Todd Dominiak just won't go away - and neither will his tennis skills.
Dominiak, who has flirted with retirement more times than Brett Favre, didn't decide to enter the City of Toledo Singles Championships until the final moments before the registration deadline.
Is Dominiak suddenly becoming forgetful in his old age? No. But admittedly, he had serious doubts of whether he could continue to mix it up with younger players.
Turns out it's the young guys that can't hang with the wily veteran.
For the 10th time in his decorated career, the 42-year-old Dominiak won the city championship yesterday at Toledo Tennis Club. Twenty summers after his initial title, Dominiak cruised past 25-year-old Joao Pinho 6-4, 6-2.
Neela Vaez won the women's flight, topping JoEllen Kaufman in straight sets 7-6, 6-4 to capture her fourth city title.
After losing in the finals last year, Dominiak all but walked away from singles competition saying, "Something drastic would have to happen for me to change my mind."
Nothing drastic occurred. Rather simply, Dominiak was still confident that his knowledge and experience could offset any physical limitations.
"I felt really good this year," Dominiak said. "I felt I was in shape. If I didn't feel like I could compete, I was not going to play."
Dominiak, a pro at Belmont Country Club, said he will likely give it another run next year. And why wouldn't he after such an amazing and dominant performance?
A win over Pinho was anything but a certainty. The Brazilian played on the Division I college level, and although this was his first tournament in two years, he keeps sharp as an assistant men's coach at the University of Toledo.
"He neutralized my game pretty well," Pinho said. "My legs were kind of heavy today, but I was playing pretty well the first set. I couldn't keep up at the beginning of the second set. He played better."
Vaez participated in the tournament for the first time since winning consecutive titles from 2003-05.
The two-time state champion for Notre Dame Academy had scheduling conflicts the last two years.
"I really like to play every year and it feels really good to get my crown back," Vaez said. "I just got it back."
She's being modest, although trouble ensued at the end of the first set. Kaufman broke serve to send the set to a tiebreaker, and she quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Her advantage grew to 5-2 before Vaez claimed the next five points to win the set.
"I just tried to keep my head and play every point as long as I could," Vaez said.
The pressure was minimal compared to what she's experiencing in her daily life. Vaez, 20, must get A's or B's in all of her summer classes at Owens to become eligible to play at the University of Virginia in the fall. With just one chemistry course remaining, Vaez is in line to play for the Cavaliers where she will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
"I've been trying to train, but I had to do really well to get into school, so I've been off tennis for a little while," said Vaez, who played her freshman season at Purdue.
Naturally, Vaez felt fatigued yesterday. But so did her opponent. Unlike the men's final, age may have been a factor as Kaufman, who turns 36 next week, was drained after the marathon first set.
"I was disappointed that I lost because it was such a close set," said Kaufman, the champion in '06. "It would have been nice to win, but I think I wasted most of my energy trying to win the first set."
Dominiak didn't waste much time or energy at any point in the week. He lost just one set in four matches, and he followed that setback with set wins of 6-2 and 6-2 to advance to the semifinals.
Now that Dominiak has proven he can still beat the new generation of players, a new question has arisen.
Who wins Todd Dominiak of 1988 or Todd Dominiak of 2008?
"I think I can outthink him," Dominiak said of the 22-year-old version of himself. "I think he may outrun me, but I think I can out execute him. I think the new guy might narrowly beat the old guy."
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