An “Old Tiger” was on the loose at the weekend Michelob Light Ashland City Championships.
Fernando Pavez, 47, proved there’s more left in his tennis tank by winning two doubles titles and just missing out on a third final.
Sunday, Pavez captured the Mixed Open doubles championship with Russell sophomore Kierstin Hensley and later teamed with Lipscomb University grad Chad Pierron of Wheelersburg to take the top spot in Men’s Open doubles.
“Not bad for an old man, an old tiger,” the fun-loving Pavez said between matches Sunday at the Ashland Tennis.
Players could enter as many as three events in the 27th annual tournament. Pavez opted for the max, and often exhibited the intensity of a big cat on the hunt.
The No. 2 seed in Men’s Open singles won his quarterfinal match convincingly before coming up short Saturday against Jamey Sellars in a third-set tiebreaker.
Pavez, a 10-year area teaching pro now based in Portsmouth, came into the weekend with a goal of reaching all three finals.
“Winning two out of three, I’ll take that,” he said with a smile.
Pavez and Pierron prevailed in a tight second set of the Men’s Open doubles final to defeat Tom Collins and Brian Delcotto 6-1, 7-5.
“Those guys can play, they’ve been around the block,” Pavez said. “Chad was getting tired. I was getting tired. There were a lot of matches the last three days.”
Pavez and Pierron stuck with their strategy of staying on the offensive, not allowing their opponents to get comfortable.
“There’s not much rallying with us, it’s mostly power shots,” said Pavez, pausing to savor the moment. “I know all these kids. I’m glad they think it’s fun to play with me. That’s awesome to me.”
In the Mixed Open doubles title match, Pavez and Hensley covered the court well for a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pierron and his sister, Courtney, a member of the University of Charleston team.
“It’s nice,” Pavez said. “I taught Kierstin how to play and now we won a tournament together. That’s the full circle. I think we were pretty consistent and aggressive.”
Hensley’s sister, Kelsey, played No. 1 singles for UC last season.
“It’s funny, Courtney was my sister’s roommate in college,” said Kierstin, who was happy to have Kelsey in attendance at the tennis center.
“I really like it when she’s here,” Kierstin said. “Growing up, Kelsey played with me. Now she can watch me.”
Pavez and Kierstin Hensley began working together on the tennis court a few years back at Bellefonte Country Club.
“I was the first student he gave lessons to at the country club,” Hensley said. “After that, we were friends.”
They played together in last year’s City Championships.
“We lost in the finals,” Pavez said. “Right then, we said we’re going to come back and pull it off next time, and we did.”
Hensley’s tennis game remains on the rise. She earned All-State high school honors with doubles partner Maci Ferguson this spring by advancing to the semifinals at the University of Kentucky.
“Kierstin is having a very good year,” Pavez said. “You can see she’s going to continue to be strong.”
Hensley and Ferguson followed up their recent Ryan Holder State Closed doubles championship (16s) by winning Sunday’s Women’s Open title. They beat two other local juniors — Lauren Fazenbaker and Alyson Johnson — 6-0, 6-0.
Ferguson was Girls 14s singles champion at the Holder tournament in a 29-player field.
“Off the court we are best friends,” Hensley said. “We have that type chemistry between us. If I can’t get a ball, I feel she is going to be there.”
In a twist, James Kent won the Men’s Open singles crown.
Seven-time defending champion Patrick Walker of Huntington entered the tournament, but had to back out late because of another commitment.
His longtime rival in West Virginia, James Kent, 34, replaced Walker in the field and played the part well.
After beating Ashland junior players Robby Krick (6-0, 6-0) and Robby Berry (6-0, 6-3) in the first two rounds, Kent finished it off with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Sellars, Ashland Blazer’s girls tennis coach who hadn’t played singles in a competitive event since wrapping up his Eastern Kentucky University career in 1999.
“Kent has a big serve, plus he’s solid all around,” Sellars said. “When I tried to go in, he just hit great passing shots. I knew I couldn’t rally with him. I was not in shape to play long points.”
Sellars only entered at the urging of his 9-year-old son, Ethan.
“He’s been around tennis a lot and heard players like Fazenbaker and Luke Vincent talking about being in the tournament,” Sellars said. “I kind of signed up late.”
Sellars, who turns 36 next month, said he wasn’t worried about his timing on the court. He’s been helping out Eddie Sizemore and Chris Meinfelter in an advanced junior clinic at the tennis center.
Sellars did have concern about conditioning, but he made it through tough indoor matches in getting past Delcotto (6-4, 7-5) and Pavez (6-1, 3-6, 1-0).
“Indoors, my serve and being able to come behind it helped me,” Sellars said. “Outdoors, it plays a little slower. All in all, I had a lot of fun.”
Men’s 8.0 doubles had the most entries with nine. Top-seeded Delcotto and Michael Quade won the title.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.