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Two-time defending champion Maya Pardee hits a forehand volley during her straight-set win Saturday in Heidelberg, Germany, in the women's Open championship of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships.

Two-time defending champion Maya Pardee hits a forehand volley during her straight-set win Saturday in Heidelberg, Germany, in the women's Open championship of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Two-time defending champion Maya Pardee hits a forehand volley during her straight-set win Saturday in Heidelberg, Germany, in the women's Open championship of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships.

Two-time defending champion Maya Pardee hits a forehand volley during her straight-set win Saturday in Heidelberg, Germany, in the women's Open championship of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Phillip Ramil hits a serve during his three set victory Saturday over Brian Kelley in the final match of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships in Heidelberg, Germany.

Phillip Ramil hits a serve during his three set victory Saturday over Brian Kelley in the final match of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships in Heidelberg, Germany. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Chery Riise lunges for a backhand Saturday during the women's Open finals in the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships in Heidelberg, Germany. After losing the first set 6-1, Riise pushed the second set to a tiebreaker before falling to champion Maya Pardee.

Chery Riise lunges for a backhand Saturday during the women's Open finals in the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships in Heidelberg, Germany. After losing the first set 6-1, Riise pushed the second set to a tiebreaker before falling to champion Maya Pardee. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Brian Kelley serves in the second set of his match against Phillip Ramil in the finals of the men's Open division of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships. Though he pushed it to three sets, Kelley fell short in the third.

Brian Kelley serves in the second set of his match against Phillip Ramil in the finals of the men's Open division of the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships. Though he pushed it to three sets, Kelley fell short in the third. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Phillip Ramil of Ramstein hits a forehand in the first set of the men's Open final at the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships tennis championships in Heidelberg, Germany, on Saturday. Ramil won in three sets.

Phillip Ramil of Ramstein hits a forehand in the first set of the men's Open final at the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships tennis championships in Heidelberg, Germany, on Saturday. Ramil won in three sets. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

HEIDELBERG, Germany - For the third year in a row, Maya Pardee of the Spangdahlem military community took home the women’s open crown at the U.S. Forces Europe Tennis Championships.

On the men’s side, it was a newcomer out of Ramstein who took home the title Saturday in a fierce back-and-forth battle that lasted nearly two and a half hours. Phillip Ramil outlasted Brian Kelley, also of Ramstein, to capture first place with a 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 win at Patrick Henry Village.

“I think in the end it came down to who was less tired,” Ramil said following his victory.

It could have been easier for Ramil, who gave away 5-2 leads in both the first and second sets. Ramil managed to hang on to win the first set after Kelley mounted a comeback. But in the second set Kelley fought back once more with big serves and forehands to break even. The match turned out to be a duel of forehands and big, heavy spinning first serves.

There weren’t many surprises during the match for Ramil and Kelley, who are both practice partners and neighbors back in Ramstein. In fact, the two later teamed up to down Jim Moss of Kaiserslautern and Jerry Swedlund of Mannheim 6-3, 6-3 in the men’s doubles competition.

“We practice together all the time, so we know what we can and can’t do,” Ramil said. “It was tough out there.”

Ultimately, it was the better conditioned Ramil who pulled through.

“I know how he plays and I was able to come back,” Kelley said. “But in the third set I was too tired.”

On the women’s side, Pardee defeated Chery Riise of Spangdahlem 6-1, 7-6 in a match that featured grinding baseline rallies.

“Neither one of us really came into the net that much,” Pardee said.

Pardee used her forehand to control many of the points from the backcourt, forcing her opponent into errors. But in the second set, Riise returned fire with big serves and forehands of her own.

In the end, Pardee’s experience proved too much.

“It’s great to come out here,” Paradee said. “I like the atmosphere and the people here. And, of course, the competition.”

In the men’s Masters division (competitors over 40) Jonathen Etterbeek of Schinnen in the Netherlands defeated Jim Moss of Kaiserslautern 6-2, 6-0.

There was no women’s Masters division due to insufficient participation.

In mixed doubles, Brett Freedman of Landstuhl and Riise defeated Kelly Omohundro of Kaiserslautern and Etterbeek 6-2,6-4.vandiverj@estripes.osd.mil

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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