Matt Crittenden has taken out the inaugural Benalla-only hardcourt singles championship.
Crittenden defeated Jason Boyle 7-5, 6-3 to become the first name on to the honour board and claim the title of Benalla’s best player for 2018.
Crittenden found his feet after a nervous start by both players. The first set went his way in under an hour and Boyle’s movement was restricted throughout the second set with an ankle injury helping Crittenden to keep control.
Tournament director Michael Levy said the tournament was a ‘‘raging success’’.
Sixteen of the best 20 or so players in and around town were invited to take part in the new, more competitive, championship.
‘‘We wanted to give the up-coming youngster and town’s best, most experienced players, a genuine platform to test who was in fact the best player in town and who can improve, given the opportunity to play singles.’’ Levy said.
The Gardens Tennis Club facilities will continue to host the five-week round robin and knockout matches each year, between January and February.
Next year’s championship will see some slight format changes to improve the event.
Any Benalla and district player who wishes to play singles, can challenge one of this year’s 16 players up until December 2018 to qualify into next year’s competition.
This means anyone in town can get active and involved — male or female and any age. A plate competition for the first eight knocked out of the championship will also be added next year to encourage development and participation.
Levy thanked the Gardens Tennis Club and committee for allowing the tournament to be created and acknowledged the assistance of Jeremie Boulanger and all the players who gave us their time to compete or help set up.
Sponsors are still being negotiated with, including Benalla Bowls Club, Schneider electrics and Benalla Rural City Council. Support has also been given by Sportspower and Mitre10.
While no commitments have been made yet, Levy said ‘‘without this potential support the championships would not be viable and we need to remember these groups support our community and give us opportunities to hold events like this and keep the town vibrant’’.
Gardens Tennis Club hopes the event becomes well established for many decades to come.
It will be the premium annual tournament for only local players which Benalla players of the future will all want to win. It gives a opportunity for the districts competitive players of any age and gender to test themselves against the town’s best.
●For information on annual Gardens memberships or entries for the 2019 championships, phone Michael Levy on 0433520809.