Consistent champions

A-Grade Men’s singles champion Nathan Drake advances to hit a volley during a 6-4, 6-3 win over Josh Kay on Saturday. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Tournament. Warm conditions and a singles format tested the individual abilities of players on Saturday as tennis wrapped up for another season.

Seventeen entries in Smithton Tennis Club’s Singles Championships led to four different grades being contested on the day; the men divided into three divisions and a trophy also set aside for the women.

Smithton’s Nathan Drake emerged with his fifth singles title in the A-Grade Men, joined again on the winner’s list by Stanley’s Sally Collins whose name already appears seven times on the singles championship boards in the clubrooms.

To clinch the Women’s singles trophy, Collins comprehensively won her three group games before coming up against Laura Berechree in the final, taking the best-of-three decider in two sets (6-0, 6-3).

Four of the region’s best male players contested the A-Grade Men’s title, with Drake and 16-year-old Josh Kay both winning their sets against Jonathan Smith and Damien Barker in the group stages to advance directly into the final.

A hard-fought match with several entertaining rallies led to an exciting game of tennis, with Drake taking the first set 6-4 before following through in the second 6-3 to earn the win.

The 23-year-old, who didn’t play the midweek roster this season but returned to play in the championships, praised the efforts of his younger opponent in saying “he couldn’t have done too much more”.

“I thought I was pretty shaky, so I just tried to play consistent tennis,” Drake said. “I just got the ball nice and deep and didn’t try to hit too many winners.”

Five players took part in the A-Reserve Men’s tournament, with Bodey Dittloff and Tim Arnold each earning three sets in the group stage to advance to the final.

Although Dittloff eventually came out on top in a gruelling three-set marathon (5-7, 6-4, 6-3), the match hung in the balance until the final minutes with Arnold taking some consolation from a total of five aces for the match.

The B-Grade grand final was played off between Ashley Popowski and Tim House, with Popowski – a newly inducted life member of the club – taking out the contest in straight sets (6-1, 6-2).

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