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How Muny tennis could return to its glory days

Rick Infanti has been the head tennis professional at the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club for many years. He will be this year’s tournament director in charge of running the Muny Tennis Championships that will run from July 12-22 at the Delaware Park tennis courts.

Recently, Infanti was talking with Rich Abbott and Tom LaPenna; both of whom had run the Muny tournament in the past and had done an outstanding job, often attracting 300 to 400 participants. As the three gentlemen talked they unanimously agreed on how great the tournament used to be and their desire to return it to its former glory.

Both LaPenna and Abbott feel that Infanti is the right choice to run the tournament. Why? He has had an outstanding record as a tournament tennis player, tennis professional and running many successful tennis tournaments.

One of the highlights of the tournament has always been a tennis party. Infanti has some interesting ideas about making the event even better. He also wants to bring entry numbers back to past levels and will make sure that everybody knows their starting times.

Infanti will also be honoring Al Litto, who passed away recently. Litto ran the Muny tournament for 12 years and did an outstanding job. He was instrumental in getting Buffalo children rackets to play with and could be seen on the Delaware Park courts teaching players of all levels, regardless of their age. He was a beloved figure and is greatly missed by the many players who thought so highly of him.

Muny tennis history

Most local tennis players are not aware that the Buffalo Muny Tennis Championships is one of the longest ongoing tennis tournaments in the United States. The first Muny tournament was held 95 years ago. Early tournaments would be divided into four sections (east, west, south, and north) in Buffalo. Each section would always have well over 100 players competing in both singles and doubles. The finalists in singles and doubles from each area would meet in a finals tournament at the Delaware Park tennis courts to determine the city singles and doubles champions.

Muny superlatives

  •  Lou Schaefer, 15-time city doubles champion.
  •  Ethel Marshall, 13-time city singles champion, 16-time city doubles champion with Bea Massman.
  •  Pat Lord, seven-time city singles champion.
  • Rev. Bob Hetherington, six-time Muny singles champion.
  • Rev. Bob Hetherington and Charlie Garfinkel, two-time National Public Parks Muny open doubles champions.
  • Dirk Dugan and Chris Sadkowski, National Public Parks Muny open doubles champions.
  • Clay Hamlin, three-time singles champion.
  • Gus Franczyk,  five-time singles champion
  •  Joe Turski, five-time singles champion
  •  Carol Kraus, five-time city singles champion.
  • Jimmy Arias, who attained a world ranking of No.  5,  never won a Muny singles or doubles championship. Why? He was only 11 or 12 the only time he played in the tournament.

Tournament Tips

Be sure that you know your starting times and arrive at the tournament site at least 15 minutes before you are to commence play. Everyone must realize that matches could go longer than scheduled, such as a three set match. Therefore, players must have patience if they have to wait longer than usual.

When players enter a tournament they should follow the schedule as it is set up. For instance, you might play your first match and win. You are then scheduled to play three days later. If you have a conflict, let the tournament director know before the tournament begins and he will try to accommodate you if possible. Be sure to bring plenty of water to drink during the matches and have at least two racquets with you.  If a string breaks on your racquet and you don’t have a second one you will have a tough time winning a match.

When your opponent calls a shot out that you think is in please accept his or her call as most players will not intentionally make a bad call. Competitors should enter events that are in their appropriate playing levels. However, final placement in the draw is left to the discretion of the tournament director.

Registration

To register for the tournament go to or tennislink.usta.com/tournaments.org or email BstcRick@aol.com.

Days and starting times will be posted online and in the Buffalo News each day of the tournament.

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