After three days of play, The Mountaineers, a Mountain Area tennis team, recently won the 20th Annual Paribas Open 3.5 Senior Cup championship held in Palm Desert.
The senior tennis classic featured 950 participants from across the country and from Africa, Australia and Canada.
The team is made up of George 'the Energizer' Walden, 81, Bob 'Popeye' Pope, 76, Mariposa's Joe 'G.I. Joe' Lodge, 68, Russ 'the Unreturnable Volley' Duncanson, 60, Fresno's Mike 'Skyhook' Fowler, 66, Kim 'Here It Comes' Chenowith, 55, and Alan 'Can Play With Anyone' Cheah, 64. Another member of the team, Mariposa's Irwin Iida, 63, missed the event due to a knee injury suffered during a practice match prior to the tournament.
"After winning the championship in 2010, we were runner-ups to Dragon, a team from the Southern Sea, last year," said team captain Walden. ""We suffered a bitter defeat in the finals winning one out of three matches."
Walden said the pattern this year was eerily similar.
"They again dominated and beat us in all three matches during regular session play. They were the top point getters with the Mountaineers a distant second," Walden said.
Mountaineers double team No. 1, Duncanson and Lodge, faced a Dragon team with their hardest hitter and best placement specialist. Team No. 2, Pope and Chenowith faced the same team that beat them in regular play, but in this match, between Pope's consistency and precision and Chenowith's overhead smashes, team No. 2 stunned their opponents with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
Meanwhile team No.3, Fowler and Cheah, found themselves in a see-saw battle with the Dragons, a match that went to a super tiebreaker.
"We lost the first set 6-3 and thinking both our teams had lost, we thought to ourselves, let's just "win one for the Gipper," Cheah said.
Down 4-5, love-40 and triple match point for the Dragons, team three pulled out a win to make it 5-5. The match went to 6-6. Then team three won 7-5 in the tie breaker to split sets.
A 10-point super tiebreaker, just like last year, would decide team three's fate. The Dragon jumped to a 3-0 lead with Fowler and Cheah struggling to a 9-6 deficit. Again, the Dragons had triple match point but team three won five points in a row to seal the deal with an 11-9 win and the championship.
"Thanks to George Walden's tenacious play, dogged determination and untiring effort every year, the Mountaineers are once again champions," Cheah said.