Thanks mostly to its mixed doubles pair of Butch Walts and Mary Lou Piatek, the San Diego Buds had won their first three matches of the season going into Sunday night's TeamTennis match in St. Louis against the Slims. In fact, Walts and Piatek had pulled through with victories to bring the Buds from behind to beat Miami Beach and Boston.
So, when the Buds carried a 19-17 lead into the final set--mixed doubles--Sunday against the Slims, it appeared another victory was assured. Not this time.
St. Louis' Sandy Collins and John Matke defeated Walts and Piatek, 6-4, to tie the match then beat the San Diego duo, 7-5, in a 13-point tiebreaker to give the Slims a 24-23 victory.
The loss left the Buds' record at 3-1 and dropped them a half-game behind idle Oakland into second place. St. Louis improved to 3-2 with the victory.
"We're all more than a little disappointed," Buds Coach Larry Willens said. "The breaks did not go our way, but much of that was our fault. This St. Louis team doesn't belong on the same court with us, but we were being too cocky."
Most of the Buds' problems came in the third set of the match, women's doubles. Even though Robin White and Piatek won 6-5 over Collins and Candy Reynolds to bring the Buds within 16-13 at halftime, Willens was upset.
"We played ladies doubles like we were the greatest team in the world," Willens said. "The girl's were out there giggling because they thought they had it wrapped up."
Indeed, up 5-2, White and Piatek appeared to be in good shape. But White missed an easy overhead on game point, and the San Diego pair let two other set points slip away before finally winning in the tiebreaker.