of Mark Cleminson and Jeff Elwood and United’s Matt Kawamoto and Daniel Gottfried was just as tight and exciting. Cleminson and Elwood got the upper hand early, despite a long serve that tied the game at 2-2.

The Brewers were then the fortunate recipient of easy points when Kawamoto and Gottfried hit errant returns to hand the Brewers a 7-3 lead. United took a timeout, only to be on the wrong end of a Cleminson flick to send the two squads to side change and the Brewers leading 8-3.

The second half opened with United dinking well and Kawamoto slamming a forehand winner. Elwood, however, announced his presence with a big “Ernie” that hit Gottfried square. That seemed to ignite United, who began to chip away at the lead with outstanding defense and dinking, and the Brewers leaving returns short or side out to get the score to 9-8 Brewers.

Momentum shifted, again, with the Brewers rallying to go up 11-9, but United wouldn’t back down dinking and displaying great defensive awareness to knot proceedings at 11-11. Alas, a complete United comeback was not to be. The Brewers put a fine finishing touch on this match win, rallying and transitioning from defense to offense and hitting a couple blazing returns to win it, including Elwood’s final forehand flick that eluded both Kawamoto and Gottfried.


Lions vs Smash

East Toronto Smash Roll Over Montreal Lions in Four

Smash Mixed Doubles Flatten Lions in First Game

In terms of overall effort, the East Toronto Smash mixed doubles team of Dalbir Bhandal and Jordann Vigna didn’t break much of a sweat beating Montreal Lions Eric Gagnon and Kim Layton. The Smash quickly built a healthy lead and eventually won 15-6.

Now, the Lions did come out with some vigor, taking a 2-1 lead, but that would be as close as they got. Bhandal was spectacular before side change, cranking two forehand winners, while Vigna played her part, setting up Layton to hit it into the net for an 8-3 Smash advantage. Notably, Gagnon displayed great sportsmanship, calling himself for a tick off his paddle on Bhandal’s first big shot, giving the Smash a 4-2 lead.

Vigna augmented the Smash attack in the second half, with a seriously good shot outside the net and down the line to put East Toronto up 10-3. Vigna and Bhandal rallied well when they were up 12-4, dinking in sync to score a key point, followed two points later when Bhandal ripped one to get to a 14-5 freeze. Vigna closed it out a couple of plays later, driving a great forehand that neither Gagnon nor Layton could return.

Smash Build Early Lead En Route to Key Victory in Second Mixed Doubles Game

Again, the East Toronto Smash came out swinging, using a mix of great offensive/defensive pickleball to down the Montreal Lions. The Smash’s Chris Alain and Leigh Bradwell fed off each other, scoring early and often to overwhelm the Lions Cam Rich and Grace Thomas in a 15-11 triumph.

The two squads traded short rallies early, with the Smash taking a 5-3 lead before kicking it into high gear. Alain and Bradwell dinked their way to another point and then rallied using gutsy defense to go up 7-3. Rich and Thomas battled too, scoring an answering point with staunch defense before Bradwell blasted a superb backhand to give the Smash an 8-4 advantage at side change.

After a rest, the two teams alternated hitting the Dura ball into the Selkirk net or side out, before Alain crushed a big forehand for a 12-8 smash lead. Rich displayed a massive overhand for another Lions point, before Alain again blasted a forehand winner during a great rally featuring dogged defense by the Lions Thomas. The Smash forced a Lions timeout at 14-9 freeze and then rallied after two Lions points to win it when Thomas sent a return long.

Lions Women Rally to Big Comeback Win over Smash

At the outset, things again favored the Smash, who took a quick 4-1 lead and looked headed to a match-clinching victory. But the Lions Kim Layton and Grace Thomas had other ideas, rallying and battling to a hard-fought 15-12 win to keep the Lions alive in the match.

Smash pair Leigh Bradwell and Jordann Vigna swiftly scored points, with Vigna dropping a beauty of shot for a point and the two then dinking their way to a 4-1 advantage. Layton and Thomas regrouped, then, putting the Smash on their heels with offensive acumen, knotting the score at 5-5. The teams traded a few points and at side change the Smash lead 8-7.

The break over, Layton and Thomas then went to work, with Thomas smoking a forehand to knot the score 9-9. The Smash’s Bradwell put her shot making prowess on display too, ripping a forehand to tie it 10-10 after going side out previously. Thomas and Layton answered well, with Thomas collecting two points on outstanding shots and Layton one of her own to lead 13-11.

Layton then drove another shot that eluded the Lions, forcing a time out at freeze. The Smash answered with a point during a great rally to extend proceedings, before Layton drilled a great forehand to win it and keep the Lions’ hopes alive.

Smash Men Complete Match Triumph with Tight Decision over Lions

Try as they might, the duo of Eric Gagnon and Cam Rich just didn’t have enough in the tank to extend this match over the Smash’s Dalbir Bhandal and Chris Alain. In dire need of a victory, Gagnon and Rich took a short-lived lead off the start, only to see Bhandal make an acrobatic lunge and great shot to put the Smash ahead 3-2.

The Smash wouldn’t lose that edge, feeding off each other to take an 8-6 lead into side change. Rich and Gagnon did their level best to keep the Smash in check in the first half, with the former pounding two forehands for scores and Gagnon chipping in another on a good get. However, Alain and Bhandal displayed great patience, the highlight being the beauty of a set-up by Bhandal that Alain took advantage of to make the score 5-3 at that point.

The second half started with a great Gagnon flick that caught Alain in a bad position, tying it at 8-8. Alain paid the Lions back, though, with a laser down the line and then another massive shot to put the Smash ahead for good. Rich got in another tricky flick to keep things tight at 12-10 Smash but found net after to go down 13-10. The Lions did make things interesting, getting as close as 13-12 when Bhandal and Alain hit net and went side out, but Gagnon dinked a return into the net to push the score to 14-12 and then take a needed time out. The two teams came out firing, with Alain winning it on a shocker of a drop shot for the win.


