Rairigh’s knees and the new guy steal the weekend

In their season opener at Hunter’s Green, the two-time defending champ Green Machine opened their bid for a third straight sectional appearance with a 3-0 win over the Tampa Palms fusion.

The match-up marked the return of Patrick Rairigh’s knees, which had been missing since 1998. The knees held up over three sets and Rairigh walked off the court without limping.


“We’ve never been happier,” said Patrick Rairigh’s knees after his return the courts this weekend.

“I thought we worked well together,” the left knee said, motioning to the right knee. “I mean, just to be able to show up and not be put behind bars, the freedom was just so uplifting.”

Rairigh showed the same strokes that made him one of the club’s best 3.5s. His forehand was feathery, his backhand decisive and incisive, his drop shot sweet like honey buttery, and his serve….okay, well, there is still some work to be done.


Patrick Rairigh tore his ACL’s at age 2, and this 1931 picture shows him wearing his first knee braces. (Photo: Courtesy of Rairigh family)

“Let me tell you something, when I came back from injury, and called out John Slatniske, told Cotey I was going to smoke him in 2, and yelled across the courts at Erik and told him his butt was mine, I wasn’t kidding,” said Rairigh. “Okay, well, maybe the stuff I said to Erik I was just kidding. But those other two are Nos. 1 and 2 on my hit list. Today was just the start.”

Green Machine captain John Cotey wasted no time putting Rairigh into the fire, throwing him in at line 1.

At line 2, Erik Hajek and Andy Ritter looked like they were in midseason former with a 6-0, 6-2. At line 3, Cotey played with Ron Reiter, the first new member to the team in two years, and cruised to a 6-2, 6-3.

Reiter showed off what is already one of the team’s best backhands, which may not be saying much on a team with Cotey and John Slatniske, but it was a solid, well-placed weapon all match, setting up his partner at the net on a number of occasions.

He was also strong at the net, and should be a welcome addition to a team that is 3-3 at sectionals the past two seasons.


All in all, an impressive debut.


The 7.0 mixed squad picked up their second straight win heading into the July 9 showdown with arch-rival Brandon, beating the Fighting Spirakises 3-0 on Sunday.


Erik Hajek won both his matches this weekend by a 24-3 margin, but remains most proud of the bruise he left on Stephen Hunter’s thigh.

The much-improved Spirakises gave the Green Machine fits at lines 2 and 3.

At line 2, Stephen Hunter and Joy (And Pain. Sunshine And Rain.) Alee kept Cotey and Julie Sakre on their toes before falling 6-3, 6-4, and Spirakis and Hann almost sunk Slatniske and Marisol Casablanca (in her Green Machine debut) but came up short 6-3, 7-5.

At No. 1, Hajek and Sharon Patterson rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 win, meaning in two matches this weekend, Hajek won twice by a 24-3 differential.

Show off.


THE 6.5 “Team With No Name Because We Are Too Cool For A Name”, or TWNNBWATCFAM, improved to 3-0 Saturday by dominating Harbour Island on Saturday.

giphy-3In a match that inexplicably took 5 hours, Cherie Smith and Cynthia Cooley won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1, while Trina Hoyrod and Casablanca won at No. 2 by a 6-2, 6-2 score.

At at No. 3, Spirakis and Cheryl Reilly won 6-2, 7-5.

The TWNNBWATCFAM is now 8-1 in individual wins, and only lost 40 games all season. With just three matches to play and as the only undefeated team remaining, the TWNNBWATCFAM is quickly closing in on a second straight sectional appearance.




About johncotey

John was a sportswriter and columnist for the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Times for 25 years, before being pushed from the Titantic, and hopes all of you non-subscribers are happy reading your free news on the internets while his journalism brethren suffer. Not that he's not bitter or anything. His real true joys, however, are his wife, kids and tennis, though not necessarily in that order. Unless his wife is reading this. Then DEFINITELY in that order.
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