Maleka teams with new partner to win another mixed doubles crown at Country Club of York
- Punch Maleka won another Mixed Doubles Charity Classic this past weekend.
- Maleka had a new partner this year, Delia Sescioreanu Mask.
- Maleka and Mask teamed to beat Krista Hardebeck and Ilia Shatashvili in the title match.
Delia Sescioreanu Mask planned to go to the beach with her husband this weekend.
Her plans changed, though, and, instead of walking in the sand, Mask spent Saturday and Sunday running on the clay tennis courts at the Country Club of York.
She teamed with Punch Maleka to capture the title in the third annual Mixed Doubles Charity Classic.
It was the second straight title for Maleka, who teamed with Charlotte Sikora to win the championship last year.
When Sikora couldn't return this year because of an injury, Mask became Maleka's partner for the two-day event.
"I found out about a week and a half ago about playing with Punch," said Mask, a native of Romania. who played professionally and also competed in college tennis for the University of Auburn-Montgomery. "I knew I had big shoes to fill with Charlotte and him winning last year. I was under a little bit of pressure, but he managed to calm me down in the big points."
Maleka and Mask earned the title with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Ilia Shatasvili and Krista Hardebeck.
Maleka clinched the championship in dramatic style by serving an ace on match point.
"I almost didn't go for it," he said. "But then I thought, 'just let me go for it.' We planned to go up the T, but then, I thought, 'no, go wide.'"
Maleka's serve hit in the box and sailed off the side of the court without anyone getting a racket on the ball.
He and his new partner became the 2017 champions.
"She's great," Maleka said when asked about Mask. "She hasn't played a lot of matches, so there were times she got a little nervous. But, doubles is teamwork, and we pushed each other."
Mask felt that her team's aggressive style of play was the key in winning the title.
"We both serve and volley and return and volley. We both come to the net all the time, and I think we clicked," she said.
Maleka, who grew up in South Africa and also played professionally, clicked two years in a row with two different partners. It won't be a surprise to see him back in York next year.
"It's a great tournament. I think it's going to grow," he said.
Bornt-Davis, Andrews are top local finishers: Maleka and Mask made it to this year's final, but not before being pushed by two Yorkers, Evan Andrews and Lisa Bornt-Davis, in the semifinals. Maleka and Mask prevailed, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Andrews, who played at Delaware, and Bornt-Davis, who played at Furman, advanced further than any of the other local teams by winning two matches on Saturday.
"Lisa and I, we always click," Andrews said. "We've known each other so long. "She's so aggressive in closing on the net and finishing points quickly."
Despite the tough loss in the semifinals, Andrews enjoyed his time in the tournament immensely.
"I love it," he said. "It's high-level competition, and no team is an easy team."
In the other semifinal on Sunday, Shastasvili and Hardebeck bested Nima Roshan and Julia Cohen, 6-4. 7-5.
There was no third-place match.
Maleka and Mask received $2,000 for winning the championship.
Proceeds from the event will go toward opioid prevention in York.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.