Lions vs Rollers

Montreal Lions Slip Past Northern Rollers in Five

Lions Stage Monumental Comeback in Mixed Doubles

You could say that the Dura ball was not quite the Northern Rollers’ friend in this mixed doubles opener. The duo of Rob Krizmanich and Jessica Kawamoto held an early 8-5 lead and then proceeded to either hit the Selkirk net or send it long to allow Cam Rich and Kim Layton of the Montreal Lions to win, convincingly, 15-9.

Krizmanich and Kawamoto were mostly in sync before side change, combining some good dinking along with a great lay-in shot and a laser that hit Layton off Krizmanich’s paddle. Before the break, it was Rich and Layton who weren’t gelling, but that wouldn’t last.

Immediately after side change, the 8-5 Lions’ deficit turned into a 9-8 lead, courtesy of three long returns and a net shot by Krizmanich and Kawamoto. The Lions then returned one into the net and from there it was all Montreal. The Lions forced many a shot by the Rollers to go into the net or side out, with Layton displaying great patience, not hitting what would be a long shot by Krizmanich to seal a point and go to freeze up 14-9. Krizmanich then knocked another one into the net to give the Lions a huge win.

Rollers Even Up Match with Overwhelming Victory

This time, there was no epic collapse by a Rollers Mixed Doubles team. Jonas Dahler and Emma Li jumped out to an early lead and never took their foot off the gas in a 15-7 drubbing of Montreal Lions pair Eric Gagnon and Grace Thomas.

Dahler set the tone, smoking an overhand winner that gave the Rollers a lead in a game they never trailed. As if to frustrate Gagnon and Thomas even further, Dahler got one to dribble over off the net cord for a 4-2 advantage after an extended rally. He and Li then played outstanding defense and dinked well enough to set up a great forehand winner by Li and another overhand bomb by Dahler to take an 8-3 lead into side change.

Gagnon and Thomas managed to trim the lead to 9-6 after a rest, with Thomas hitting a nice overhand for a point and Gagnon adding a laser of his own. But whatever ideas they had at a comeback, were quickly squashed by the Rollers. They kept the pressure on the Lions to go up 12-6 and force a timeout and quickly dispatched them four plays later.

Lions Women Come Back to Beat Rollers

With two lopsided victories for either team in the books, the Lions and Rollers hammered away at each other in a very hard-fought game with many great rallies that eventually went to Montreal, 15-13.

Emma Li and Jessica Kawamoto of the Rollers utilized superior defense and shot making early on to take a 4-2 lead. However, that evaporated quickly as the Lions duo of Kim Layton and Grace Thomas also played outstanding defensively and hit key shots to tie it up 5-5. The teams then traded points until side change, which favored Montreal 8-7.


The Rollers pushed the score to 9-9 and then went to work on the Lions, scoring three straight points on two Kawamoto smashes and a Li overhand winner to take a commanding 12-9 lead. Unfazed, Layton and Thomas answered with great shots of their own to get within one, but Li followed with a backhand sizzler that eluded the Lions for a point. The Rollers were then forced to take a timeout when the Lions roared all the way back to tie it 13-13, courtesy of a great shot by Thomas.

The timeout actually favored the Lions, who forced a long and a net shot by the Rollers to emerge victorious.

Rollers Men Take Match to Tiebreaker with Clutch Win Over Lions

Still looking for their first match victory of the tournament, the Rollers needed a solid effort from men’s doubles duo Rob Krizmanich and Jonas Dahler. And they delivered. Krizmanich and Dahler built an early advantage and were never tied or behind against Eric Gagnon and Cam Rich.

Krizmanich put the Rollers in the driver’s seat early, exuding hustle and sending an amazing return shot down the line for a 2-0 lead. Not long after, Dahler played staunch defense and helped put the Rollers up 4-2. The closest the Lions could get was within one, at 5-4 Rollers, but Krizmanich with a monster counter shot for a point and Dahler with a beautiful seeing eye shot of his own gave the Roller an 8-4 lead at side change.

The rest didn’t do much good for the Lions, who were put back on their heels by Krizmanich and Dahler, who again teamed up for a big return to make the score 10-6. A kitchen violation by Rich bumped the score to 11-6 and in no time the Rollers were leading 14-7. To their credit, Rich and Gagnon didn’t back down, keeping the freeze alive long enough to get the score to 14-11, with Gagnon striking a big blow in that sequence. However, the Rollers staged a furious rally to finally win it.

Lions Make Quick Work of Rollers in Singles Tiebreaker to Take Match

After a match that saw a lot of lead changes and flip-flopping victories, it didn’t take long for the Lions to down the Rollers 11-4 in the singles tiebreaker. And it was “Richly” deserved.

Montreal’s Cam Rich figured huge in this one, scoring a possible five of six points against Jonas Dahler. He opened it up with a 3-0 count in the first mini game with Dahler, smoking a big forehand for the second point. Rob Krizmanich managed to get his team a bit closer in the following stanza, which featured a bit of controversy on a line call that went against the Rollers, who were down 4-2 then instead of being tied 3-3.

Grace Thomas then took two out of three from Emma Li and Kim Layton swept a game Jessica Kawamoto, setting up Rich to finish off the Rollers with the score 9-3. He did just that, forcing Dahler to return the Dura ball low into the Selkirk net for the game and the match.



Brewers vs Pronghorns

Prairie Pronghorns Nip Southwestern Ontario Brewers in Hard-Fought Five-Game Battle

Pronghorns Women Get Match Off to Hot Start in Win over Brewers

Pam Clarke may be one of the elder statespersons in the CNPL at 51 and she wears a knee brace, but she showed in this match she is a force to be reckoned with. Drafted 25th overall, Clarke made several deft shots as she and Pronghorns partner Kim Brent downed the Brewers Christina Chin and Susan Pound 15-11.

The two women’s doubles team went back and forth for the first half, with hard-hitting Brewer Pound getting the Brewers up 2-1 early with a great forehand smash. Clarke then put her first stamp on the game, capably setting up the Brewers to return one into the net to tie it up. Pound made another of her signature forehand bombs for a point to knot things up at 4-4 and after a few short rallies the Pronghorns went into side change ahead 8-7.

