No cliché for Cle-Kay

Sam Cleland and Josh Kay were one of three championship-winning pairs in Smithton Tennis Club’s annual Doubles Championships on Saturday. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Competition. Three champion pairs emerged from an overcast day’s play in Smithton Tennis Club’s first tournament of the season on Saturday.

The Doubles Championships saw 26 players take to the courts, with Sam Cleland and Josh Kay (A Grade men), Rowan Popowski and James Arnold (B Grade men) and Paige Ferguson and Leanne Gifford (women) taking out top honours.

Cleland, who last appeared on the doubles winner board in 2012, was quick to deflect the praise onto his 16-year-old teammate for the success the pair achieved.

“Josh was the champion, he rose to the occasion and played well,” he said.

“Once again I was fortunate enough to have a great partner – it was great having someone who could run around the court.”

Cleland and Kay’s run of form began with a 6-4 victory over Stuart Smith and Tim Arnold, before losing to eventual finalists Ross Oswin and Greg Horton 4-6 and securing a final spot with a 6-3 win over Nathan Drake and Sam Porteus-Smith.

The A Grade men’s final played out in a best-of-three sets format, with Cleland and Kay withstanding strong opposition from Oswin and Horton to eventually take out the match 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

For the B Grade men, the team of Popowski and Arnold opened with a 6-0 win over Maxwell Pardo and Clae Ferguson, losing their second set 2-6 to Stephen Fisher and Paul Arnold before beating Bodey Dittloff and Isaac Popowski 6-4.

It was the last two players who would face the pair in the final, with Rowan Popowski claiming family bragging rights over nephew Isaac; hard-fought sets leading to the familiar scores of 6-4, 6-4.

In a packed women’s schedule, each pair played four games across the day, with Ferguson and Gifford (three sets, 20 games) earning a final spot along with Laura Berechree and Sally Grey (four sets, 24 games).

A tight tussle led to Ferguson and Gifford reversing their 2-6 defeat to Berechree and Grey earlier in the day, as they went on to record a 7-6, 6-4 win.

The next club tournament is scheduled for Saturday December 13, when the Mixed Doubles Championships will be contested.

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