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Two battles end tourney

The last time Gil Schuerholz (Ellicott City, Md.) and Andy Stoner (Cave Creek, Ariz.) played doubles tennis together in a national competition was 1993 and they won. Fifteen years later, they came together on the court once again and again won a national title in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Men’s 45 Indoor Championship held last week at the Park City Racquet Club.

Schuerholz and Stoner became friends when they traveled together on the national circuit in 1989 and 1990. Stoner got back in touch with Schuerholz this year and asked him if wanted to compete together again. Schuerholz said yes."

"I try to only play with guys I honestly believe I can win with," Stoner said.

Schuerholz said that people have called them "thunder and lightning" because they pack such a powerful punch together with their complementing talents. The six-foot three-inch Schuerholz provides a thunderously powerful serve and the shorter and shiftier Stoner has lightning-quick speed that makes him an ideal return man.

"We’re a good combination," Schuerholz said. "Strength and quickness it gives a nice mix."

The two took on Douglas Elly (Springfield, Mo.) and Ken White (Buffalo, N.Y.) on Friday afternoon in a hard-fought three-set match. Stoner, who had already played in the singles finals that morning, and Schuerholz dominated the first set, winning 6-1 and taking advantage of White and Elly, who struggled to find a rhythm. But it was a different story in the second set. Elly, who has one of the fastest serves in his age bracket, and White came back to win the second set 6-4.

"They came on in the second set," Stoner said.

The battle continued into the third set, where the teams exchanged the lead before Schuerholz and Stoner’s power and quickness seemed too much for the other pair to handle as they won 6-4.

"I think our movement at the net gave us the edge," Stoner said. "It doesn’t hurt when you play with a big, tall guy either."

Schuerholz was also quick to pile the praise on Stoner.

"He’s the best returner out here," he said. "I only need to win the point once."

Earlier in the day, Val Wilder (Forth Worth, Texas) defeated Stoner in singles in another three-set competition 6-0, 6-7 6-3. Fans filled up the bleachers for the morning singles final and watched Stoner come back in the second set before losing in the tiebreaker.

"I was in the game against Wilder," Stoner said. "He’s just a tough player."

According to tournament director and Racquet Club co-head pro Laurie Lambert, this was the last national competition for the year, so all of the men were focused on getting as many points possible to increase their end-of the-year ranking.

This was Stoner’s first gold ball (first place) after taking home the silver ball (second place) in the last four national tourneys he entered.

"I would have been a bridesmaid five times," Stoner said, shaking his head. "It was good to win one."


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