TEWKSBURY — The third best showing from a local resident at last weekend’s 9th Annual Tewksbury Open tennis tournament came from Mark Heichman, a veteran player in local tennis circles.
In his fifth year competing in the Open, Heichman reached the semifinals in both the Heichman got off to a great start in the Men’s B Singles, dominating his first round opponent in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
In the semifinals on Sunday, Heichman went up against a formidable player in Sam Stallings, who had double-bageled his first round opponent, 6-0, 6-0.
Heichman held his own in the first set but eventually Stallings prevailed, 7-5.
“I played a college kid and he just wore me out,” said Heichman, on his singles opponent, Stallings. “It was a good match — I lost the first set, 7-5 - but I had three set points and he just did a little better than me.”
Stallings carried the momentum forward, and under the increasingly hot conditions, put Heichman away in the second set, 6-1.
“He had young legs,” said Heichman, of Stallings. “That makes a big difference running things down.”
Stallings would go on to lose to Michael Hanna in the final in a tiebreaker, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6.
In the Men’s B Doubles, Heichman teamed with Mark Cusolito of Reading for a solid run through the draw.
Heichman, who played his high school tennis at Stoneham High, and Cusolito, a Reading High captain just five years ago, took care of business in their first round match, 6-1, 6-3.
The duo then came up against Tewksbury High boys’ coach Rick Keene and his partner, Roland Gingras, in the semifinals. Heichman has competed with Keene many times in recent years so the match had a more friendly tone to it.
Heichman and Cusolito got off to a great start, taking the first set, 6-1, and then ran into trouble in the second, losing it, 6-3.
“I played a lot worse in the second set and so did he,” said Cusolito, of the doubles semifinal.
Keene and Gingras maintained momentum into the tiebreaker, and captured the match, 1-6, 6-3, 10-4.
“We did well the first set,” said Heichman. “Just too many errors in the second set.”
Keene and Gingras would follow a similar trek in the final, losing the first set and winning the second, but this time they lost the tiebreaker and the match, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6.
This is Heichman’s fifth year competing in the Tewksbury Open and is a former champion in doubles.
“Usually I make it to Sunday,” said Heichman. “Usually they have a couple ringers in here.”
That may have been the case again this year, but Heichman experienced some success and made his opponents work hard in the two losses.
“It was good, it was fun,” said Heichman, of his Tewksbury Open experience. “I played four matches and it was fun. It was good exercise. Now I’m going to go home and relax and go in the pool.”
Like many of this year’s participants, Heichman is already looking forward to competing again, next year.