Clarke got things rolling in the second half, sending a beauty between Chin and Pound for a two-point advantage, followed by some great dinking and offensive shifts by her and Brent. Intermixed in there were two Clarke forehands that the Brewers couldn’t return to move the score to 12-8 Pronghorns, forcing a Brewers timeout.

The Brewers scored a quick point on a long Pronghorns return, however, Clarke and Brent were too much to handle as they transitioned from offense to defense and back, seamlessly. The Pronghorns won the match when the Brewers Chin sent one long.

Brewers Stifle Late Rally to Beat Pronghorns in Men’s Doubles

This pivotal tilt had some interesting momentum swings, for sure. In the end, though, the Brewers men’s pair of Mark Cleminson and Jeff Elwood held off a determined comeback by the Pronghorns Matty Stodola and Ravi Prakash to win 15-10 and tie the match.

It was the Pronghorns who jumped out to an early lead, featuring a Prakash backhand that neither Cleminson or Elwood could get a paddle on, making the score 3-1 and a long shot by the Brewers after putting it to 4-1. But, Cleminson and Elwood chipped away at the Brewers’ armor, combining great offense, and dinking to go up 6-4 and force a Pronghorns timeout. After the break, the Pronghorns were refreshed enough to play furious offense and trim the lead, but Cleminson got the upper hand for the Brewers, firing two overhand heaters to put his team ahead 8-5 at side change.

After side change, the Brewers cranked up the offensive heat on the Pronghorns, as Elwood and Cleminson asserted their dominance with effective set-ups, dinking and offense to take a commanding 14-6 lead. Of note, Ravi Prakash nearly made a huge “ATP” shot down the line for a Pronghorns’ point, but it was just a smidge wide.

Not ready to give up yet, the Pronghorns went on the offensive at the freeze, forcing Elwood and Cleminson to take a timeout at 14-7 and then hit a trio of short returns into the net to make things very interesting at 14-10. But the Brewers played outstanding D on Pronghorns serve and then won it on serve when Prakash returned it side out.

Brewers Suppress Another Late Pronghorns Rally in Mixed Doubles Victory

Another game, another nail-biter between the Brewers and Pronghorns. While it was a little different that the Men’s doubles match beforehand, the Brewers pair of Mark Cleminson and Christina Chin had to use every weapon in their arsenal to eventually defeat Pronghorns Matty Stodola and Kim Brent, by a count of 15-12.

Cleminson was on fire right away, slamming three great shots to put the Brewers ahead 4-1 and force a Pronghorns timeout. Initially, the rest did the Pronghorns good, as Stodola pasted an overhand to trim the lead to 4-2. Chin, though, made that point irrelevant, when she hit Brent with an “Ernie” to get the cushion back to three and then two points later hit a beautiful crossing shot to put the Brewers up 7-3. An offensive burst by the Brewers sent the teams into side change with the score 8-3.

As in the game before, the Pronghorns came to life after side change, especially Brent, who smacked two great winners and rallied well with Stodola to get the Pronghorns to within three at 11-8. The Brewers Cleminson then complemented his partner, Chin, by contributing to forehand blasts to get the score to a 14-9 freeze in the Brewers’ favor.

Try as they might, however, the Brewers had much trouble closing out a determined Pronghorns counter-offensive. Brent was on fire and she and Stodola forced a few Brewers shots to go side out or long, trimming the lead to 14-12 and putting doubt in the Brewers’ minds. The freeze held for two more plays, until Chin hit another outstanding lob, followed by a Cleminson forehand that finally won it.

Pronghorns Force Tiebreaker in Tight Mixed Doubles Triumph

The Pronghorns flipped the switch on the Brewers in this entertaining tilt, getting out to an early lead and hanging on in the end for a 15-14 win and forcing a match tiebreaker. Ravi Prakash and Pam Clarke went shot-for-shot with the Brewers Susan Pound and Jeff Elwood, with a little drama along the way. After Prakash gave the Pronghorns a 3-1 lead with a forehand smash, he then plunked Elwood with an overhand “Ernie” that he would apologize for.

Two plays later, Elwood added to the drama, kicking the Dura ball after he whiffed on a return. That seemed to ignite the Brewers, who wanted to close this match out, with Pound setting up the Pronghorns for a net return and yet again on next point to force a Pronghorns time out. It seemed to do them good, as they scored three of the next four to go into side change ahead 8-6.

The Brewers quickly forged ahead after, going up 9-8 after a series of unforced Pronghorns errors. However, Pound hit the Selkirk net twice in a row to allow the Pronghorns to go ahead by one. The Pronghorns gave it right back, allowing the Brewers to forge a 12-10 lead, only to see the two teams knotted at 12-12 after a couple Brewers’ errors.

And so it went, back and forth, until the two teams found themselves at a 14-14 freeze. With everything on the line, the Pronghorns Clarke showed some of the verve she showed in the women’s game, firing a forehand winner to send this great match to a singles tiebreaker.

Brewers Finish Off Match Victory with Electric Win in Tiebreaker

Having allowed the Pronghorns to force a tiebreaker, the Brewers needed all they had to win this game and the match. And they were sharp from the get-go, with Jeff Elwood staking them to a 3-0 lead, smacking a great forehand for the second point and forcing the Pronghorns Matty Stodola to go side out.

Mark Cleminson grabbed two of three points from the Pronghorns Ravi Prakash, courtesy of two long Prakash shots on return. Christina Chin kept up the Brewers’ dominance, winning two of three from Pronghorns’ Kim Brent, including a massive overhand shot to have the Brewers go into the next mini-game up 7-2. The Pronghorns Pam Clarke stopped the bleeding briefly, scoring two straight points against Susan Pound, but Pound restored the lead to 8-4 with an amazing crossing shot.

Elwood and Stodola went head-to-head again and the latter gained a measure of revenge from their first mini game, finishing off two great plays to put the score at 9-6 Brewers. Cleminson would close out the Pronghorns, scoring on a backhand to go up 10-6 on Prakash and then sending a wicked cross to win the match.


