It was nearly three games before Christie Putnam won her first point Sunday against Liane Bryson. But was she concerned?
Why not? For one thing, Putnam had beaten Bryson four out of the five times they played. But most importantly, she knew Bryson was only 15 minutes removed from a three-hour doubles match.
After the first two games, Bryson only won four more as she fell to Putnam, 7-5, 6-1, in the women’s 35 singles final of the Senior Grand Prix Masters at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.
“I was watching Liane play that doubles match, and every time she had to go back for a lob I just smiled,” Putnam said. “I felt Liane wasn’t as strong today as normal.”
Bryson of San Diego and Maricaye Daniels of Encinitas won the women’s 40 doubles title over Nanilee Minter of Del Mar and Susie Patterson of Rancho Santa Fe, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. But Bryson conceded the marathon doubles match took its toll in her match against Putnam.
“I got a little too tired,” she said. “I was mentally a basket case.”
Even with the 2-0 lead in the first set, Bryson said she didn’t feel comfortable.
“I knew that wasn’t an indication of how the match would go,” she said. “I played some real loose points after that.”
And soon Putnam’s play began to resemble that of her mother, Dorothy Cheney, who has won 202 national seniors titles. Trailing 3-2, Putnam ran off four consecutive games to take a 5-3 lead, mostly by keeping Bryson on the run with a mixture of drop shots and lobs.
Bryson finally held her serve to tie the games at five, but Putnam won the next two games.
Putnam, 38, continued to run Bryson, 43, ragged in the second set with lobs and drop volleys. And finally, after close to five hours, Bryson’s up-and-down day ended.
Could she have gone a third set against Putnam?
“If we would have played a third set, I would have laid down and cried, and then gone out and lost 6-0,” she said. “Or maybe I would have just defaulted. I had a tough time even showing up for the (singles) match.”
Putnam’s title is her second consecutive women’s 35 singles title at the Senior Grand Prix regional tournament. She is 201 national championships short of her mother, who was in attendance Sunday. In 1976, she teamed with Dorothy to win the mother-daughter title.