Craig Diehl's amazing tennis comeback closed in triumphant style on Tuesday evening.
Neither his age, nor a decade-long absence from the York City-County Men's Singles draw, prevented the 51-year-old Diehl from winning another championship.
The Men's Singles champion in 2002 is the 2012 champion.
Despite competing against players 30 years younger, the former Spring Grove High School and Bloomsburg University star found a way to capture another title.
Diehl turned back a strong challenge from Phil Myers on Tuesday evening to win his 11th Men's Singles title, 7-6 (7), 6-1.
With darkness closing in at Farquhar Park, Diehl sealed the deal by smashing a service winner on match point.
"At 51, it's special
"I had a five setter with Jim that we played over two days, and that was special, but this was really nice," Diehl said. "I'm not in great shape. To stay out here in the heat for two days last week and get through that fine was great."
Myers, who graduated from York College this year, pushed Diehl hard in the opening set and had three set points, including a 6-4 lead in the tie-breaker, but he was unable to get the deciding point.
"I thought I had it (the set) for a while," Myers said. "In the first set, I think I played pretty well. My whole strategy was to keep him out there as long as I could."
The first set consumed an hour and 20 minutes, and the second set didn't begin until 8 p.m.
"He (Diehl) asked me at the beginning of the (second) set if we wanted to come back on another day and play (finish the match)," Myers said. "Tactically, I figured it would favor him if we took a break, so I was like, 'let's try to get back out there.' Obviously, he played much better the second set, and my level dropped."
Diehl, who struggled to convert first serves in the opening set, found the range in the second set.
He lost his serve in the first game of the last set, but won his next three service games. Diehl also broke Myers' serve three straight times to clinch the victory.
"In the second set, I got more confidence, and I started ripping it (the serve) deeper," Diehl said. "In the first set, I was hitting them (his serves) short. I don't know if it was nerves."
Diehl was surprised by Myers' composure in the first set.
"I thought Phil would be a little bit decomposed, but he came out cool as a cucumber. He hung in there, and he pushed me," Diehl said.
Myers didn't get the result he wanted, but just playing in a City-County final at Farquhar Park is something he'll always remember.
"I spent many hours up here just working on everything," he said. "I would come out here six to eight hours a day. I was hoping to bring one home, but that's the way the ball bounces some times."
Myers who had a choice of T-shirts, York High or York College, went with his high school alma mater.
"I put a lot of work in with this one before I got to college, so I thought it was rather fitting to pull this one out," he said.
Myers wishes he could do something to save the York High tennis program, which was dropped as part of budget cuts.
"The coach over there, Steve Queenan, does an amazing job," Myers said. "He gives it everything he has, and it's really a shame (the program was discontinued)."
Myers, of course, will have a chance to play in a lot more City-County Men's Singles matches.
Diehl, who's had hip replacement surgery and has also overcome injuries, will, not surprisingly, take it year to year.
"I'll have to make that decision (whether to enter or not) next year. I'll see how I feel and how I'm playing," he said.
In the only other match on Tuesday, Doug Graby defeated Kyle Salaga, 6-2, 6-1, to win the Men's Consolation Singles final on the last day of the tournament.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org or at 505-5407.