Smash vs Rush

Rocky Mountain Rush Win Tight Match Against East Toronto Smash

Rush Women Outlast Smash in Thriller

This first game between the Rush’s Casey Rodgers and Alex Walker and the East Toronto Smash’s Jordann Vigna and Leigh Bradwell set the tone for the entire see-saw match between these two squads.

Rodgers and Walker let a four-point cushion (13-9) slip away late but were able to withstand the charge by the Smash to win on double freeze 15-14.

From first serve, both teams displayed incredible dinking and defensive skills, with the Smash taking an early 3-0 lead, including a great return by Bradwell that eluded the Rush. The Smash opened the lead back up to 5-2 after the Rush rallied well, and after some electrifying dinking rallies and great defense the Rush took an 8-6 cushion into side change.

The Rush kept the pressure squarely on the Smash after the break and were up 13-9 when Walker unloaded an overhand winner. However, Vigna would answer with a great forehand and the Smash would play great defense to cut the lead to 13-11.

After a Smash return found net to allow the Rush to go up 14-11, Bradwell and Vigna played staunch defense and returned a couple of excellent shots to get to double freeze at 14-14. The rally fell short, though, when the Smash put one into the net, giving the Rush a well-earned victory.

Smash Top Rush in Another Double-Freeze Tilt

Needing a victory to get all square after a great women’s game, the Smash duo of Dalbir Bhandal and Chris Alain flipped the script and just squeaked by the Rush’s Brett Forsythe and Sunny Buttar, 15-14.

Once again, the Smash leapt out to an early lead, courtesy of some fine dinking play and blazing returns by Alain, who smoked Forsythe to give the Smash a 5-3 lead. The teams exchanged a few points, with a notable “hot dog” return by a Bandal during one skirmish. The Smash kept up the early mojo, taking an 8-5 lead into side change.

The second stanza saw limited action to start out, but with the Rush leading 10-6, Forsythe returned the favor on Alain from an earlier tag, plunking the Smash player with a forehand bomb. Before long, the Smash extended the advantage to 14-11, however, the Rush weren’t quite done yet.

Bandal and Alain battled hard, keeping the Rush at bay as then dinked and smashed their way to double freeze. The two squads then couldn’t win on serve for six consecutive rallies, until the Smash forced the Rush to return one into the Selkirk net for another hard-earned triumph.

Rush Storm Back to Clip Smash in Mixed Doubles Contest

Another game, another double freeze opportunity. And in this one, unlike the previous men’s match, the Rush mixed doubles team of Brett Forsythe and Alex Walker did not fail to capitalize on a late comeback and a win at double freeze.

The Smash’s Chris Alain and Jordann Vigna were quite game in this contest, and with some astute shots and great defense, were able to tie it up at 4-4 when Alain – again opposing Forsythe – ripped a forehand his opponent couldn’t handle. The Smash later took an 8-7 advantage into side change, again after Alain smashed a forehand winner.

The second half began with some controversy, with Forsythe questioning whether another great Alain return wasn’t in fact long, making the score 10-8 Smash. Vigna then crushed a Dura ball to give the Smash an 11-8 lead, but then neither the two Smash could counter a Forsythe and Walker onslaught, who flipped the score to 13-12. Again, however, the controversy bug bit the Rush, who again questioned an Alain return for a point to knot things up.

The Rush took a timeout, dinked their way to a 14-13 lead and then were reeled in for another double-freeze nailbiter. This double freeze didn’t last too long, with Alain sending one that – to Forsythe’s delight — was counted long to give the Rush the triumph.

Rush Slip by Smash to Take the Match

As it should have been, the second mixed doubles match went to an exciting double freeze. And, like the previous mixed doubles tilt between the Smash and Rush, the Rush pair of Sunny Buttar and Casey Rodgers won it over Dalbir Bhandal and Leigh Bradwell, garnering the match victory too.

Knowing they needed a big win to go to singles tiebreaker, Bandal and Bradwell got it going quickly, both firing great returns to go up 2-0. Unfazed, Buttar and Rodgers fought back to go ahead briefly, thanks to some brilliant dinking. Dalbir, for his part, kept the Smash in it, hitting some vicious returns to put him and Bradwell into an 8-7 lead at side change.

At the start of the second half, Buttar evened things up with a wicked flick that hit Bradwell to tie it. The Rush then rolled to a 13-11 lead and looking for all intents and purposes to have a lock on the game and the match. But wait, after Rodgers found net on a return, Bradwell made her presence felt with a scorcher to tie it.

Two points later, the teams took this fourth and crucial game to a double freeze. This time, it took four separate serve breaks, until Buttar and Rodgers dinked their way to having Bradwell hit one out to send the Rush to victory.


United vs Wolverines

West Coast Wolverines Rally to Win Four-Game Match over United

United Get Off to Hot Start in Mixed Doubles

Haddow Thul and Vicky Strandlund of the West Coast Wolverines are a formidable pair in mixed doubles. That is, until they ran into the train that was Toronto United’s Matt Kawamoto. The 5’5” dynamo, drafted 20th overall by United, was all over the Pickleroll floor, sending all manner of outstanding shots at the Wolverines as United rolled to a 15-7 triumph.

Kawamoto, who was aided and abetted by a great player in Hannah Blatt, blasted five shots for winners before side break, including forehands, overhands, and backhand flicks. Blatt was his set-up person, in turn contributing a beautiful flick for a point to go into side change up 8-6 on Thul and Strandlund.

Kawamoto picked up right where he left off, scorching a backhand, playing some great defense with Blatt and then hitting a good forehand that just fell over into the Wolverines’ kitchen for a point to go up 11-6. A lengthy dinking match later, highlighted by Kawamoto and Blatt’s complementary play, United pushed the lead to 12-6 and forced the Wolverines to take a breather.

Thul managed to elude United with a forehand return after the timeout, but Blatt answered right away with a forehand masterpiece. Kawamoto played yet another overhand bomb to get to 14-7 freeze and the game then ended quietly when Strandlund returned service long.

