Osborn Cup Won by Frank Hentic
25-28 September 2008
Uncertainty has always played a large role within the annual NYCC Osborn Cup. The weather can range from hot to cold from day to day, and depending upon the wind speeds, acorns can either adorn or overcome the surface of court two. This year, though, events unique even for New York took center stage … and it all began two weeks before the first shot was even taken.
It started when the NY Lawn Bowling Club, which shares the facility, hosted a match against a visiting South African team. Apparently, the visiting team seemed to play a slightly different version of the game, throwing balls rather than actually rolling them. Due to an abundance of rain, the soft court surface did not handle this approach well, and at the end of the event the lawns looked, well, as though they had been the victims of a very successful terrorist attack.
After two weeks of intensive work, multiple man-hours and much determination, the Park’s Department had done a fantastic job in rejuvenating the lawns back into playable shape, the pot bunkers filled and the color green returning to areas previously containing only dead grass. All looked almost back to normal, until the first day of play.
Upon arriving to mow the courts Thursday morning, the grounds crew and those present to set the wickets found that the sprinkler system had been unexpediently left on throughout the night. Both courts had been flooded, and with rain in the forecast for the next few days, this turn of events did not bode well. Half of the courts did regain playable status quicker than expected, and since only doubles was on tap for the day, double banking solved much of the problem. Around mid-day, the grounds grew actually brought out a pump, dug a hole in the still unplayable areas and regained control of the entire facility. Play was completed almost on time as the showers began to arrive late in the day.
Of course, while the water issues of Thursday were problematic, they were nothing compared to the impossible conditions the players found Friday morning. Inches of rain had fallen overnight, and with this water having nowhere to run to, the courts looked more like a majestic lake. To make matters worse, several more inches were expected and by 10 AM the play for the day (seven rounds of singles), as well as the lunch and the Toast & Tally, were canceled. Participants either went bowling, museum hopping, back to work or back to sleep. The solution, of course, was simple: all of Friday’s matches would be played Saturday and all of Saturday’s matches canceled. That is, if the courts were playable come Saturday.
As luck would have it, while rain did fall throughout most of Friday and the night, by the morning the courts did prove to be soggy but playable. Scattered showers emerged, thus threatening the risk of instant flooding, and heavy wind did create an acorn bombardment, but play was completed just in time for everyone to make it to the Player’s Dinner (Trattoria Dell’Arte) that night. The bar bill, as expected, was phenomenal.
Given the limited number of matches each participant had played till now, Sunday’s schedule, as well, was revamped, thus allowing more players into the single-elimination Playoffs. The lawns, of course, had not been mowed for days and sprinkles still came and went, yet despite these little nuances, those still in competition were happy to simply have lawns to play upon. And play there was …
In the Championship Flight Singles, young Frank Hentic (0) took no time in defeating the top ranked player in the country, Doug Grimsley (-3 now!), in a 26-3 match. Frank had reached the Finals with a 16-11 victory over the popular John Young III (.5) and a clutch 21-20 victory over Rich Curtis (-1). Doug had cruised through the unpredictable Doug Moore (1.5) 26-4, who had previously surprised Norris Settlemyre (-1.5) with an 11-9 score. Tim Rapuano (4) looked much the best in the First Flight with victories over Sara Low (6), George Blake (3) and eventually the steady Don Heerens (2.5) with an 18-14 Finals score. Charles Gilmarten (a 7 then but who knows what now) continued his quick climb up the handicap ladder by defeating Preston Stuart (7) 24-4 in the Second Flight … quite impressive indeed! Dennis Hough (10) took honors in the well-contested Third Flight with a nice 15-11 victory over Blair Stuart (11), Helga Seele (11) and Peter Timmins (11) tying for Third Place.
In Doubles action, the last-seeded team of Doug Grimsley-Stephanie Paduano defeated defending champions Rich Curtis-John Young III (16-11) and continued their winning ways in the Finals with a win over Frank Hentic-Doug Moore (18-9). Preston Stuart-Charles Gilmarten, the two Second Flight Singles Finalists, captured the First Flight Doubles by defeating John Woodside-Rebeca Bergofsky (18-11). Templeton Peck-Helga Seele won Second Flight honors with a smooth 13-8 victory over Dennis Hough-Ryan Thompson.
In general, the entire Osborn Cup has always thrived on the unpredictable. And this year was certainly no different, even with everyone worrying now about that new cloud fighting its way through the skyline. But some things do never change. George Blake is always there at 6:45 to help set up the courts, rain or shine. Norris Settlemyre is always there with a bucket of sand, always trying to make the playing conditions as best as possible no matter what the weather forecast might say. Doug Moore and Sara Low are always an earshot away to make certain that everyone is informed about not only what will happen, but also how to deal with it should it not.
As an afterthought … those that play in New York are always a special group. Throughout all of the real and potential chaos, the participants of this event never complained, but laughed at the strange little detours that affected this year’s Osborn Cup. And that rain which finally went away long enough for us all to finish? Well, it moved into areas that certainly affected my flight back to sunny Florida, thus allowing me the chance to spend a glorious 15 hours at La Guardia Airport. But The City doesn’t really ever sleep, and neither did I … I had a great time with some great people and knew I would get home eventually … a few altered hours just gives one the time to realize how lucky we all are.