That's what John Kluth said as he drove

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

That's what John Kluth said as he drove through the torrential downpour that hit northeast Ohio Wednesday afternoon.

Kluth was determined to find his way through the storm to reach his first-round mixed doubles match at the Record-Courier Portage County Open, and his attitude typified the competitors who refused to let the rain wash away a day of tennis.

"The weather was awful, and I had to make a special trip here an hour early from work (at Tower City)," said Kluth. "When I finally got to the courts (at Kent Roosevelt High School for the 7 p.m. match), they were too wet."

But eventually the rain stopped and the tournament participants went to work.

The late matches were moved to Kent State University, where the players squeegeed their own courts to get in their first-round matches, albeit an hour after the scheduled starting time.

But the players were just happy to get on the court, win or lose.

"We had a lot of fun," said Kent State student Amy Strabala, who, along with teammate and best friend Paul Fabry, fell to Kluth and Linda Williams in mixed doubles, 6-1, 6-2. "We played in the tournament last year and we lost then too, but we had a great time."

The younger team of Strabala and Fabry were a good tune up for a tough upcoming second match, according to Williams.

"Amy and Paul were very good opponents," said Williams. "Their ground strokes were excellent. Every time I thought I'd lobbed it over, they'd stretch and get it. It was very discouraging ... It doesn't get any easier for us. Now we have to play (Steve and Ellen) Baggett. We won (the Portage County Open) in mixed doubles back in 1995, and that was just because the Baggett's weren't in it. They are going to be very tough."

In the other mixed doubles matches of the day: Craig Triola and Sarah Blair defeated David and Janet Fosnight, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a battle of Ravenna residents; George Barbuto and Christina Dodds beat Ben Weiner and K.J. Bailey, 7-5, 6-2; and Kent residents Bill and Karen Feeterers defeated the Record-Couriers own Scott Rainone and Heather Condley, 6-0, 6-0.

"We didn't play very well, but we had a great time," said Rainone. "They were excellent opponents and they made the tournament really enjoyable. We're just out here for the exercise and we're practicing for next year."

In the Women's C Singles match, Twin Lakes resident Michelle Martin was a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Kent's Anne Durkalski.

The rain did manage to wash away a few matches.

Six matches were rained out completely and another three will be finished today, including the Combined Girls Junior/Novice Division match between Kent's Erin Macke and Ravenna's Jennifer Farquhar which will continue in progress today with one set completed, as will Combined Girls A/B Singles matches, Vachana Hegde vs. Kathy Gagola and Jenny Hoffman vs. Nora Noble.

In Combined Youth Boys Doubles, the team of Field Middle School's Jim Ensminger and Ray Barry will meet the team of brothers Chris and Dan Lesher at 9 a.m. Sunday for the championship.

Ensminger and Barry were 6-2, 6-1 winners over Ravenna residents Zach Geseman and Matt Beetler, while the Lesher's were 6-0, 6-2 winners over Ravenna's Phil Oostdyk and Nathan Perry.

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Record-Courier Portage County Open Tennis Tournament

(at Kent Roosevelt H.S. & Kent State)

Combined Youth Boys Doubles

Ensminger/Barry def. Geseman/Beetler, 6-2, 6-1.

C. Lesher/D. Lesher def. Oostdyk/Perry, 6-0, 6-2.

Mixed Doubles

B. Feeterers/K. Feeterers def. Rainone/Condley, 6-0, 6-0.

Triola/Blair def. D. Fosnight/S. Fosnight, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Kluth/Williams def. Fabry/Strabala, 6-1, 6-2.

Barbuto/Dodds def. Weiner/Bailey, 7-5, 6-2.

Women's C Singles

Martin def. Durkalski, 6-2, 6-1.

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