Wolverines Mixed Doubles Blow Out United to Square Match

For all intents and purposes, this one was over just after it started. Wolverines’ player of the match Joel Pelletier delivered an overhand bomb right out of the gate in this mixed doubles contest, won easily by Pelletier and Angie Walker by a count of 15-2.

Now Martina Wynia and Daniel Gottfried of United are no slouches, but neither had an answer for Pelletier and Walker’s brilliance. The closest the United pair would get was when Walker set up Pelletier to hit it into the net, to trim the Wolverines’ lead to 4-1. Pelletier scored four of his team’s eight points as the teams went into side change with the Wolverines up 8-1.

Walker and Pelletier dominated the second half too, overcoming any good United defensive play or dinking with seeing eye shots and powerful returns. Walker ripped a return right down the line for a 10-1 lead and Pelletier was a whirlwind a bit later, smacking a return down the line and when United returned that, blowing an overhand by them to go up 14-2. Pelletier and Walker then got together brilliantly to force United into hitting one side out for the victory.

Wolverines Women Stage Epic Comeback in Tight Win over United

As games went in the Eastern Split, this was one for the ages. The Wolverines women’s doubles team of Vicky Strandlund and Angie Walker overcame a seemingly insurmountable 10-4 deficit to Martina Wynia and Hannah Blatt of United, finally winning 15-14.

Wynia was marvelous early on, scoring two of the first three points, including a great backhand, as United roared out to a 3-0 lead. Walker then got the Wolverines on the board with an overhand smoker, only to have Blatt put her side back up by three with two brilliant set-ups for points. Strandlund, with an enormous crossing shot for a point, got the score to 5-3 United. Wynia and Blatt, however, ensured they took a commanding lead into side change, both contributing fabulous shots and dinking well for points to go up 8-4.

The breather didn’t seem to help the Wolverines, as Blatt powered a forehand for yet another point and a 10-4 United lead. Then the Wolverines started chipping away, patiently. Strandlund was a tornado on the court, accounting for three of the next five points to get within one, then combining with Walker to stifle a United offensive charge to tie it 10-10.

With things going their way, the Wolverines got up 12-11 on great dinking, followed by another Strandlund two-point effort, with forehand and backhand winners putting the game at freeze at 14-11 Wolverines.

But, as if by script, United’s Wynia had a hand in getting this one close again, ripping a forehand winner to trim the lead to 14-12, getting one to roll just over the net for another and finally playing outstanding defense with Blatt to tie it up, again. Two freezes later, though, Strandlund made her final statement, putting another behind United for the huge victory.

Wolverines Men Ensure Match Victory with Hard Fought Win over United

The score may have looked a little lopsided – 15-10 in favor of the Wolverines – but the United pair of Matt Kawamoto and Daniel Gottfried gave it their best shot. Haddow Thul and Joel Pelletier needed to be cagey and know when to roll from defense to offense to have a chance at winning the game and match for their team. And they did, with aplomb, taking an early lead and never relinquishing it.

The play of the match had to happen with the Wolverines up 3-1 and the two teams trading shots in an extended dinking rally. The Wolverines won the point, however, by playing stifling defense to go up 4-1. To their credit, Kawamoto and Gottfried didn’t let that faze them, as they too played cohesive defense and dinked their way to a 5-5 tie. The teams then traded points to push the count to 7-7, just before Thul hit a tremendous cross to send the Wolverines ahead at 8-7 to side change.

Thul was instrumental after the break, setting up United for two side outs and then contributing defensively to help get the Wolverines to an 11-8 cushion. Both he and Pelletier smoked superb backhand shots to get to freeze at 14-8. Yet, Gottfried with a nice backhand flick, and Kawamoto with a forehand smash, kept the Wolverines at freeze up 14-10.

The freeze held for one more play, putting the serve back into the Wolverines hands, winning it on a dazzling Thul cross shot that eluded both Kawamoto and Gottfried.


Brewers vs Rush

Brewers Prevail in Close Match with Rush

Rush Women Stifle Brewers Rally in Tight Game

Judging by the first half of this closer-than-you-think game, the Rocky Mount Rush duo of Casey Rodgers and Alex Walker seemed to have had it sewn up, leading 8-3 at side change over the Southwestern Ontario Brewers.

But, when one half of the opposition pair is hard-hitting Susan Pound – along with Christina Chin – all bets are off.

Rodgers and Walker played excellent defense and exerted great pressure on Pound and Chin from the get-go. However, after the break, Pound made her considerable paddle presence felt, smoking two returns for points to make the score 9-7.

The Brewers did make it interesting, getting the score as close as 10-9 Rush, but then Walker took a page out of the Pound book and drilled two winners, with the capable set-up abilities of Rodgers to take a 13-9 lead.

The Brewers didn’t lay down, though, dinking and playing cagey defense to score two points at freeze (14-12 Rush). The Rush put it away when a decent rally ended on a side-out by Pound.

Brewers Easily Handle Rush in Men’s Game to Tie Match

Finding themselves down 1-0 in the match, the Brewers turned to the men’s pair of Mark Cleminson and Jeff Elwood to get them square with the Rush. They delivered, grabbing an early lead and never letting it go to win, convincingly, 15-9.

The closest that the Rush’s Brett Forsythe and Sunny Buttar got was when Forsythe smacked a return that hit Elwood to tie the score 2-2. Forsythe would score another winner to get within one at 5-4 Brewers, but Cleminson and Elwood made few mistakes and complemented each other very well to grab an 8-5 lead at side change.

Buttar drove a great forehand to score a point to open the second half and two points later the Rush rallied well to make the score 9-7 Brewers. Great defense by the Brewers, combined with some unfortunate returns into the Selkirk net by the Rush didn’t help, as the Brewers built a 14-9 lead. The decisive point came on good defense by the Brewers and a side-out by the Rush.

