Mike Graham and Grayson Frazier capture the 28th Woody Title,
3-6, 6-1, (10-5)
What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
(Left-Right) Finalists: Alan Polley, Tim Dorsey,
Mike Graham and Grayson Frazier
Prior to the start of the match, Umpire Joe Kells announced that after extensive testing, the new Dunlop ATP Regular duty balls were used round robin play and semi-finals. The (now retired) White Wilson Grass Court balls were used in the final match (only.) "We have about a six or eight cans of white balls left so maybe one or two finals and it all green balls from there." noted founder and 28 year competitor Jim Settles.
In another sign of the times, Woody veteran and two time champ Tad Yukawa asks "Hey, can you get white pickle balls?"
It was Graham's 25th Woody, 4th final (2005, 2011, 2012, 2019) numerous semi's... but no wood. Grayson Frazier, already owner of two wood balls (2013, 2016) was paired with the hungry Laguna Niguel veteran through the semi's. Is the fourth time the charm? On the other side of the net was Alan Polley (Arcadia CA,) a four year Woody competitor playing in his first final along with Tim Dorsey, two time Woody champ (1995, 1998) and veteran competitor from Phoenix AZ and well known for his graphite play nation wide.
Asked prior to the match his thoughts of playing against the venerable Dorsey in the final, Graham replied without hesitation, "Gamesmanship! Because we know what a strong team they are, the gamesmanship started the night before when I accepted Tim's offer to golf at 6:00am on Sunday before the final. At 6:10am this morning I texted him saying I was waiting in the tee box and where was he? He believed me and panicked!- so didn't get to sleep in."
Match play was set to begin at 9:30am and the heat had already dispatched the dew from the green grass courts by 9:00am
As players and guests arrive, they are greeted by Grateful Dead classic's like Uncle John's Band wafting through the cool sunken grass bowl that is the Marriott Resort tennis paradise. The music set a concert like anticipation as players warmed up, striking the balls and creating their own symphony from their tensioned gut mesh bundled in layers of laminate timber. The wood racquets are the Stradivari of our sport. Spectators managed the limited umbrella shade as they took their seats, some moving around the court finding shade under the talls Palm trees surrounding the two sunken putting green-like courts.
Graham winks; "Cranking THE DEAD through my BOSE during warm-ups further marinated DOO-WAH's mind subliminally."
Dorsey and Polley jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead breaking Mike in the opening service rounds. They did well just to get their three games, using two of their three bisque's to break Dorsey, and stalling any momentum from their 30-all position. This leaves Graham and Frazier only one remaining bisque for the second set. Will it be enough....?
Quick back and forth volley exchanges punctuated by soft touch drop shots and short angle lobs began to become the norm as the match progressed. "The lack of errors, either by a sweetspot winner, or solid miss-hit off wood, the balls just kept dropping in. It became mesmerizing," noted three time champion Kevin Frazier. "Alan with his all court play was methodically and steadfastly pouching away short winners. It definitely helped Dorsey through the stress of the service breaks and heady morning wood play. "I think Tim was trying to fill to many holes, he was hungry to get another taste of that wood" noted his wife Dale Anne.
Starting the second Dorsey again steps up to serve. After two great stick saves and some crafty wood play, Graham and Frazier are looking at an unexpected break point. Graham and Frazier use their third and last bisque to snatch a second Dorsey break. Mike later admitted "... I had to remind Tim at the changeover...it was over."
2019 is the first year The Woody moved to the Championship 10 Point Breaker rather than playing a 3rd set, and at this moment match could go either way.
The Sun is now an issue as Dorsey steps up to start serving the breaker. From the opposite side of the court for the first time (due to the format change to a 10 point breaker,) Dorsey seemed surprised to find the sun now directly into his eyes. He begrudgingly hands the ball to his left handed partner, and Polley deftly serves the first ball and follows it up with a short crosscourt volley winner.
At the side switch it was reported fans could here Mike singing to cover the tune Uncle John's Band with some slight modifications "....When life looks like easy street there is (double faults) at your door... and, "The first (sets) are the hardest, don't you worry anymore..."
As fate would have it, at 9-5 Graham is looking at a chance to serve out the match. He steps up to the line... and the rest is Wood history; "I quick served him!" Mike said proudly. "It was one of my best timed quick serves ever!"
Mike Graham - Snauwaert Gottfried, Gut crosses with Poly Mains
Grayson Frazier - TA Davis Hi-Point
Tim Dorsey - Dunlop Fort
Alan Polley - Kramer SMU (special make-up)
Ave. first serve speed 79 mph
Ave. second serve speed 59 mph
Top Speed Wood Record, 106 mph, Andrew Kells 2012
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