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2005 USHA Nationals
Coney Island Aug 3 - Aug 7, 2005


Satish Jagnandan and Peewee Castro in this year's final match
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Satish Jagnandan and Peewee Castro in this year's final match
Demonstrating both power and flexibility, Satish Jagnandan defeated Peewee Castro to take the USHA Men's Open Single competition. It was the first time in close to a decade that the previous year’s USHA Nationals Men’s Open Singles winner went on to repeat and it demonstrated the champion’s versatility as player.

Satish admits, he often relies on his serve, perhaps the strongest in the game. “I usually try to serve guy off the court,” he said. "Today my serve started out strong, but when it weakened I switched tactics. Peewee is a very tough player. He has tremendous range and he is capable of making great kill shots. I decided not to go for too many offensive points, because I felt he would be able to respond. Instead I tried to keep the ball high, away from his strength.” Satish’s adaptability proved successful. At the start of the first game, when his serve was on, he racked up 16 unanswered points and went on to win 21-5. In the second game, Peewee took an 8-0 lead, but Satish came back to win 21-16.

Both players had faced tough opponents in the semi-finals. Peewee defeated Tony Roberts 17-21, 21-8 and 8-3, while Satish beat Robert Sostre 19-21, 21-14 and 11-0.

Men's Open Doubles

The tournament's most exciting play occurred in the the Open Doubles matches. In the men’s competition. Robert Sostre and Tony Roberts came into the finals after a hard fought win over Peewee Castro and Willie Polanco 21-19 and 21-17 while Rookie Wright and Dave Rojas defeated George Figueroa and Michael Schneider (19-21, 21-9, 11-5). George played impressively well, particularly considering he has never competed in a small ball tournament.

Fans watching Rookie and Dave’s tie breaker were treated to a truly memorable shot, when Rookie, who had already made several dives during the point, ended up flat on his butt after a great save. Mike hit a return towards Rookie that looked good enough to take the point, but Rookie, stuck somewhat between a lying and seated position, raised up his hand and hit a killshot. The crowd gasped and then reacted with nearly a minute of cheers and uninterrupted applause.

The finals was a classic match both in the level of play and in the style of the players. Rookie and Dave are loud, strong and emotional and do best when taking an aggressive and boisterous approach. On the other hand, Tony and Robert are low key players, who never boast or taunt and rarely even speak on the court. Though they both have power and speed their game is more about technique, timing and intelligence. In this match, they played impeccably, despite a slow start. They made a run for the first game to be stopped at 19, but came back to win the second and the tie breaker.

Robert and Tony took an 8 to 2 lead in the tie breaker but Rookie and Dave refused to submit. Serves were exchanged back and forth with no points added until Tony and Robert finally scored two more to make it 10-4 Dave and Rookie, regained serve and put together a run bringing the score up to10-8. With the lead narrowing, Tony was volleying and positioned right in front of Rookie. Realizing a subtle opportunity, Tony faked getting ready for a return and stepped away, letting the ball hit Rookie. The crafty move gave Tony and Robert the serve. The crowd cheered in response with the clarity of thought and the guts it took to pull off the play. Another great return by Tony during the next volley won the match and the tournament.

Women's Competitions


Satish Jagnandan and John 'Rookie'  Wright before their Championship match at this year's USHA Nationals
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Anna Calderon and Theresa McCourt defeated Maggie Crespo and Lori Acevedo to repeat as Women's champions
For the fourth time in five years, Tracy Davis took the Women's Open Single's tournament, handily defeating Theresa McCourt 21-10 and 21-5.

Theresa had been playing tremendous ball in both the single's and doubles competitions, however, Tracy remains her nemesis and consistently wins in tournament play. Tracy's quiet and consistent style is the polar opposite of Theresa's powerful but emotional presence. In this year's match Tracy's consistently well placed returns seemed to unnerve Theresa as she committed a number of unforced errors. Looking smooth and totally in control Tracy glided towards another title.

In a repeat of the 2004 competition, Theresa and Anna Calderon defeated Lori Acevedo and Maggie Crespo to take Women's Open Double's title. In the first game the reigning champs looked like they were done, trailing 14-20 before mounting a tremendous comeback and an exciting victory. In the second game Maggie seemed to tire as both Anna and Theresa kept the pressure on her to force points and push to a 21-14 win.

One of the more notable aspects of the women's match was the intense cross-court verbiage. Theresa (a.k.a. "Terror," a nickname given to her by five year old Kavon Lewis) tends to use emotional outbursts and challenges both to keep her own focus and unnerve opponents. Although her parther Anna did her best to put a lid on it during the final match, the court discussion continued. Lori tried to turn it around, by challenging Theresa to serve towards her strong left, but although she was wearing her Wonder Woman tee shirt, "Terror" kept her focus and concentrated less on being a superhero and more on racking up points. The game now has two top female dynamic duo's: Anna and Theresa, the repeating small ball champs; Lori and Maggie, 2004 and '05 winners in the Citywide big blue tournament. Given the level of intensity in the competition, fans can hope to see future matches between these athletes.

 


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