MotherLode’s top-seeded women down, but not out | AspenTimes.com

MotherLode’s top-seeded women down, but not out

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Aspen native Catie Mintz’s road back to the MotherLode’s women’s open final took a detour Sunday at Koch Lumber Park when she and partner Angela Knopf fell to fifth-seeded Dawn Tischauser and Deb Ponis of Denver.The three-game loss for Mintz and Knopf – the top-seeded pairing in the women’s field – means the two will have to battle through the loser’s bracket to make today’s final, which is tenatively scheduled for 2 p.m.An opening 21-18 loss in the first game proved costly for Mintz and Knopf, All-American teammates during their college playing days at CSU, who squared off against each other in last year’s final in Aspen. Using their height advantage, Mintz and Knopf pounded Tischauser and Ponis in the second game, 21-12, but couldn’t keep the momentum, succumbing in the clinching third game, 15-12.As upsets go, this wasn’t exactly a shocker.In 2005, Tischauser, then playing with Ingrid Rooslid, downed Knopf and Leilani Kamahoahoa in the MotherLode women’s final using carefully-placed shots and scrappy digging to counter a size disadvantage at the net.The same strategy worked Sunday, as Knopf and Mintz struggled with ball control and helped Tischauser and Ponis to the win with a bevy of errors. If Knopf makes it back to today’s final, it will be her fifth appearance in the crowning match since 2002, when she won her first of three MotherLode titles. Mintz – whose maiden name is Vagneur – made her first appearance in the final last year with then-partner Kelly Rowe.Rowe and Carrie Wright – Knopf’s winning partner last year – also lost Saturday, falling to second-seeded Chrissie Zartman and Sara Dukes. In the men’s bracket, ball control and defense also prevailed over height and raw power, as fifth-seeded Jim Nichols and Randy Meador knocked off fourth-seeded Anthony “A.J.” Mihalic and Justin Phipps.Mihalic and Phipps were finalists at last year’s MotherLode, losing to three-time champion Dana Camacho and Ivan Mercer. The only title handed out Sunday was in the women’s amateur A bracket, where Julia McConahay and Tanya Mulder, both of Omaha, Neb., downed Nikki Lawson of Highlands Ranch and Leanne Felton of Parker, 21-18, 15-21, 18-16.For complete coverage of today’s finals, check back in The Aspen Times. Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com