LEXINGTON – Ron Schaub didn’t need to coax his son, Ty, to come back after a 15-year hiatus and play in the tennis tournament he’s run since 1982.
His nephew, Jon Peters, did it for him.
Ninety years from now, someone might still be talking about how Peters and the younger Schaub repeatedly came through in the clutch to beat the nation’s top-ranked 50-and-over duo for the men’s doubles title in the 90th News Journal Tennis Tournament.
That’s the scene that unfolded Sunday as the two cousins collaborated to take down six-time men’s singles champ Jay Harris and his partner, Will Calhoun 6-3, 6-3 at Lexington High School.
“Ty just moved to Columbus and we work together (in insurance), so we talk all the time,” said Peters, who lives in Cincinnati. “We talked about the News Journal coming up, and you just never know how long Ty is going to be in Columbus, so you know what? Let’s play some dubs.”
A few weeks ago, they decided they better start practicing, especially since Harris and Calhoun were already committed and competing across the nation and bringing that No. 1 ranking to town.
So they called to set up some court time in Columbus with Melissa Schaub, Ty’s older sister and the four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year in charge of the Ohio State women’s team.
It pays to know people in high places.
“She fed us some balls and we got a practice set against some of her players,” Peters said. “A couple of weeks ago Melissa and I hit again and then Ty and I got in a couple of practices.”
Ty Schaub looked like he turned back the clock to 2008 when he last played in the News Journal and won the last of his five men’s singles titles. Since then he’s coached in six Division I college programs, and he and his wife, Martina, have had a son, Quinn, with another child on the way.
One thing hasn’t changed: Those quick hands that served Schaub well at the net Sunday.
“Even though I haven’t been playing matches, I’ve been around tennis the whole time,” Schaub, 37, said. “Up until a year ago, I was hitting while I coached college kids at South Carolina. Maybe my hands are as good now as ever being around those kids.”
Peters, whose mom Kathy is Ron Schaub’s sister, grew up in Cincinnati and played collegiately at Northern Kentucky. His last year was 2003.
“I started playing again a few years ago right before COVID,” Peters, 42, said. “Then my brother-in-law in Kentucky asked me to play on a 4.0 (intermediates/advanced level) team. We played a couple of matches, and it gave me a chance to spend time with him, so I enjoyed it.”
They got serious about their partnership and eventually won the Kentucky state tournament, which led to winning a national doubles championship in Oklahoma City.
How crazy is it that a small town tournament like this can have the nation’s No. 1 doubles team on one side of the net and a reigning national champion doubles player on the other? Not to mention that Ty Schaub is a former Ohio State team captain and led his dad’s Lexington High School team to a state championship in 2004.
On paper, this was one of the greatest matchups in the history of this tournament. And it more than lived up to expectations despite the misleading final score.
After falling behind 5-0 in the first set, Harris and Calhoun came within a point of breaking serve and serving to make it 5-all. Instead, Peters drilled a volley that handcuffed Calhoun, making it deuce, and Schaub eventually won the game and closed out the set with a second serve ace where Harris, set to return, never budged.
He was expecting one thing and got another.
“Ty had just hit a big (first) serve (down the middle) that he just missed and I’m like, OK, he’s going to spin (the second serve) into my body and I’ll hit it with my forehand,” Harris said. “But (instead) he hit it perfectly into the corner.”
Harris and Calhoun faced an uphill battle that whole first set after Harris got broken in the second game. It went six deuces, with Schaub and Peters fighting off four game points. Harris had four service winners in the game, but double-faulted at break point to make it 2-0 in favor of the eventual champs.
In the first game of the second set, Harris and Calhoun survived a break point, but it took three deuces before they eventually held for 1-0. The players stayed on serve through the first four games, but Schaub and Peters got the first service break of the set for a 3-2 lead by fighting off three game points. Schaub then held at 15 for a 4-2 lead, putting their top-seeded opponents in a dangerous hole.
