The 43rd annual Fallbrook Open tennis tournament was played at the Fallbrook Tennis Club during the first two weekends in June, and two Fallbrook players won championships in the premier divisions.
Robert Dabbs won the Men’s Open Singles championship and Skyler Schaar was the Women’s Open Singles champion. Both are Fallbrook High School graduates; Dabbs still lives in Fallbrook while Schaar is a Fallbrook resident who now spends the school year at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.
“I played pretty well, I think,” Dabbs said.
“It was overall a really great experience and a great thing for me to be able to win,” Schaar said.
The tournament drew a total of 164 players. “It went very well and I was pleased there were no glitches,” said tournament organizer Dorothy Roth.
Last year play was delayed because a wildfire in Rainbow closed southbound traffic on Interstate 15 and hindered the ability of competitors to travel to Fallbrook (some players withdrew from the tournament while others took detours, and most opponents already at the Fallbrook Tennis Club were willing to wait until the delayed competitors could arrive). This year the greatest challenge was mist in the morning during the second weekend.
“We were able to get the courts dry and get things started within an hour or so,” Roth said.
In the quarterfinal Dabbs took 6-1 and 6-2 victories over Temecula’s Kelly Dickson, who played for the University of California, Riverside after his seasons at Linfield Christian School. “Beating him 1 and 2 was pretty good,” Dabbs said.
Dabbs faced Leif Nordlund of Palm Desert in the semifinal and won 6-2 and 6-1 sets. “I came out pretty big,” Dabbs said. “I hit some big forehand winners.”
Dabbs won the division when Rohan Lageweg of Irvine withdrew from the championship match. “It was a little disappointing to win by a walkover in the final,” Dabbs said.
Lageweg won a three-set semifinal over Yousef Benhamida of San Diego in which the second and third sets were both tied at six games apiece to force tiebreaking games. Lageweg also competed in the Father-Son Doubles division and Cor and Rohan Lageweg reached the final before a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Joseph Balleweg and the younger Joseph Balleweg gave the Temecula family members the championship.
Lageweg plays club tennis for Cal. “I felt like I would have won it if we played,” Dabbs said.
Lageweg also had a three-set match during the first weekend; in the round of 16 he defeated Timothy Clark of Valley Center, who defeated Dabbs in the final of the 2016 Fallbrook Open to win the Men’s Open Singles division. “I would have liked to have played Tim Clark,” Dabbs said.
Last year Clark defeated Dabbs in a three-set final. Clark took a 6-2 victory in the first set. The second set was tied at six games apiece, which triggered a tiebreaking game to seven points, and Dabbs won the 7-5 tiebreaking game to force a third and deciding set.
Dabbs had a 5-4 lead in the third set, but Clark came back to win the set by a 7-5 score. “I couldn’t close it out,” Dabbs said.
The 2017 Fallbrook Open championship was the first for Dabbs, who is a 2006 Fallbrook High School graduate. “It was cool to win because I’ve played in it many years,” he said. “It was nice to finally win it.”
Dabbs, who is now 30, played college tennis for Azusa Pacific University for two years and reached the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics finals one of those seasons. He then concluded his college career at Cal Poly Pomona.
“I think it’s a great thing for a former Fallbrook High graduate to be able to do so well,” Schaar said on Dabbs also winning the open portion of the tournament.
Schaar graduated from Fallbrook High School in 2014 and played for the University of Hartford for two years before transferring to Dominican University, which is in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Schaar, who is now 21, has competed in the Fallbrook Open including its junior versions since she was five.
“It’s always a really cool thing for me to be able to participate and compete in the Fallbrook tournament,” she said.
Schaar began this year’s tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Taylor Johnson of Menifee. Schaar faced Stephanie Newell of Long Beach in the semifinal and won a pair of 6-1 sets to advance to the final.
The championship match pitted Schaar against former University of Hawaii-Hilo player Sayaka Fukumoto, who now lives in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Schaar won the first set by a 6-4 score.
“The first set I was kind of getting my groove,” Schaar said.
Schaar also was assessing Fukumoto’s style of play. “We had long rallies, but I kind of had the upper hand,” Schaar said.
The second set ended as a 6-0 win for Schaar. “I took control and never looked back,” she said.
“I’m excited. I’m happy that I won,” Schaar said. “It was just a really great thing.”
Schaar also won the Fallbrook Open in 2014. She lost in the 2015 championship match. Schaar played in the national hardcourt championships in San Diego last year instead of the Fallbrook Open.
Four of the divisions utilized a round-robin format. Nordlund won the Men’s 5.5 Singles championship. Risa Chung of Corona was the Women’s 5.5 Singles champion. Bobbie Manheim of San Diego and Susie Schwaiger of Del Mar won the Women’s 3.5 Doubles division. Terry DeCarl of Temecula and Caron Lieber of Fallbrook were the Women’s 4.0 Doubles winners.
Chung was the only player to win championships in two divisions at this year’s Fallbrook Open. Risa and Ken Chung won the Mother-Son Doubles championship match over Jennifer and William Kries of Menifee by 6-3 and 6-1 scores.
Timothy and Brooke Clark won the Father-Daughter Doubles division with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Paul and Erica Giarrusso of Temecula in the final.
Temecula netter Bryan Tapley won the Men’s 3.5 Singles championship match by defeating Bo Linton of Canyon Lake in 6-4 and 6-0 sets.
The Women’s 4.0 Singles final between Janene Christopher of San Diego and Melanie MacRae of Palm Desert required three sets. The first set was tied at six games apiece before Christopher won the 7-4 tiebreaking game. MacRae won the 6-3 second set. Christopher secured the match and championship with a 7-5 triumph in the third set.
Kristopher Sumner of Laguna Niguel won the Men’s 4.0 Singles championship in a three-set final against Craig Riley of Vista. Sumner won the 6-2 first set, Riley was the winner of the 6-1 second set, and Sumner captured the match and the division championship with a 6-3 victory in the third set.
Valley Center teammates Kenny Hawkins and Thomas Pelletier were the Men’s 4.0 Doubles champions. They defeated Temecula players Teofilo Beltran and Ignacio Medina in a 6-1, 6-3 final.
Edward Kardas of Oceanside and Nadia Shokrai of San Marcos won the Mixed 4.0 Doubles final by taking 6-1 and 6-3 sets against Roger and Carolyn Mathes of Fallbrook.
Zdenek Riha of Carlsbad won a pair of 6-3 sets to defeat Jonathan Robinson of Valley Center in the Men’s 4.5 Singles final.
The Men’s 4.5 Doubles final involved four Temecula players. Robert Bryant and Keith London won the division with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Paul Giarrusso and James Carroll.
Sal Zimmitti of San Diego won the Men’s 70 Singles championship with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Jim Cunningham of Temecula in the final.