Brewers School Rush in First Mixed Doubles Contest

As games have gone in this event, this was one of the most lopsided. The Southwestern Ontario Brewers Mixed Doubles team of Mark Cleminson and Christina Chin set the pace and the Rocky Mountain Rush’s Brett Forsythe and Alex Walker just couldn’t keep up.

The only lead the Rush had in this game was 1-0 and after that it was all Brewers. Cleminson put his mark on the proceedings right away, blasting a forehand to tie it and later adding an overhand bomb to put the Brewers up 5-1. Chin, to her credit, was just as adept with the Dura ball, setting up the Rush’s Walker to hit one outside. Just before side change, Chin also beautifully set up Cleminson for a monster overhand to go into the break 8-2.

The Rush did show a little life after a rest, with Forsythe and Walker playing a little less tentatively. But Cleminson, again, proved too much to handle, with both Rush players returning balls into the net for key points. Cleminson and Chin never allowed them to get any momentum and won it when the Rush were long on a return.

Rush Stage Huge Comeback Against Brewers in Mixed Doubles to Knot Match

After a couple of runaway games in the Brewers favor that put the Rush down 2-1, this heated tilt was a great way for the Rush to tie up the match. The Rush’s Sunny Buttar and Casey Rodgers had to come all the way back at freeze, down 14-11, to come out on top.

The Rush built a bit of a comfortable lead early, with Rodgers and Buttar both figuring in great dinking rallies to put their team ahead 4-1 on the Brewers’ Susan Pound and Jeff Elwood. True to form, however, Pound got the game to 4-4 with a drive that hit Rodgers square. As it should have been, the teams went into side change with the Brewers leading 8-7.

The teams see-sawed the lead after the break, but then the Brewers pulled away to build a 13-10 advantage, despite a tremendous rally display put on by Rodgers. The Brewers then got to freeze at 14-11 and looked to have the match well in hand. The Rush did not throw in the towel and after both Pound and Elwood hit the net on returns to tie it up 14-14, the Rush won it the weird way, with Elwood getting called for a foot violation.

Brewers Crush Rush in Singles Tiebreaker

After getting called for a foot violation in mixed doubles that handed the Rush a match-tying victory, Jeff Elwood made up for it – and then some.

He was lights out in the Brewers 11-5 match-clinching win, grabbing five of a possible six points from the very capable Brett Forsythe of the Brewers. Elwood put the petal to the metal in the first three-point stanza, winning all three with tremendous forehand slams that eluded Forsythe.

Mark Cleminson, too, stole all the points in the second stanza, ripping a sizzling forehand that the Rush’s Sunny Buttar couldn’t return to put the Brewers up 6-0. Christina Chin then handled the Rush’s Alex Walker, rocketing an overhand winner to keep the Brewers ahead 8-1. Only Susan Pound failed to win her three-point mini-game, going down 3-0 to a fired-up Casey Rodgers to trim the lead to 8-4.

No matter, as Elwood owned Forsythe again, despite one lone blemish that allowed the Rush to extend the game at 10-5. Cleminson then finished it off, hitting a shot that Buttar fired into the net.


Smash vs Wolverines

West Coast Wolverines Coast to Four Game Victory over East Toronto Smash

Wolverines Outlast Smash in Women’s Doubles

You must give the East Toronto Smash women’s team of Leigh Bradwell and Jordann Vigna credit. Even though they eventually lost to the West Coast Wolverines duo Vicky Strandlund and Angie Walker 15-10, they never said die.

The Wolverines came out sizzling, erasing an early 2-1 deficit with some great combined defense and a Walker overhand that neither Bradwell nor Vigna had a chance at. Then tied, the Wolverines took over, not allowing Vigna or Bradwell a chance to get into the game. Walker, the first overall pick in the CNPL, provided many of the thrills leading up to side change, utilizing her unparalleled forehand shot to score three in a row. Strandlund, who is 54, used well-timed backhand flicks to score two points of her own to take the Wolverines into side change up 8-2.

Strandlund started things up after the rest, firing another backhand winner, and two points later and a serious miscommunication by the Smash, the Wolverines were well in command leading 11-2. Or so they thought.

After a timeout, Vigna and Bradwell came to life, even though the score didn’t reflect it. The dinked and played pretty good defense, but eventually the Wolverines rallied to get to freeze at 14-5. However, it took a full 11 plays to finally stifle what was an inspiring comeback attempt by the Smash. Both clubs gave the spectators their money’s worth with defense and determined rallies.

Wolverines Men Strike Early to Beat Smash

Right out the gate, you could sense that this likely wasn’t going to go in the Smash’s favor. The Wolverines men’s doubles team of Haddow Thul and Joel Pelletier were more in sync and a little more energetic than their counterparts from the Smash, Dalbir Bhandal and Chris Alain. The Wolverines poured it on from the get-go and never trailed en route to a 15-10 triumph.

Pelletier set the tone for the rest of the game when he ripped a forehand that hit the Smash’s Alain squarely in the upper torso, giving the Wolverines a 3-1 lead. Thul added a nice crossing shot shortly thereafter, extending the lead to 7-3, before both teams went into side change at 8-4 Wolverines.

Pelletier kept up his offensive display after the break, pounding an overhand to extend the margin to 10-4, but Alain countered with a sweet set-up that the Wolverines found Selkirk net on return. The two squads exchanged a few points, before the giant Bhandal made his presence known. Down 12-6, he used his wingspan to drive a forehand through the Wolverines for a point, and after Thul played an amazing lob and set-up shot to counter, Bhandal again sent a forehand torpedo the Wolverines way for a point and a 13-8 Wolverines lead.

Now, the Smash did make the Wolverines work a bit with a 14-9 lead at freeze, with Alain smacking a nice backhand to get the score to 14-10, but it ended on a whimper when the Smash were called for a foot fault.

Wolverines Clinch Match in First Mixed Doubles Game

If she wasn’t player of the match in this one, the Wolverines’ Vicky Strandlund certainly should have been. The 54-year-old 32nd overall pick was a tiny whirlwind on the Pickleroll floor, combining with Haddow Thul to beat the Smash mixed pair of Chris Alain and Leigh Bradwell by a 15-8 count.

