By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Ty Couillard had never played in the American Heart Association tournament before, but after Thursday's result there's a good chance he'll keep coming back.
Couillard, of Stephens City, beat Andrew Wetzel, 6-0, 6-4 to win the men's singles title at the New Market Park.
Couillard said he heard about the tournament from Jason Robertson, who works at Frederick County Parks and Recreation, and decided to enter in the 55-and-over event. However, there weren't enough participants for that event so the only option was to play in the Open Men's singles event. Couillard said he plays in a league at Fairfax Racquet Club in Fairfax.
"I don't play in a lot of tournaments, but I like to play in a few just to see how I do," Couillard said.
Couillard, is originally from Wisconsin, and played tennis for NCAA Division III University of Wisconsin-Stout. He said he's been playing since he was 12, and was a club tennis pro in Indiana, Ohio and California.
Couillard, 54, said he was a little worried playing someone as young as Wetzel in the heat.
"He was a lot younger and quicker, so I wanted to get into the net a lot more, but I wasn't able to today," Couillard said.
Wetzel, a Central graduate and current Central boys tennis coach, was battling a shoulder injury, and said he was having a lot of trouble with his serve.
"I felt like I was battling my body as much as my opponent today," Wetzel said. "I got up today and my shoulder was really sore. I wasn't sure how effective my serve was going to be, so most of the time I was just hitting second serves. If I got behind in a game, I tried to serve a little harder."
Couillard had little trouble in taking the first set in less than 30 minutes, but Wetzel came back in the second set. Wetzel got down an early break, but rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the second set.
Wetzel said he was beaten 6-0, 6-0 in a tournament in Harrisonburg earlier this summer, and was determined not to let history repeat itself.
"I just told myself that is not happening again," Wetzel said. "I knew I had to keep fighting, and try to keep working my way back into the match."
Couillard responded by winning three consecutive games to take a 5-3 lead, and closed out the one-hour, five-minute match with a service winner.
"I knew he wasn't feeling his best, so I was just trying to get more balls in, but that could have backfired on me," Couillard said. "If we would've went to a third set, I think I would've been in trouble."
The tournament has been going all week, with the open women's singles, open mixed doubles and open women's doubles finals scheduled for today or Saturday. The tournament did not take place last year, but has been going on for a number of years and until recently was always a big draw in the area.
Wetzel was scheduled to play in the men's doubles event later Thursday with recent Central graduate Jesse Canzurlo. Wetzel said he loves playing in the tournament.
"It's just something that I grew up playing in," Wetzel said. "I think the last time I played in it was 2007, with [Central graduate and current Ferrum coach] Jordan Robinson. That was a year or two after I graduated high school. I tried to get a lot of my [Central] players to participate in it. It's always been a great tournament.
"It's a lot of fun."