There was a significant age gap separating the two teams competing in the York City-County Tennis Tournament Men's Doubles championship match on Tuesday evening.
The players on one side of the net were old enough to be the fathers of the guys on the other side. There was very little separating the four, though, when it came to tennis skills.
In a riveting match that went the distance, the young guys, Jared Howat and Mikesh Desai, edged the older guys, Craig Diehl and Jeff Clark, by winning a third-set tie-breaker. Howat and Desai, both in their early 20s, fought back after losing the first set to earn a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Diehl and Clark, who are both in their early 50s.
"Hats off to them, they played fantastic," Howat said. "They definitely aren't your typical 50-year-old tennis players."
Diehl, who has won 11 City-County Men's Singles titles and teamed with Jim Kohr for 20 doubles championships, and Clark, who's won numerous titles in his home county (Lancaster), appeared on their way to another championship when they easily captured the first set. However, Howat and Desai made an adjustment which helped get them back into the match.
"We had to switch sides (change positions on their side of their net)," Howat said. "It was a do-or-die situation. I think it (the switch) got to them (Diehl and Clark) a little bit."
Howat and Desai, a former standout at Central York, never trailed in the second set. Howat ripped a service return for a winner on set point.
The third set was tied at 2-2 and 4-4- before Howat and Desai staved off defeat by using a service break to forge a 6-6 deadlock.
Diehl and Clark seized the advantage in the tiebreaker going up, 4-2, but Howat and Desai won the next two points for four all. After the teams split the next two points to create a 5-5 tie, Howat executed a volley for 6-5, setting up a match point. Howat, who has a huge forehand to go with a deft touch around the net, then crushed a service winner to give his team the title.
Desai, meanwhile, after having his serve broken twice in the opening set, won his serve every time in the second and third sets.
"Jared started out well, I started out shaky," Desai said. "Once we both got into a rhythm, we were OK."
Desai, like Howat, praised his opponents.
"They know where you're going to hit the ball before you hit it, and they move so well," he said.
Desai played college tennis for two years at Penn State York and one year at Methodist University before transferring to Penn State's main campus. He makes it a point to play in City-County.
"I like the tournament, and I want to come out and have fun," he said. "I hadn't played doubles with Jared in four or five years. It feels good to win."
Howat, a West Chester Henderson High School graduate and a teaching professional at Bent Creek Country Club in Lititz, Lancaster County, will try to for a singles-doubles sweep when he takes on York High and York College graduate Phil Myers in the Men's Singles final.
The match is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Farquhar Park. Myers, the No. 2 seed behind Howat, bested No. 4 seed, Jason Phillips, 6-4, 6-0, in a semifinal on Tuesday.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org.