Right out of the gate, Strandlund smacked a brilliant crossing shot to put the Wolverines up 1-0, but that seemed to energize the Smash, who needed a win to keep their team alive in the match. The Smash’s Alain asserted himself early, logging an overhand winner, a nice set-up shot and a sneaky drop to put the Smash up 5-4. It should be noted, though, that Strandlund played incredible defense on that play – and in response she tied it up with a wicked forehand.

After that, it was all Wolverines, who lead 8-5 at side change. Thul got his game going well in the second stanza, combining well with Strandlund to stifle the Smash’s offensive charges. Strandlund again made her significant presence known, with a forehand to push the lead to 10-6 and then rallying with Thul and sending a seeing-eye lob the Smash’s way.

With the score 13-8 and the Wolverines in command, Thul and Strandlund displayed dogged defense, setting up Alain to hit one long. Thul then ended this lopsided affair with a forehand missile.

Smash Prevail in Final Mixed Doubles Game

It was a nothing contest – what with the Wolverines winning the first three games – but no one told Jordann Vigna.

The tiny half of the Smash’s mixed doubles team that included giant Dalbir Bhandal, was a dinking and shooting dynamo as the Smash salvaged some pride with a comeback 15-13 victory over the Wolverines team of Joel Pelletier and Angie Walker.

Drafted 7th overall and standing just 5’2” (compared to Bhandal’s 6’5” frame), Vigna put on a dinking clinic and made several key shots for points, including one scorcher early that put the Smash up 3-2. The Wolverines, though, would turn the tide before side change, with Pelletier and Walker slamming back-to-back winners to give their team an 8-5 lead.

Bhandal and Vigna used the rest to come out hard in the second half, uniting for great defensive play and both sending hard flicks back at the Wolverines, eventually knotting the score at 9-9. The teams then exchanged points, with one coming off a bit of a Smash miscommunication, tying the score at 11-11.

Vigna would again torch the Wolverines, delivering a massive shot to put the Smash up 15-11 and with the freeze at 14-13 in favor of the Smash, Bhandal sent a superb set-up shot that Pelletier sent into the Selkirk net for the win.


United vs Rollers

Toronto United Trip Up Northern Rollers

United Women Overcome Rollers in First Game

As good as Northern Rollers duo Emma Li and Jessica Kawamoto were together in this match opener, Toronto United’s Martina Wynia and Hannah Blatt were just a little better. Blatt and Wynia were huge when it mattered and ended up winning 15-12.

Blatt and Wynia roared to an early 5-2 lead, with Blatt playing a well-placed lob that the Rollers couldn’t return and Wynia hitting a forehand bomb that neither Li nor Kawamoto could get to. The Rollers answered right back, as Kawamoto rifled a return for a point and the two combining to rally and get the game to 5-4. It was 6-6 after a great lob by the Rollers gained a point, but the Rollers made two unforced errors to go down 8-6 at side break.

There was a bit of controversy when the Rollers tied it up at 8-8, as the referees had to stick with their original call that a ball United couldn’t return did hit the side net stanchion first. The Rollers then took their first and only lead on outstanding dinking, only to see Blatt and Wynia exchange unreturnable missiles to get the score to 11-9. The Rollers managed to tie it up again on a great crossing shot and good dinking play but hit net to trail 12-11.

Wynia blasted another winner and Rollers Li hit a great cross for her team’s last point, just before United staged a great rally to get to freeze. The game ended, fittingly, with a Blatt blast that the Rollers couldn’t answer.

United Crush Rollers in Second Half of Men’s Doubles Game

Having earlier lost a five-game heartbreaker to the Southwestern Ontario Brewers and dropping the first game in this match, the Northern Rollers men’s doubles team of Rob Krizmanich and Corey Osborne were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and get their squad back in it. But, after a pretty good first half against United’s Daniel Gottfried and Matt Kawamoto, Krizmanich and Osborne could not answer the bell in a 15-8 defeat.

The two teams duked it out early, with some great rallies and big shots by Kawamoto and Krizmanich, as United took a 5-2 lead. Corey Osborne smacked a winner to get it to 5-3, followed by a great Gottfried set-up for a point. Osborne figured in the game again at 7-5 United when he hit a miraculous return to get the Rollers within one. Gottfried, though, sent his team into side change with an overhand winner.

After Matt Kawamoto sent his serve into the net to allow the Rollers to stay within two points at 9-7, it was all United from there. A lowlight for the Rollers was a foot fault assessed to Krizmanich, giving United a 12-8 lead, which they used to quickly score three to win it on great rally defense and blasts by both Kawamoto and Gottfried.

Rollers Outlast United in Key Mixed Doubles Game

It wasn’t a game for the ages, but the Rollers mixed doubles duo of Corey Osborne and Emma Li took it. With plenty of dinking and shooting fireworks in the first two games, this one between the Rollers and United’s pair Daniel Gottfried and Martina Wynia was quiet, as the Rollers stayed alive in the match with a 15-12 triumph.

Of note early in this one, Li looked made an amazing shot down the line shot to put the Rollers ahead 3-1, but it was ruled side out, at first. After a conference, it was decided in. That then, was likely a key turning point, as the Rollers never trailed after that.

There weren’t many lengthy rallies before side change, with only Wynia delivering a solid blast to make the score 6-4 Rollers and then the teams went into side change with the Rollers up 8-6. The second half was just as quiet, with the two squads trading points to see the score tied 10-10 when Osborne hit a return long.

United took advantage of two Osborne returns that hit the net to make the score 13-12 Rollers, however, Osborne redeemed himself with two huge overhand shots to deliver a much-needed win.

United Edges Past Rollers in Mixed Doubles Match Winner

Just call this one the “Battle of the Kawamotos.” United’s Matt and the Rollers’ Jessica figured large in this heated contest, which saw United eventually win 15-13 to hand them the match. Paired with Matt was Hannah Blatt and on Jessica’s side was wily veteran Rob Krizmanich. Pertaining to Krizmanich, the game got off to an interesting start when his dink return rolled down the Selkirk net, only to land on the Rollers side for a 1-0 United lead. And lastly, with the score 14-13 United, Krizmanich was called for a foot foul to hand United the winning point.

