It was Baylor versus McCallie in the final of the oldest age division of the mammoth McCallie John Strang Memorial junior tennis tournament Monday afternoon at the Champions Club.
Baylor boarder Anderson Scarpa pulled out a 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 victory over Chattanoogan Bobby Brouner in the continuing dogfight series between the prep powers' No. 1 singles players. On an unseasonably warm day, both were struggling with physical issues by the end.
Brouner was the TSSAA Division II-AA state runner-up last spring and was one of the Boys' 18s 5 seeds for this tournament directed by his McCallie coach, Eric Voges. Scarpa, great-nephew of Baylor tennis director Ned Caswell's old Furman coach, was the No. 2 seed.
"Every time they play, it's a grinder," Voges said.
Scarpa, who lives in Sullivan's Island, S.C., near Charleston, jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first set of the final and hung on for the 7-5 win. Then Brouner won 6-1 in a set that was closer than that score, with several long games, and Scarpa developed cramps in his shoulder, requiring a visit from on-site athletic trainer Casey Riley.
After the Baylor player took the maximum break time before the third set, Brouner won the first point but rolled his ankle in the process. Riley checked him out once and then returned and taped it.
"They were limping to the finish," Caswell said. "It was an epic first set and then the level of play went down but the intensity remained high. In the third set it was a matter of who could gut it out. But the sportsmanship was perfect all the way.
"Every one of their matches is a battle," Caswell added. "Bobby Brouner is difficult to beat. He never gives up."
Scarpa agreed with that.
"I've never had an easy match against him. He's a really tough player, and I like Bobby. He's a really good kid," Scarpa said. "The back of my shoulder started cramping up and I was feeling kind of drained. But somehow I won that third set."
Brouner admitted it "was pretty painful to move" on the turned ankle but said "it was OK to play on it." Scarpa, he said, "is always tough to win points against. My semifinal [against McClain Kessler of Calhoun, Ga.] was really tough, too. He wasn't missing at all, and I was having to play pretty well and finish points at the net. I don't always play at the net."
This year's 10-division tournament had all-time high of 444 boys and girls from throughout the South playing singles at Champions, McCallie, Baylor, GPS, Warner Park and the Brainerd recreation complex.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.