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The Call of a Champion Keeps Warriors Alive

March 26, 2009 10:43 AM
Paul Raftis in action at Nationals

By Blair Thompson

TUCSON - Out of 34 teams competing in the USTA League presented by Chrysler 3.0 Adult National Championships, only one had a reversed line call on match point keep them from staying at home this weekend.

The appropriately named Weakend Warriors men’s team from Seattle were in just that position in August as they watched their No. 2 singles player Paul Raftis battle in the finals of the Pacific Northwest Section Championship.

After losing the first set 6-0, Raftis fought back to even the match winning the second 7-5. As the players entered the third set, both teams gathered nervously around their court as the team match was now tied 2-2 and a trip to the national championships in Tucson on the line.

Going deep into third set match tiebreaker, Raftis found himself (and his team) down match point 11-10. After a long baseline rally, Raftis hit a forehand that was called out on the baseline by his opponent, John Criss of Belfair, Wash. With that close call it looked like Raftis and the rest of the Weakend Warriors would be staying in rain-soaked Seattle instead of heading to sunny Arizona in October.

But in a remarkable display of sportsmanship not often seen with a championship on the line, without even being questioned by Raftis, his opponent reversed his call and gave the point to him.

“I never put a stink up about it. He (Criss) was a class act. A lot of people are used to ‘when in doubt call it out’ but not him,” said Raftis.

It took only two more points for Raftis, in his first year of USTA League competition, to win the third set 13-11 and keep the Weakend Warriors alive to fight on for a national title.

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