TEWKSBURY — Among the many local residents who took part in the 9th Annual Tewksbury Open, Jaryd Palmer was one of the two tennis players to make it to the finals.
Palmer and non-resident Deb Donovan-Perez advanced to the Mixed B Doubles final before falling to champions Ben Simpson and Emily Simpson, 6-2, 6-3.
While often times mixed doubles partners are spouses or siblings, or members of the same tennis club, Palmer and Donovan-Perez are co-workers. This was their first attempt as tennis partners and they are already looking forward.
“We’re going to come back, next year,” said Palmer, who like a lot of participants, is looking ahead to seeing what the 10th Tewksbury Open holds in store. “We’re both co-workers in Methuen (Timiny Elementary) as teachers. I knew this tournament was coming up, I knew she played tennis, so I said, ‘Deb, let’s do it.’ And here we are with our medals.”
The Mixed B Doubles was among the largest draws, so Palmer and Donovan-Perez had a lot of work to do to get as far as they ended up.
Palmer and Donovan-Perez got a couple confidence boosters in the first two rounds, winning each in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4 in the first one, and 6-4, 6-3 in the second round on Saturday.
Sunday turned out to be the hottest day of the tournament as well as when the most challenging matches are to be played in the semifinals and final.
Palmer and Donovan-Perez lost the first set in the semifinals, 6-2, their first taste of adversity in the tournament. They rallied in the second set to win 7-5, before taking the tiebreaker, 10-3.
“Our match this morning (semifinal), neither of us thought we were going to win,” said Palmer. “But we came back after losing the first set, won the second set and won the tiebreak. Determination and teamwork was what got us through.”
The dynamic duo met their match in the finals, as Ben Simpson and Emily Simpson would both eventually walk away with two first-place medals in the tournament for their doubles play.
Simpson and Simpson held a distinct edge in the first set, and then overcame more resistance in the second to get the straight set win.
“In this last match the heat got to us,” said Palmer, who also played in a men’s doubles match prior to the mixed doubles final. “It was a long weekend for both of us. A lot of tennis to be played and we broke down.”
Palmer and Donovan-Perez started to regain their confidence in the second set, but could not overcome the skills of their opponents.
“Our second set was better but Ben has a great serve and really controls it well,” said Palmer. “Mentally you get down in the dumps, which is unfortunate, but overall we had a blast.”
Palmer and his Mens B Doubles partner had to play a preliminary round match just to get into the main draw. They won that match in a tiebreaker, 10-6, before getting a walkover into the semifinals. In the semifinals, the pair fell to eventual champions Jim Cranston and Ben Simpson, 6-1, 6-1.
“This is the first time me and Deb have ever played together, our first tournament,” said Palmer. “It was awesome. We got to the finals, unfortunately we lost in the finals, but we made it farther than we thought.”
Palmer and Donovan-Perez will continue to work on their game and come back next year with winning a title on their minds.