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Dharme defeats last year’s champion to win Greenfield tournament

July 14, 2009

A year passed, but it was deja vu all over again.

Just as they did in 2008, Eric Groncki and Chandrakant Dharme advanced through the early rounds of the Greenfield Parks and Recreation adult tennis tournament and squared off in the championship match at Whitnall High School.

But the script, however, had a different ending during last Saturday’s final.

Groncki, 34, who did not drop a set to win last year’s tournament at Greenfield High School, had to overcome a three-set quarterfinal match as well as a 4-0 deficit in the first set of the semifinals to punch his return ticket to the finals.

Dharme, on the other hand, pulled out a tense 6-4, 6-4 victory over Paddy Nanda - of Pewaukee - to set up a rematch with Groncki after going untouched in his first two matches.

Since Dharme fell to Groncki, 6-4, 6-0 in last year’s title match, he was looking forward to the contest.

And it’s why the 34-year old Indian born participant felt a sense of relief and satisfaction after dethroning Groncki, 6-4, 6-4 in a tight 75-minute match.

“It was a grueling tournament and a battle throughout the four rounds,” Dharme said.

Dharme was down 3-0 in the second set before winning six of the final seven games to claim the top prize. He controlled the net throughout and kept Groncki searching for answers in his quest to win in back-to-back years.

“It was a long day, but it was a lot of fun, and the competition was great,” Dharme said with a smile. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Nanda, who scratched and clawed to win his first two matches in the double-elimination tournament, finished in third place after Khiem Ngyuen, 40, retired in the semifinals against Groncki.

Ngyuen – captured third place in 2007 - had to bow out due to severe cramping in his legs at the start of the second set in his third match of the day.

In addition to strong competition in the championship round, the consolation champion was not decided without drama.

While Maurice Perry, of Milwaukee, had a match point in the opening round with Scott Yakovich before falling in the third set, he did not lose again despite being pushed to the limit in his final two matches.

Mark Kong, a Glendale resident, who won one of his three matches, enjoyed playing with a strong field of participants - ranging from Belgium, Pewaukee, Germantown, Milwaukee and Greenfield.

And Kong, 34, said he likes the direction the tournament is heading.

“This is going to become bigger in the coming years,” Kong said. “The tournament is building its own character and is getting a great reputation.”

Indeed, the tournament has become a staple in the heart of the summer after its rebirth in 2007.

Despite having 12 participants in the inaugural event two years ago, numbers dipped to nine in 2008, before elevating to 17 this year.

So even though Kong was new to the tournament, he, like many of the other participants, who play year-round in United States Tennis Association leagues, didn’t hesitant when asked what his plans were for next July.

“It was fun to be a part of something like this,” Kong said. “There were a lot of tense matches, because of the amount of competitors. It was definitely an inviting atmosphere and an event I want to come back to.”

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