Cochrane, Johnson take top prize at Wilton Open

The sunshine and 50-degree weather were right; the 182-player turnout, record breaking. The crowd was, too, as some 300 enthusiastic spectators jammed courtside to watch the 31st Annual Wilton YMCA Platform Tennis Open, which took place March 15 at the Wilton YMCA and other area clubs.

Among the 22 nationally ranked players competing were the former and current men's national champion, Mike Cochrane and Mark Parsons, respectively. It was Cochrane and his partner, J.P. Johnson, the tennis and paddle pro at Brooklawn Country Club, who took top honors in the Men's Open Draw by defeating Marco Grangeiro and Tom Kratky for the title.

“I've never played the Wilton Y Open before. It's a great tournament and I look forward to doing it again,” said Johnson.

“It was warm out there and the ball was flying,” added Cochrane. “When that happens, the ball sits up for me so I had a lot of good opportunities today. It's the first time I've played this tournament in a long time and it was good to be back.”

The Men’s B Draw champions were Andy Leggio and Steve Stolls. “It's the first time we've ever won the finals of a B [draw] in 15 years of playing together,” said Leggio, a Wilton Y regular.

“We were down 0-3 in the first set, but we just steadied up a bit, not forcing too much,” said Stolls. “Once we got the momentum, we stuck with it. I can't believe it that we won.”

The Women's Open Draw title went to Roxy Enica, a teaching pro at the Westchester Country Club, and Carol Powers. They defeated Florentina Hanisch and Gabriela Niculescu, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, in the finals.

“We lost the first set and were down 4-1 in the second, but we came back and won,” said Enica. “Carol ran well all over the court.”

“I would try to set Roxy up,” said Powers. “She’s ranked fourth nationally and her forehand drive is incredible.”

Notes: While extensive paddle play may be a focal point, it is still just a part of the day's overall festivities at the host venue, the Wilton YMCA. A barbecue lunch served up by Connecticut Chef Louie began at noon and lasted throughout the afternoon, welcoming players from the 12 other clubs — The Lake Club, The Wilton Riding Club, The Aspetuck Valley Country Club, The Patterson Club, The New Canaan Field Club, The Country Club of New Canaan, Silver Spring Country Club, The Woodway Country Club, The Fairfield County Hunt Club, The Field Club of Greenwich, The Round Hill Club, and The Greenwich Country Club — which also hosted matches.

The top sponsors included Paddleplayer.com, Wilson Sporting Goods (which had a representative present each draw winner with a gift certificate), Proximo/Kraken, and Wilton Physical Therapy.

A year ago, it was too cold for the steel drum band, Wilton Steel, to strut its tropical stuff. Not this year, as players on the courts competed to the accompaniment of musical strains with a Caribbean lilt.

Also on hand was sculptor Joe Fucigna's Kraken tentacle, a platform tennis paddle in its clutches, adorning the space just above the entrance to the Y paddle hut. There was also the Kraken itself — an inflatable, ink-black, yellow-eyed squid/octopus water toy — floating in the Y pond.

The large volunteer crew included Todd Parker, Beck Parker, Oliver Parker, Beth Kohl, Russ Kohl, Bill Fanning, Ron Gayda, Nick Hanna, Bo Beatty, Darren McCullough, Margaret Brown, Ann Duffy, Cindy Tanacea, Dave Tanacea, and Pete Taylor.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the YMCA Children's Charities.