Anyone who checked the weather before heading to Philadelphia for AYF Olympics was a bit concerned. For several days leading up to the weekend, rain was in the forecast every day. Many were concerned that outdoor events would have to be postponed or even cancelled.But, ever optimistic, buses full of organizers, athletes, and fans left on time for golf and tennis competitions on day one.
Turns out, only the tennis matches were delayed by the rain. Once the rain subsided, the courts were obviously pretty wet. Other competitions may have cancelled the matches but not the AYF. Since there was no opportunity to make-up for lost time, the tournament went on. Before anyone could warm up, they had to help squeegee off the courts.
There were eight participants in the AYF women’s tennis and 12 on the men’s side. All of the point scorers from the previous year in Milwaukee were back to compete with the exception of Gabriel Chahinian of Toronto who took the silver medal. For the women, the same four ladies placed but in a slightly different order.
- Ana Bandazian – New Jersey
- Lina Ariyan – New Jersey
- Katia Ariyan – New Jersey
- Kenar Charchaflian – Worcester
There were 8 women in the tournament. In the four first round games, they play one set. The New Jersey juggernaut had an easy time the first round. Lina Ariyan played Adi Asadorian of Detroit and Ana Bandazian was up against Helen Attar, also of Detroit. Both Ariyan and Bandazian won 8 – 0. Lina’s sister Katia Ariyan won her set, 8-1, against Karine Keshgegian of Philadelphia. Kenar Charchaflian bested Nyree Kupelian 8 – 4.
In the medal rounds, it became the best two out of three sets. Lina bested Charchaflian 6 – 1 and 6 – 2. Bandazian squared off against Katia in a more tightly contested match. Bandazian outlasted Katia only to have to face Katia’s sister Lina in the final. Lina bested Charchaflian to advance. Ana edged Lina 6 – 4, 6 – 2 for the gold. Katia won the bronze by beating Charchaflian 6 – 1 and 6 – 2. This was a huge accomplishment for Bandazian, who worked her way up the past couple of years to advance from bronze to gold this year.
On the Men’s side, the results were:
- Hagop Taraksian – Providence
- Matt Tarzian – New Jersey
- Nareg Mkrtschjan – Providence
- Kyle Dinkjian – New Jersey
The men played two rounds of one set preliminary matches. Last year’s winners all had a bye in the first round. Kyle Dinkjian from New Jersey, Kyle Niffin of Detroit, George Noury of New Jersey, and Garo Sarajian also of New Jersey advanced to the second round. It looked like the New Jersey men wanted to emulate the New Jersey women. Waiting for the Jersey boys were three guys from Providence: Hagop Taraksian, Garo Tashian, and Nareg Mkrtschjan, and another Jersey boy, Matt Tarzian. Taraksian beat Sarajian 8 – 0. Kyle took Tashian 8 – 3. Mkrtschjan bested Noury 8 – 0, and Tarzian fended off Kyle 8 – 2 to advance to the medal rounds where it was New Jersey vs. Providence.
Tarzian faced Mkrtschjan and Taraksian was up against Dinkjian. Tarzian took the first set 6 – 2. Mkrtschjan came back to take the second 6 – 2. In the deciding set, Tarzian prevailed 6 – 2. Taraksian, last year’s champion, took Dinkjian in two sets: 6 – 2 and 6 – 2. Mkrtschjan went on to take the bronze. It came down to Taraksian and Tarzian for the gold. The late start to the tennis made it impossible to get the men’s final before the weekend. The Governing Body organizers decided to postpone the match until the following morning at the softball venue. Unfortunately for Tarzian, he arrived late—late enough that he had to concede a set to Taraksian. As scrappy and determined a player as Tarzian has been, he could not come back from that and ended up losing the second set to Taraksian 6 – 1. Taraksian has won the AYF Men’s Tennis in each of the four years he has competed since 2015.