By Rob Kiser
There was a familiar name in Miami County tennis taking home the champions plaque from the men’s open singles competition at the Piqua Open tennis tournament.
Zach Clendenen, son of Von Clendenen, defeated Alex Cretsos 6-1, 6-2 in the championship match.
Von has won numerous County tennis titles, while Zach and Von have multiple doubles titles in the Piqua Open.
“This is about the fourth time I have played in the singles,” Zach, a standout at Tippecanoe and the University of Findlay, which was ranked in the top 10 in the nation in D-II during his four years there. “It was a good tournament to come back in.”
That’s because Clendenen had taken two and a years off from the game until recently.
“When we first hit balls about three weeks ago, that was an experience,” Clendenen said with a laugh. “I just got burnt out after college. But, now I have a seven-month old son and I want to introduce him to the game. My friend Chad Arnett told me there was a late withdrawal so I decided to play.”
And he was immediately tested. After beating Mike Ritze 6-0, 6-1, he faced past champion Dickie Miller in the semifinals, winning 7-5, 6-2.
“Dickie (Miller) is a great player,” Zach Clendenen said. “I don’t care how old he is. We are even now. I am 5-5 against him. I was able to shake the rust off in the second set.”
In the finals, it was a contrast of styles, with Clendenen’s power game winning out.
“Just too much power,” Cretsos said. “But, I felt like I had my chances. There were lot of games I was in. In the second set, I was up love-40 on his serve and he came back to win the game.”
Clendenen said with more than just power.
“I wouldn’t say power, I would say experience,” he said.
Cretsos, who played first doubles for Troy during his high school career, had advanced to the finals with a 6-2, 6-3 over Sean Hatke and was leading defending champion Kosal Tith 4-3 in the first set of the semifinals when Tith had to retire.
“I feel really bad for him,” Cretsos said. “And maybe it didn’t give me the preparation I needed for today’s match. But, this was a good experience for me. I have played in the tournament for about four years and I really enjoy it.”
The participants just appreciate the job Bill Adkins and Bonnie Davis have done to keep the tournament going.
“When my dad was running the Troy City tournament, they would have more than 100 entries for the single draws,” Zach Clendenen said. “Tournaments are dying. It stinks because it is a gentleman’s sport.”
In a first-round match in the open singles, Chad Arnett defeated Chris Hufford 6-2, 6-3.
Tith advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win over Arnett, while Miller advanced to the semifinals with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over Tim Ungericht.
Sanford the “Man”
Rob Sanford was honored as the Piqua Open Person of the Year Monday.
“This was a surprise,” Sanford said. “When I worked for the City, I did a little bit of everything and was involved in the tournament ever year. Now, I let Bonnie (Davis) handle things once the tournament is started and just handled the administrative things. That way, I can spend the holiday with my family. I have always enjoyed the tournament and it is a lot of fun.”