Calhoun held for 3-4 and then two deuce games followed, so they could have gone either way. But it was Schaub and Peters who came through to win both, closing out the mild upset.
“Doubles played at a high level is like that … a couple points here and there that make a difference,” Harris said. “Will and I have been playing these tournaments and been doing pretty good in the big games, but at a high level it just comes down to a couple of points.”
Calhoun, 56, and Harris, who turns 52 on Aug. 10, were the two oldest players in the men’s draw. They didn’t use it as an excuse, but this heavyweight bout was the third match of the day for each.
Harris lost in the men’s singles quarterfinals to Dylan Catanese 7-6, 6-1, while Calhoun reached the semis with a 7-6, 7-5 win over 2009 champion Alex “Bones” McCann. In doubles, they earned a trip to the finals by beating McCann and Jake Chilcote 6-4, 6-2.
So it was a long day, whether they want to admit it or not.
“You’re just highlighting that I’m eligible for the senior citizen discount at Denny’s,” Calhoun joked. “Those guys (Schaub and Peters) played awfully well, (with) hardly any unforced errors. They played the big points well. We had our chances.”
Touby McCammon, a former doubles partner of Calhoun as well as a News Journal men’s doubles champion (with his Malone College teammate Dave Drummond) and a former state doubles runner-up (with Ward Fisher) at Lexington, tried to lift Calhoun’s spirits afterwards by mentioning – with tongue firmly in cheek – three things:
Be younger. Play better. Don’t get sore.
Calhoun, a former St. Peter’s star and a two-time Academic All-American at Brigham Young, was playing this tournament for the first time since 1996. That was 27 years ago. He lost to Harris in the 1991 men’s singles final. Ty Schaub was 5 and Peters was 10.
“They were incredible today,” Calhoun said graciously “Ty’s hands, his volleys … his serves were good. Those guys made us pay for our mistakes, and they didn’t make any mistakes.”
Schaub and Peters rolled into the finals off an impressive 6-1, 3-6, 10-6 (tiebreaker) win in the semis over another set of cousins, Jansen and Luke Webster. The Websters had knocked off the No 2-seeded Ethan Remy and Dylan Catanese in the quarterfinals.
“We got better as the tournament went on,” Schaub said. “I’m not surprised that we meshed. We didn’t know exactly what our level of tennis would be all the time, but, luckily, we played our best in the finals.”
Even though Peters is new to the tournament as a player, he followed the exploits of his cousins, Melissa and Ty, as a young spectator and by reading the headlines they created with their performances in this two-week event.
“I was watching Jay play in the News Journal when I was a little kid,” he said. “I remember my grandma made chili dogs in the food stand that was set up, so I know the importance and history of this tournament, especially this year with (Harris and Calhoun) coming in from out of town (Long Island and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, respectively).
“This meant a lot to me to be able to play with Ty because I’ve always looked at he and Melissa being in the top echelon.”
USTA national rankings are determined by points accrued, so Harris and Calhoun need to play 50s tournaments on a regular basis. That can be challenging because of other obligations. Calhoun runs four businesses and Harris is a general manager and tennis director for Sportime, which runs several clubs in New York and is affiliated with the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
Harris hasn’t yet told McEnroe of his No. 1 ranking in doubles, but otherwise word has gotten out. He and Calhoun definitely had an X on their backs this weekend.
It will be a year next month that they became a doubles team and started on the path to a No. 1 ranking with three titles and three other high finishes. They will be in Rhode Island next month for the USTA National Grasscourts, where it all began for them in 2022.
“We certainly didn’t expect to be No. 1 at this stage,” Calhoun said.
And Ty Schaub probably didn’t expect to be winning News Journal titles again.
“Maybe,” he said, grinning, “this will give me the itch to play more often.”
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Family Tys: Cousins collaborate to knock off nation’s No. 1 duo for NJ doubles crown