The Ball Park tennis complex was the venue of the NERTA grand finals last Saturday, with the sun shining and expectations high, the scene was set for exceptional tennis and high drama and the results didn’t disappoint.
Dreams for some would soon be dashed and for others a fairy-tale finish realised.
Section 1 produced the finish of the season although it wasn’t a Super Tie break it was the equivalent.
The day began with both teams sharing the spoils of the first Men’s and Ladies doubles after some close and lengthy sets, Corowa went into the reverse doubles holding a slender 1 game advantage. Wang Hardcourts Robyn Hogan and Di Lucas blew the game apart after they demoralised their Corowa opponents with a near textbook display winning 8-1.
Corowa fought back winning 2 of the next 3 sets to go into the all-important mixed sets tied at 4 sets all and a 4 game deficit.
Wang Hardcourt have controlled and held all the aces during the set mixed sets all year but
Corowa were confident they had the firepower and temperament to provide a rearguard stand.
The Lucas’ Di and Chris walked off first after stunning their opponents with an 8-2 victory, putting Hardcourt well in front but when Peter Filliponi and Helen Curtis won 8-4 and then Corowa’s Scott Francis and Kim Broughton won 8-2 scores were level with the number one combinations still in battle.
This contest was led early by Wang Hardcourt and then out of the blue there seemed a momentum shift to Corowa as they won a few games on the trot to almost level the game score.
When players of both teams sat to watch the closing stages of the number 1 mixed set the score was 7-5 to Hardcourt, Darrell Spencer held serve for 6-7 then it was left to Scott Solimo who inexplicably lost his serve from 40-0 up, to ensure the result of the grand final would be decided by a tie break. The tie break was close early then Hardcourt gained a mini break after a couple of uncommon errors from the Corowa combination, it was left to Robyn Hogan who with nerves of steel, put away an overhead smash to complete the fairy-tale story for the perennial bridesmaids Wang Hardcourt. When Corowa won the last point there were scenes of jubilation and looks of relief as the monkey was finally off Hardcourts backs.
Hardcourts Di Lucas showed age shall not weary us by winning 3 sets while Corowa’s Scott Francis showed why he is rated the best in the competition with a flawless display winning 3 sets also.
The Hardcourt team of Robyn Hogan, Denise Goodwin, Di Lucas, Kerrie Henderson, Scott Solimo, Chris Lucas, Mario Pane, Matt Lucas and Andy Lucas were deserved winners as they were the most consist team throughout the entire season.
Corowa Blue team of Kim Broughton, Claire Davidson, Helen Curtis, Chris Munro, Darrell Spencer, Scott Francis, Peter Filliponi, Jono Keys were the firm team coming into the finals and with a few more weeks may have been holding the shield aloft.
Everton were out to achieve back-to-back grand final victories if they could overcome the persistent and stubborn Myrrhee outfit.
Everton fought their way back into the grand final after Myrrhee surprised them on semi-final day and were out to make amends for that result.
Everton definitely showed no mercy and took no prisoners early as they were determined to ensure there were no lapses in concentration and to apply enough pressure to Myrrhee to break their resistance early.
Everton managed to put a gap between themselves and Myrrhee after the first round of sets, winning all 4.
The first Ladies set went for almost an hour and was exciting and enthralling and energy sapping as the set ebbed and flowed with both teams appearing to have control of the set but it was the youthful Eleisha Kneebone and Jo Baron that prevailed for Everton.
When Everton won the first of the reverse doubles Myrrhee had their backs against the wall but their never say die attitude ensured they battled all the way and won the next three sets in tie breaks.
The match was swaying towards an Everton victory at the start of the mixed sets as they held a 5-3 and a healthy 13 game advantage.
Myrrhee’s Van Berlo duo, Dylan and Di, threw the gauntlet down to Everton with an impressive 8-1 win.
There were a few seeds of doubt thrown into the Everton camp and when Phil Corker and Kate Graham won 8-5 Everton were under pressure with a slender 4 game advantage.
The tide was turned by Russell Bennett and Jo Baron and then Noel and Ruth Kneebone put the icing on the cake and ensured an Everton victory.
Everton team of Eleisha Kneebone, Jo Baron, Ruth Kneebone, Jenny Cooper, Russell Bennett, Steve Cole, Noel Kneebone, Alan Wood have been on top of the ladder from the start of the season and showed why they deserved winning the shield.
Myrrhee Di Griffin, Robyn Oliver, Cathy Van Berlo, Kate Graham, Dylan Van Berlo, Peter Allen, Phil Corker, Daniel Griffin were worthy finalists but on the day were unable to withstand the constant and consistent pressure form Everton.
Ruth Kneebone was the standout player winning her 3 sets which on grand final day is an impressive effort.
Wahgunyah Gold (Jake Goddard, Wayne Johnstone, Shaun Moore, Peter Treberly) were always going to be hard to beat but when Wahgunyah Red’s Jake Boyle was unavailable, Red’s chances were diminished and the task at hand had taken on herculean proportions.
Red’s (Fiona Rose, Gordon Sawyer, James Strachan, Ethan Palmer) saw it as a challenge and began well but were unable to secure the necessary points as the critical times to win games and although the first 2 sets were 8-3 & 8-2 losses, they were always in the contests.
Gordon Sawyer and James Strachan put a set on the board for Red but it was Gold that held all the aces on the day.
Gold controlled the match and never allowed Red to settle and ran out comfortable winners. Wahgunyah Gold were the top team all year and were only getting better as the season drew to a close and deserved their victory.
Red had strung together an impressive run of wins leading into the finals, finishing third they had to fight their way to the grand final with two impressive victories but the last hurdle was too large and were gallant in defeat.
Wang Hardcourt 6-75 def Corowa Blue 6-74.
Everton 7-83 def Myrrhee 5-70.
Wahgunyah Gold 5-46 def Wahgunyah Red 1-21.