James Stout And Dylan Patterson Capture New York Athletic Club Invitational  
by Rob Dinerman

 Winner Matt Mackin, Finalist Tyler Smith

Finalist Stephanie Vogel, Winner Julie Cerullo

Winners Ashley West and Victoria Simmonds, Finalists Elise O’Connell and Julie Cerullo

Winners James Stout and Dylan Patterson, Finalists Peter Kelly and Josh Schwartz

Dateline February 13th --- Pushed to a fifth game when their opponents staged a furious eleventh-hour rally in the fourth, top seeds James Stout and Dylan Patterson responded by racing out to a commanding early lead and never looked back, defeating Josh Schwartz and Peter Kelly by a score of 15-13, 14-15, 15-8, 12-15, 15-10 this past weekend in the final round of the eighth annual New York Athletic Club (NYAC) Invitational. It marked the second NYAC Invitational title for both Patterson, who had previously won this event with Steve Scharff in 2011, and Stout, the defending champion by virtue of his march through the draw a year ago with his Racquet & Tennis pro shop colleague Will Newnham. Schwartz and Kelly, winners of this tournament in 2015, earned their way to this entertaining 80-minute Sunday summit with a back-and-forth route-going semifinal victory over Alex Domenick and Will Hartigan, while Stout and Patterson took the balancing top-half semi in straight sets against four-time Intercollegiate singles champion Yasser El Halaby and his partner Coly Smith, who were coming off an admirable but highly strenuous performance in an upset four-game quarterfinal win over Addison West and Eric Bedell just a few hours earlier.

   The multi-talented Stout, the reigning world champion in rackets and a former U. S. Open winner in court tennis as well, controlled much of the action in the games that his team won with his athleticism, pace and unpredictable shot selection, while Patterson’s solid deep-court game and sharp-shooting, especially on cross-drop volleys to the front left, provided a perfect complement and allowed this pair to for the most part carry the play, both territorially and on the scoreboard. It is to the credit of frequent teammates Schwartz and Kelly that they were able to extemporize, defend, cover for each other and weather the Stout/Patterson storm as well as they did through the first four evenly divided games, during which they grittily hung in, converted the opportunities and openings that presented themselves, and gratefully accepted Patterson tins (on a forehand reverse-corner and a backhand straight drop respectively) on the final points of both the second and fourth games. Perhaps drained by the substantial amount of energy they had been forced to expend in rescuing the fourth game with a late burst, and facing their second fifth game in as many matches, Schwartz and Kelly sagged at the outset of the final stanza, yielding the first three points and falling behind 6-1 and 8-3, and they were never able to mount a serious comeback effort or to thwart a resolute Stout/Patterson surge to the finish line.

  In the women’s doubles final, Ashley West, Addison’s wife, and her partner Victoria Simmonds, a  recent top-15 on the pro women’s doubles tour who was making her return to tournament competition after giving birth to twins four months ago, triumphed in a well-played and closely contested four games (15-11, 13-15, 15-13, 15-10) against Princeton alumnae Julie Cerullo and Elise O’Connell. The latter duo concentrated much of their attack on West, who, however, proved fully up to the challenge by consistently fending off her opponents’ salvos and scoring a number of winners of her own. After eking out a close third game, West and Simmonds were never in trouble thereafter, benefiting from a half-dozen Cerullo/O’Connell tins while staying error-free themselves as the fourth and final game moved along.

   Cerullo was able to earn a split on the day by successfully defending her NYAC Invitational women’s singles title with a tight though straight-game 11-8, 12-10, 12-10 final-round win over Stephanie Vogel. The men’s singles final between Matt Mackin and Tyler Smith went to former Trinity College co-captain Mackin, who, after dropping the opening game, ultimately prevailed by a 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 tally.