The franchise that started the Green Machine dynasty in 2014 is headed back to sectionals after a a 2-1 win over Tampa Palms Saturday afternoon.
The men’s 6.5 combo team set off a raucous celebration by taking a big 6-2, 6-1 victory at line 2 behind Gorgeous Georges Kaufmann and Erik “Big Bear” Hajek.
The other victory came via forfeit on line 3. At line 1, captain John Cotey and Clayton Smith, making his tennis debut, dropped a 6-2, 6-2 decision.
In a 7-match season, the Green Machine is now 4-0 and advance to the sectionals Jan. 5-7 at the new USTA Tennis Center in Lake Nona. It will be the team’s third straight trip, after going a combined 3-3 at the 2015 and 2016 sectionals.
“When me, Erik, John Slatniske and J.R. Daws started this in 2014, we were just four country boys who couldn’t tell the difference between a tennis racquet and a cob of corn,” said Cotey, 11-time USTA Regional Captain of the Year and the Universe. “But we worked hard, drank a lot of beer and just let our natural greatness rise to the surface. Does playing in a two-team league against a great bunch of guys who just have trouble fielding three lines every week help? Not at all. It’s all greatness rising to the surface.”
FUN FACT: In July, Erik is 4-0 and has won 48 of 62 games.
6.5 Women: The Purple Machine, as they have been affectionately dubbed, beat Carrollwood 2-1 Saturday morning to improve to 4-0, with just two matches remaining.
The ladies got a win from Laura Baker and Julie Sack-Ray, 6-0, 6-3, and a forfeiting line to keep a strong hold on first-place. The ladies still have matches with Riverhills (2-2) and the other Hunter’s Green team (1-2) to complete, but look more and more like they will be going back to 6.5 sectionals for the second straight season.
7 mixed: Green Machine M7, the mixed 7.0 team, took it to Harbour Island Sunday morning, winning 3-0 at Da Club.
The Green Machine moved into sole possession of first-place with the win, moving past idle Brandon.
The Green Machine has a big edge in the breaker race in every category, with terrific numbers in lines won (13), sets lost (5) and games lost (92). Remarkably, since season-opening 2-1 loss to West Meadows, the Green Machine has reeled off 4 straight 3-0 wins, the longest streak in franchise history. Last season, when the over-40 mixed team went to sectionals, it only won twice by 3-0 scores.
The Green Machine will be looking to avenge its only loss this weekend at West Meadows, which is also on a four-match winning streak after losing their first two matches.
On Sunday, Cotey and Nini Torres set the tone with a dominating 6-0, 6-3 win.
“I was just happy to beat Hajek off the court,” Cotey said, after poaching a shot at the net to end the match just a mere second or two before the Hajek finished up. “I’m so sick of him playing quick matches, while I’m out there struggling and battling and sweating and giving it my all. To look over and see him drying off while I’m still in the first set, well, it can really get to you.”
At line 3, Hajek and Marisa Martinez won 6-2, 6-3, as Martinez made her return from a two-week European cruise, which included a stop in Turkey, just a week before the failed coup this weekend. Coincidence? Hmmmm….Martinez seemed a little out of it, ironically like someone trying to focus on a tennis match after organizing a coup a week ago only to see it fail.
“Yani, biz sadece guzel bir aile tatili zevk, John, dogru degildir,” Martinez said. “Hepsi varsayimdir.”
At line 1, Tom Layton and Cherie Smith turned in the performance of the day, pulling out a 6-4, 7-5 win that included Layton tearing a calf muscle, pulling a hip flexor, twisting a knee and suffering 13 cramps and one hamstring contusion.
“Just the usual,” said Layton. “Though I’m pretty sure it was only 12 cramps. I think you are confusing that other cramp with my achilles tendinitis inflammation.”
FUN FACT: The 3.0 women on the Green Machine mixed team have never lost a regular season match. Sunday’s wins give the 3.0 ladies a 15-0 record in two seasons, including 3-0 playing with 3.5 players. Marisa is now 8-0, Cherie is 4-0 and Julie Sakre is 3-0. (And yes, I realize this also makes our 4.0 players undefeated as well…)