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Lang right  at home in  45-over win

Updated: November 2, 2011 5:36PM



VALPARAISO — The emphatic shout bellowed off of walls and throughout the tennis courts at Valparaiso University.

There was no doubt. Jim Lang was quite excited to notch the deciding play in the 45 and over division at the Post-Tribune Tennis Classic on Monday.

And multiple factors sweetened the situation for the 52-year-old Valparaiso native. Not only was Lang playing close to home, but his match with Donn Gobbie (the coach of both the Andrean high school boys team and the Purdue Calumet men’s program) was the final match of the classic. Then there was the fact that Lang considered himself the underdog coming in. He’d heard good things about Gobbie but never seen the 53-year-old (from Brook) before.

But with a fiery serve and just as bombastic returns (sometimes hitting the court and then bouncing over the fence), Lang powered through a 6-3 first set win. Then after losing 4-6 in the second he won 10-4 in the super tie break. The deciding moment came when Gobbie attempted a creative drop shot and Lang responded with a flipping return.

Lang, who also won in the 45 and over doubles, credits a boost from seeing his daughter Gina (a volleyball player at Michigan State) in the stands.

“Honestly, when it got to the tiebreak I saw my daughter sitting over there and I thought, ‘what would she do, she’d play tough’,” he said.

Just like 15 years ago: It’s been 15 years since Floyd Claiborne last competed with his daughter Terra (Burke) in the classic. A match that they lost.

But since that time Floyd has won in both the mixed and open doubles, so their playing reunion also featured a first for both. It was the first time either won in father-daughter doubles (which came 6-2, 6-3 over fellow Valparaiso natives Robert and Madison Kammerer). Burke actually came into town (from Charleston S.C.) for family birthdays (including her father’s 60th today) when her dad suggested the classic.

“I think we haven’t missed a beat, because she still tells me what to do, like she did then,” Claiborne said while smiling.

Third time is the charm: Jeff Pochop and his son Pat (Valparaiso natives) have been in the final of the father-son doubles three times (including Monday), but lost in their prior trips. The Pochops won with sets of 6-1, 6-2. 

“Before we got here today, Pat and I were talking and said when we return we’re coming to the net,” said Jeff.



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