The Battle Has Just Begun

Deb McGeehan and Brenda Harried with opponents (photo by TJ Duffy, STC)

Mark, Sue, Paula, and Anne at the Social (photo by TJ Duffy, STC)

Anne Williams

“Hey, we should have a tennis tournament between SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch!” “Great idea … we should make it an annual event!” “Hey, we can call it the Battle for the Saddle!” “Perfect, and we will host the first year!” This was the conversation (in October 2022) with Mark Adamson, the newly elected president of the SaddleBrooke Ranch Tennis Club. Never in our wildest of dreams would we have envisioned The Ranch planning and executing a perfect event! (Well, perfect except for the weather!)

On Jan. 3, 4, and 5, 55 tennis players and 21 POP players from SaddleBrooke met with 47 tennis players and 5 POP players at The Ranch for tennis matches and POP exhibition (round robin) play.

The mornings (well, actually, most of the days) were brutally cold. A fierce wind-chill matched with overcast skies. But this did not deter players from both SaddleBrooke and The Ranch. (Thank you to the brave souls who played at 8 a.m.!) Slight rain and wet courts on the morning of Jan. 3 caused a delay, but planners and players adjusted, moving those matches to Jan. 4. Flexibility was the word for the day.

SaddleBrooke pro Chris Madsen, who teaches at both clubs, worked very hard to “pair” the teams for fair and equitable matches. As a result, many of the SaddleBrooke 4.0 and 4.5 players were not able to participate in this year’s event (we will work to change that for next year!).

The Ranch tournament planning team (Mark Adamson, Sue Cook, and Paula Cartwright) dove in with both feet. They ordered a banner that will travel to the host site each year. They designed and built (with woodworker extraordinaire Dave Stark from The Ranch) an incredibly beautiful trophy.

Our players were pampered with coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, healthy and nutritional snacks, match balls, and very friendly/gracious opponents. Our “recon” tells us that the players from The Ranch took this challenge very seriously … clinics, private lessons. And, yes, it paid off royally. The Ranch won the 2023 Battle for the Saddle with a 23 to 16 final score.

The last two tennis matches (mixed doubles) at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, were the befitting “finale” for this tournament. Both matches lasted two hours. Both matches went to a third-set tiebreaker: one win for SaddleBrooke and one win for The Ranch.

POP tennis is new at The Ranch, and they only had five players for this event. Our 21 POP players were gracious in coming to play in a round robin exhibition. This will hopefully spur increased interest for POP tennis at The Ranch and a more formidable tournament for next year!

After the tournament, our hosts treated us to a beautiful social event in one of the ballrooms at The Ranch. Delicious appetizers and a no-host bar allowed the players to meet, to share bragging rights, and to develop new friendships—the main goal of this event!

Mark Adamson presented the trophy to the winning team, and the Ranch event planners were acknowledged for the extraordinary amount of work involved.

The bar has been set very high for the SaddleBrooke Tennis Club to host next year’s tournament. (We will plan it later in February to hope for warmer weather!) The Ranch handed the torch (the banner) off to SaddleBrooke for the 2024 event. But the battle has just begun!