Congratulations to former Servite Tennis player, Tanner Smith '14 and his father on winning the USTA National Father-Son Clay Court Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tanner will head to USC in the fall and play under the direction of his father and Head Tennis Coach, Peter Smith.
Read more about their accomplishment here (via cincinnati.com):
Peter and Tanner Smith ended nine years of dominance by two families on Sunday by winning their first USTA National Father-Son Clay Court championship at Cincinnati Tennis Club, the tournament's home the last 41 years.
The 65th staging of the event treated the crowd to a third final in four years and sixth in nine years to go three sets. Peter, the USC men's head tennis coach, and Tanner, who joins the Trojans this fall after starring at Servite High School, outlasted father Eoin Collins and son Tadhg Collins, 6-0, 1-6, 6-4.
It was the Smith's second appearance in the final. They lost after being at match point in 2011, but accepted the Gold Ball trophy this time around, then kissed it upon presentation. They placed third in 2012. It was a maiden visit to the final for the Collins, making their second tournament appearance
The last tandem to win the National Father-Son Clay Court Championship other than multiple champions Jerry and Brett Morse-Karzens and Jimmy and Jay Weinacker was the team of Neal and Cole Newman in 2004. The Weinackers were two-time defending champions with back-to-back titles also in 2009-10. They had been in the finals nine years in a row and 11 of 13.
The Morse-Karzens won from 2005-08 and in 2011. From 2008 to 2013, the Weinackers and Morse-Karzens met in the final every year except 2011 when the Morse-Karzens beat the Smiths. The Weinackers had won two of this year's first four USTA Father-Son national events.
"I thought a lot of that first set today was experience for us. We had been here before, and they hadn't. After that, it was a total chess match," said Peter Smith, who earlier this year guided USC to a fifth national championship in six seasons. "We have a comfort level in the finals. It's an absolute thrill to finally win it. I wanted so bad to do it for Tanner. It felt good to do it."
The Smiths, from Los Alamitos, Calif., entered play unranked. Peter, 49, and his other son, Riley, are ranked No. 3 by the USTA. This was Peter's third appearance at the nationals with Tanner, 19, his fourth overall.
Eoin (sounds like Owen) and Tadhg are Irish, and ranked 13th by the USTA. Residents in Houston, Tex., the Collins were third at last year's Father-Son tournament. Tadhg has verbally committed to play for the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2015 following graduation from Memorial High School. On Sunday, they accepted the Silver Ball, emblematic of a USTA runner-up finish.
"The Collins were scaring the crap out of me after they got it going," said Tanner Smith, a rangy 6-foot-6 player who reaches a lot of lobs. "Mr. Collins is unbelievable at the net. We had to keep him back more. Our big play was making first serves, and making the return to keep him away."
The Smiths ended it with a sizzling ace by Tanner. All Tadhg Collins could do with it was deflect the ball wide right off the scoring numbers in front of the official's chair. When the ball fell harmlessly to the court, Peter Smith yelled, "C'mon baby!" and hugged his son before meeting the Collins at center court with handshakes.
"I'd like to congratulate the Smiths. I'm not sure how we got back into it after that first set, when we could hardly win a point, but we did," said Eoin Collins, a former pro tour member in Ireland and a one-time Davis Cup team member for his home country. The elder Collins is the reigning International Tennis Federation senior world champion in the men's 45 category. His son is ranked in the top 200 by the USTA and top 30 in Texas in the class of 2015.
Peter Smith said they were a handful after dropping the first set in 20 minutes. "I'm going to tell you right now, it's a lot harder to play than it is to coach," the elder Smith said. "It was like we should have just started with the third set after we won the first one and they won the second."