ESCANABA — Earlier this year, the COVID-19 virus may have shed some doubt whether the Michigan-Wisconsin Open tennis tournament would be held this year.
It was business as usual, however, as the 73rd annual tourney drew 42 players this weekend.
“People are coming here to get in some matches,” said Dennis Lueneburg, who shares the directing duties with Tom Penegor, Brock Bougie and Escanaba Recreation Department director Kim Peterson. “They’re just happy to be playing, and I’m glad we kept the tournament going. We got a lot of high school girls’ players, and it looks like they’re going to get to play this fall.”
Jenna Nolde of Menominee captured the women’s B/girls’ singles title with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over defending champion Jillian Skewis of Negaunee on a warm Saturday.
Livea Mazurek and Katarina Serbentas of Iron River then outlasted Skewis and Morgan Carlson, also of Negaunee, for the doubles’ championship 6-3, 6-7 (5-7) and 10-7 in a super tie-breaker on a cloudy, windy and unseasonably cool Sunday at Royce Park.
“It was a big adjustment playing doubles,” said Mazurek, who will play No. 1 singles in her senior season at West Iron County this fall. “I need to get some work in on my swing. I was double-faulting a lot. The wind didn’t make that much of a difference, although it was probably more challenging hitting the ball into the wind.”
Serbentas, a 2019 West Iron graduate, is entering her sophomore year at Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. where she plays singles.
“The wind definitely affected the serving,” she said. “The ball goes slower into the wind, but I can control it better with the wind. In the first set we came out strong, although it was a tough match. They’re (Skewis-Carlson) good players. It was really strange coming back here. Experience is everything. Competition is a lot tougher in college because the girls hit the ball a lot harder.”
Dave Young of Gladstone and Darrin Young of Escanaba were crowned veteran men’s champions after winning both of their matches. Glenn Pearson of Gladstone and Al O’Dell of Esky were runners-up.
“We had a ball, although the weather surprised us bigtime,” said Dave. “You had to adjust the way you hit the ball because the wind just carried it. You really had to watch yourself, even when serving.”
Holden Ross-Rich Junak of Iron River copped the doubles combined title in a 6-4, 6-2 conquest of Dan and Luke Skewis of Negaunee.
The Negaunee duo reached the finals with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 semifinal triumph over 71-year-old Dennis Kreuser of LaCrosse, Wis. and 72-year-old Earl Lepisto of Menominee.
“What keeps us going is the trifecta,” Kreuser laughed. “We have wine at noon, beer with our supper and brandy and popcorn before we turn in at night. That’s what gives us reason to get up in the morning.”
Kreuser copped singles with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over his partner Saturday.
“That was a tough match,” Kreuser added. “I’ve been coming up here about the past 10-15 years and getting together with Earl for a weekend of tennis. This has become a tradition for us. This is a nice town and area with a lot of good people.”
Lepisto had similar thoughts.
“We appreciate Denny putting in the time and effort to keep this going,” he said. “We really enjoy this tournament.”
Ruth Smith-Pat Blewett of Alden, Mich. rallied past Michelle Mayville-Jim Bruce of Esky 2-6, 6-2 (11-9) for the women’s and mixed B title.
Women’s B/girls — Jenna Nolde, Menominee, def. Jillian Skewis, Negaunee, 6-2, 6-2
Veteran men — Dennis Kreuser, LaCrosse, Wis., def. Earl Lepisto, Menominee, 6-2, 6-2.
Women’s B/girls — Livea Mazurek-Katarina Serbentas, Iron River, def. Skewis-Morgan Carlson, Negaunee, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 10-7.
Women’s/Mixed B Senior — Ruth Smith-Pat Blewett, Alden, Mich. def. Michelle Mayville-Jim Bruce, Escanaba, 2-6, 6-2 (11-9).
Doubles combined — Holden Ross-Rich Junak, Iron River, def. Dan and Luke Skewis, Negaunee, 6-4, 6-2.
Veteran men — 1. Dave Young, Gladstone-Darrin Young, Escanaba; 2. Glenn Pearson, Gladstone-Al O’Dell, Escanaba.