The Ben Hofling Captaincy has to be one of the most unique the NSC has seen. His years of experience playing and volunteering in tennis, and his passion for soccer, combined to start the first ever Soccer Tennis Open in the office. 11 teams were drawn from the hat and the tournament kicked off!
Six out of the eleven teams were placed in the first round, while the other five had to wait until the next day to start their championship run. The first game saw the all-female Hat-Trick Heroes (Steph Jacobson and Larissa Oprysk) against the promising Club 21 of Kevin Saad and Marques Dixon. Larissa had an awesome shot directly to the corner, while Marques had an unreal backheel safe. In the end, Hat-Trick Heroes emerged as the winners with a score of 21-18.
The next game saw King Futema, the team of Cooper King and Rodrigo Futema, and Southern Charm (Spencer Boyd and Lucy Sadtler) in their debuts. The game started with several unforced errors, but as the players got more comfortable the pace started to pick up. The game came to a close end, which saw King Futema win by a three point margin.
Finally, the all intern squad named INTERNal Revenue (Jose Alvarado and Brock Wright) was battling against a Session I trainee and Session XIX trainee. The One-19ers, formed by Mel Seiser and Saxon Graham, dominated most of the points and seemed to have the interns in control. Then again, as the game went by Jose and Brock became more confident, took more risks and had great rallies with their serves. The final score favored INTERNal Revenue 21-17, with 7 unanswered points to end it.
The second round was marked by several court changes between games, but ultimately diversified the playing tactics and skills of the players. John Stamos (John Elliano and Neyland Hopkins) played against Ben Squared (Ben Pelton and Ben Hofling) in a fight for a semifinal spot. Both teams inaugurated the outside court, which featured narrower sides and a higher net. This led to a very erratic start by both teams, but ultimately was a back and forth game. When the game was close to the end John and Neyland looked at a picture of John Stamos to inspire a 21-17 win.
As the day went by King Futema faced a completely unknown team. Vent FC, with powerhouse Brent Rosendall and nifty Vincent Villarreal seemed to be the perfect combination of power and speed. With many hard hits and dominance in the net Vent FC did not let King Futema any chance to step over the baseline. The final score of 21-9 was a statement of how Vent FC came to take no prisoners.
Crowd favorites Hat-Trick Heroes now were up against the Brain Sharks, made by Lisa Welch and Drew Butler. Drew took over the net while Lisa was taking care of any balls that went over Drew. Larissa and Steph had a good dynamic which had been rehearsed in the first round, while the Brain Sharks were trying it out for the first time. When the game was 19-18 with the Hat-Trick Heroes up, Steph saved a powerful shot from Drew, touched it right up and headed it backwards for a winner. The final score was of 21-18.
To finish the second day, the intern team had to battle against the Last Of the Athletans, with fellow intern Dan Moren and trainee Joe Jackson. The main court was opened, the widest of the four available courts. A close game was then controlled by the interns, who brought Joe and Dan to a 18-11 deficit. With the game clearly in their grasp Jose and Brock got a taste of their own medicine, and couldn’t control Joe’s powerful deep serve. The tables were turned and the Last of the Athletans survived extinction with a 21-18 win.
With the semifinals underway in the outside court there was a lot to gain and not much to lose. Hat-Trick Heroes were aiming to string their third straight win, but John Stamos made it very difficult at the start of the game. Then again, Steph and Larissa found the correct placement before Neyland and John did, bringing the game to a 17-10 advantage. John Stamos then starting to come back with a five-point rally, but ultimately overshot the ball twice and buried their aspirations with a 21-15 loss.
On the other side of the bracket the powerful Vent FC was facing the Athletans, but had to do so in the smallest court yet. The dimensions of the court demanded a very aggressive strategy from both teams, as there was little space to recover any ball before its second bounce. Vent FC used Brent’s power and Vincent’s reaction to quickly overpower the Athletans. Towards the end of the game the Athletans showed a glimpse of the fighting spirit that brought them back their previous game, but ultimately fell 21-16.
Tensions were high, and the two teams in the finals had both made strong statements as to why to win the first NSC Open. Vent FC had proven to be an offense-driven team which gave little space for the other teams to react, but had a highly strategical team on the other side. We could recount the happening of the game, but we would rather show you the highlight reel.
Vent FC was enjoying the high life for a couple of days, but then two new contenders approached them for a take at their title. These contenders were none other than big boss Bryant Pfeiffer and Minnesota United FC player Jamie Watson. Jamie was in the final stages of his recovery period, and we cannot imagine how he would’ve done if he was at his 100%!
The game was fairly balanced, and both teams had a similar dynamic of an all-out-attack and power shots. Jamie’s control and powerful strikes towards the ground were complemented by Bryant’s setups and overall teamwork. On the other hand the chemistry between Brent and Vincent couldn’t have been better, and the many games together were paying off.
In the end, the champions were dethroned after the game had to be decided by a 2 point differential once both teams got to 20 points. The final score of 22-20 was the perfect ending to a game defined by one point.