In between, there was some entertaining back-and-forth between the two Kawamotos. Matt hit Jessica with a smash to make it 3-0 United and later Jessica drilled an amazing forehand down the middle that eluded Matt and Blatt to make the score 5-3 United. Matt and Jessica then traded backhand winners before United went into side change leading 8-5.

The rest over, the Kawamotos went at it again, with Blatt and Krizmanich interjecting a little bit more. Matt again smacked a backhand that hit his sister to make the score 10-6, but she got her revenge two points later with a backhand of her own to make the score 11-7. Before this one was settled by that foot foul on Krizmanich, the Rollers, who were down 14-9 at freeze, gamely fought back to get within one.


Lions vs Pronghorns

Prairie Pronghorns Storm Back to Beat Lions in Four

Lions Whip Pronghorns 15-7 in First Mixed Doubles Tilt

There have been many close, electrifying, and lengthy games in the Eastern Split. This wasn’t one of them.

Not to say that there wasn’t some good pickleball played, but the Montreal Lions duo of Cam Rich and Kim Layton absolutely devoured their Pronghorns counterparts Matty Stodola and Kim Brent. The Pronghorns scored the first point but could do little to counter the dominance of Rich and Layton.

The score was tied 2-2 early on, when Layton hit two very good shots in a three-point swing as Montreal went ahead 5-2. The Pronghorns’ Brent countered with a forehand smash for a point, followed by Montreal’s Rich slamming an overhand and Brent setting up a Pronghorns side out miss to make the score 7-3. Rich made another excellent flick to send the teams to side change and Montreal up 8-4.

Rested and still in command, Rich and Layton continued their shot mastery. Rich drilled a great overhand and followed it up a little later with a tricky set-up to put Montreal ahead 11-5. Layton then added a sweet flick of her own for another point, forcing the Pronghorns to take a time out.

The Lions used that break to reset, only allowing the Pronghorns two more points, one on a great Stodola cross-shot to make the score 13-7. Rich followed with another superb backhand shot for a point and Layton closed this one out with a nice flick.

Pronghorns Stave Off Lions Comeback to Triumph in Second Mixed Doubles Game

This game was a lot tighter than the first contest of this match, won in a walk by the Lions. And much as Pam Clarke and Ravi Prakash play well together, this was the “Ravi Show” as the Prairie Pronghorns hung on to beat Grace Thomas and Eric Gagnon of the Lions, 15-13.

It didn’t start that well for Prakash, who was caught with a foot in the kitchen to give the Lions a 2-1 lead. The undrafted 39-year-old made up for it right away, though, banging an overhand winner and then a deft cross shot to put the Pronghorns up. Two points later, the Lions had to take a much-needed timeout, down 5-2. Leading up to side change, both the Lions and Pronghorns traded returns into the net or side outs, with the score favoring the Pronghorns at 8-6.

The Lions quickly tied it up after the break, and then Prakash went to work. He would account for his team’s next five points on flicks, forehands, and overhands, with only one Lions rally and a Pronghorns side out to interrupt in between, putting the tally at 13-10 Pronghorns. The Lions took another timeout and it seemed to work, as they climbed back in, with Gagnon tying it up on a brilliant cross. However, Clarke ensured Prakash wouldn’t take all the credit, slamming a cross to put the Pronghorns back up, with the final point gained when Gagnon put a return into the net.

Pronghorns Women’s Doubles Team Puts in Gutsy Effort in Win Over Lions

The Eastern Split saw a lot of very tight, thrilling games that went down to double freeze. The pivotal game between the Prairie Pronghorns Kim Brent and Pam Clarke, up against Montreal Lions Kim Layton and Grace Thomas did not disappoint. The Pronghorns had to erase a pair of two-point deficits late to squeak by the Lions 15-14.

Not much remarkable happened in the early stages, other than a foot foul to Montreal. With the score at 2-2, Clarke placed a great shot down the line for a 3-2 Pronghorns lead. After Clarke scored again on a forehand, it started a bit of Pronghorns run, with Brent contributing a brilliant forehand to force the Lions into a timeout down 7-4. The teams would trade points into side change and then the Lions showed their mettle.

Layton and Thomas would put on a display of well-coordinated dinking, some monster shots that the Pronghorns struggled to return and stout defense to tally six straight and take an 11-8 lead. Undaunted, the Pronghorns turned the tide, outscoring the Lions 4-1 to knot things up, 12-12. Clarke smacked a superb cross to give the Pronghorns a 14-13 lead, but the Lions answered to send it double freeze. The Lions did stay alive for one play, however, the Pronghorns put on a dinking show and then Clarke sealed the Lions fate with a dazzling forehand winner.

Pronghorns Men Seal Match Triumph with Dominant Win Over Lions

If one particular play can epitomize a game, then what happened to the Montreal Lions pair of Eric Gagnon and Cam Rich after side change was it. Down 8-4 and coming off a 60-second break, the two collided at center court after some miscommunication, handing the Pronghorns team of Matty Stodola and Ravi Prakash another easy point on the way to a 15-9 Pronghorns victory.

Despite the Lions struggles at times, Stodola and Prakash set the tone early, with both players zipping terrific shots down the line on difficult returns to score points. Prakash also contributed a booming overhand and a tricky placement shot to give the Pronghorns an 8-4 cushion at side change.

After the collision, the Lions did dink their way to a point, but had any mojo from that erased when Prakash again drilled on overhand to keep the Pronghorns up 10-5. Gagnon, one of the oldest players in the Eastern Split at 54, did his level best to try and return one after Prakash’s smash, just missing. However, he did dazzle with a seeing-eye flick to get the score to 11-6.

The Pronghorns defense and team play, in the end, was too much to handle for the Lions, even though Rich pounded a solid shot to keep his team in it at 13-9. But Gagnon returned a shot long in a subsequent play and Rich hit nothing but net to give the Pronghorns the game and match.