Marshall Sampson and Donna Bierschenk fought off match point in the deciding third set, then flipped the tables on their opponents for an 11-9 doubles victory that allowed the Mainland to retain bragging rights at the second Bridge Bowl Tennis matches Sunday at Palmetto Dunes.
The Mainland, representing Bluffton and other non-Hilton Head Island entries, took a 5-4 lead into the final match and appeared set to celebrate when Sampson and Bierschenk took the first set against Islanders Adrian Villalon and Courtney Gibbes in the Mixed 8.0 finale.
The Island duo battled back, though, to win the second set in a tiebreak and force the deciding third set. Villalon and Gibbes had a chance to square up the matches 5-5 but couldn’t put away the final point as Sampson and Bierschenk rode that momentum to victory.
It was the second time Sunday that the Islanders fell in an 11-9 third set after failing to put away a match point. The other came in the men’s 3.5 doubles, where Al Day and Kevin Snow prevailed after staving off an 8-7 deficit.
That was part of a quick 3-0 start by the Mainland tandems before the Islanders exerted their superiority in the higher-rated finals.
Last year, the Bridge Bowl also came down to the final match before the Mainlanders prevailed.
This year’s tournament originally was scheduled for early October but wound up pushed back six weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s damage to the Hilton Head Island.
Mainland 6, Island 4
Winning tandems from Sunday’s Bridge Bowl Grand Final
Men’s 3.0: Dennis Basinger & Stephen Bown (Mainland)
Women’s 3.0: Martha Watkins & Kathleen Oelschlager (Mainland)
Men’s 3.5: Al Day/Kevin Snow (Mainland)
Women’s 3.5: Dawn Richard/Megan Hyatt (Mainland)
Men’s 4.0: Denny Carpenter/Rich Murray (Island)
Women’s 4.0: Tracy Castricone/Pam Bautista (Island)
Men’s 4.5: Denny Carpenter/Jon Kiley (Island)
Women’s 4.5: Jennifer Witmer/Courtney Gibbes (Island)
Mixed 7.0: Tony Bensch/Martha Watkins (Mainland)
Mixed 8.0: Marshall Sampson/Donna Bierschenk (Mainland)