Winter 2017 has been really mild in St. Louis this year and recently we found ourselves with a Thursday morning with predicted weather of sunny and a high of near 70 degrees. By coincidence this day was also tennis legend John McEnroe's birthday. As we began researching courts we found that our first 3 choices of courts appeared to be relegated to the dustbin of history. Those were Jackson Park, Frostwood Park and Musick Park. Personal inspection of all three showed courts either abandoned or in unplayable condition.
Dunegant Park in Florissant. Dunegant Park is a large park that includes multiple amenities such as Tennis, Handball, Frisbee Golf, Ball Fields, Soccer, BBQ and Restrooms. Who was Dunegant you ask? Well that is where things get really interesting. Francois Dunegant was sent to North County in the late 1700's to found San Fernando which later became the City of Florissant. He was granted a significant amount of land and we wonder if this park was donated by his family at a later date. Here is good history of Francois Dunegant. The tennis courts come in two varieties - 4 astroturf courts with light poles literally in between the courts - slightly dangerous if running to get a ball and 2 courts that were hard courts where the nets shared a middle pole. We decided to play the match with one set on each surface and then if split sets the third set surface would be determined by a racket spin.
Scott broke out a can of pink "Hope" tennis balls which support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Stan brought out for the first time in this series a pair of Volkyl tennis racquets switching from his former brand Head. Warm up was quickly completed and then Scott won the racket spin and chose to serve. Stan quickly broke Scott and then Scott broke right back. Scott's next service game was tough but Stan found his range and quickly hit down the line winners to both sides and took a 2-1 lead. Scott broke Stan again with some aggressive returning.
At 2-2 Scott had an excellent service game punctuated with a rare ace down the T to Stan. 3-2 lead Scott. On Stan's next service game he started off by hitting the line on his serve which created a high kicking bounce that Scott
could not handle. He finished the game for a 3-3 score. Scott held a tough service game by hitting a great passing shot past the speedy Bulgarian and then broke Stan for a 5-3 lead.
Closing out the Bulgarian is always tough and Stan went to work and in a few short minutes worked the score back to 5-5 with some excellent volleys and a wicked drop shot. Scott served out a service game with a couple deuces and took a 6-5 lead. Stan's first serve on the next game was ripped cross court by Scott at a sharp angle and kissed the line for a winner. Scott parlayed that shot to a break and took the first set 7-5.
We packed up our stuff and headed over to the hard courts. The hard courts have a plaque naming them the John Schneider Memorial Courts. Scott remembered a former John Schneider who was a Missouri State tennis champion from the now defunct Rosary High School. John also appeared in a tennis movie and was a teaching tennis pro. The John Schneider plaque honors a former state politician from Florissant. Unfortunately the courts are not honoring him very well as they are completely devoid of any surfacing at this point.
Stan was getting much more consistent while Scott seemed to struggle to hit a clean ball. As a third set was required the racket was spun and Stan chose to stay on the hard courts but to switch to the other court. This match would now be played on 3 different courts. This last hard court had even more cracks which could
affect the match at any point in time.
New yellow balls were opened for the third set. Things really started to look bleak for Scott as Stan quickly pulled out to a 5-1 lead. Scott served to stay in the match and Stan tried to finish it quickly. Stan reached his first match point and Scott played a long defensive point lobbing Stan who finally tried to hit an overhead from the baseline which landed in the net. Stan won the next point and match point number two was saved with another deep shot to Stan's backhand which he pulled wide. Finally Scott was able to save the game and get to 5-2.
Stan served and quickly got to his 3rd match point which Scott saved with a backhand stab dropshot which was held up by the swirling wind. Scott won the game by charging the net on a weak ball from Stan and angled it off the court to get to 5-3. Again on Scott's serve Stan got another match point opportunity #4 and Scott saved it with a monster cross court forehand winner.
It looked like an amazing comeback was in the making at this point. Stan had other plans however and quickly unleashed two great shots one a down the line winner to Scott's backhand side the the second was an amazing return of a Scott angled backhand return causing Scott to put the ball over the middle of the net only to find a smiling Bulgarian there who cashed in on his 5th match point with an easy volley. Match to Stan 5-7, 6-3, 6-3
The location of these courts is a 10 being in a relatively quiet setting. Although we did not really have many bad bounces these courts need some serious attention. The carpet courts were in better shape than the hard so we will give an overall score of 5 for a 7.5 average. Florissant has been spending money on their tennis courts at other locations so hopefully these are due for a makeover.
After tennis we drove a few miles east for a great BBQ lunch at the Ferguson Brewing Company located in downtown Ferguson.
Within two weeks of this match John McEnroe's father John McEnroe Sr. passed away as well as politician John Schneider. Both left long and proud legacies.