Records, Comebacks and Mixed results – The 21st Australian Tennis Championships
An exciting week of tennis at the 21st Australian Tennis Championships in Melbourne had it all, record breaking performances, amazing comebacks and an exciting new event, the mixed doubles.
New South Wales’ Kelly Wren has dominated women’s tennis for more than 20 years, and no event more than the Australian Tennis Championships. Kelly won the first event in 1998 and on Saturday at Melbourne Park she defeated Victoria’s Carla Lenarduzzi 6-3, 6-0 to take out her 21st title. Amazingly Wren has not lost a set in those 21 years, her biggest challenge came in 2004 when Queensland’s Kathryn Wilson took her to 5-7 in the first set.
While Kelly and Carla were battling it out for the women’s singles, on an adjacent court World Number 1 Archie Graham from Queensland and current Australian Champion Sam Von Einem (South Australia) were slugging it out for the men’s title.
In their first match-up since last year’s Championship decider, Von Einem dominated the first set winning 6-0 and it looked like he was set to repeat his victory over Graham and win his second National title. Down 0-2 in the second set Graham had other thoughts and amazingly broke back winning 6 of the next 7 games to take the second set 6-3. The third set was an amazing battle between two outstanding players with Graham emerging victorious 6-4 to regain his Australia title. “The contest was exceptional” quoted Robyn Smith CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia.
Graham has now won 5 Australian Singles Championship titles 2 more than any other male player. The women’s doubles final saw both singles finalists backing up on different sides of the net again. Wren partnered with Victoria’s Sharon Morse and Lenarduzzi partnered with Queensland’s Kathryn Wilson. As in the singles, Wren had won every doubles title since the first in 2000. The teams had met in the past three Championship deciders, all going the way of Wren and Morse.
Playing some of her best tennis for years Wilson and Lenarduzzi proved too strong for the defending Champions winning 6-2, 6-3 in one of the upsets of the Championships.
Queensland pairing of Mitchell James and Josh Holloway took on the defending champions and Silver medallists from the last INAS World Championships Archie Graham (QLD) and Damian Phillips (NSW) in the final of the men’s doubles. It was the third time the teams had met in the Championship decider with Holloway and James winning in 2014 and Graham and Phillips in 2016. James and Holloway got off to a great start winning the first set 6-3 and continued their form into the second winning 6-4 to win their third Doubles title.
The 2018 Australian Tennis Championships will be remember for a number of reasons but importantly the introduction of Mixed Doubles.
South Australia’s Sam Von Einem and Queensland’s Yasmin Sanders earned their place in the history books as the inaugural Australian Mixed Doubles Champions. It was a title they had to work hard for taking on the Bronze medallists from the last INAS World Championships Archie Graham (QLD) and Carla Lenarduzzi (VIC) in the semi final 6-4 and then the current World Champions Damian Phillips (NSW) and Kelly Wren (NSW) in the final 5-3, 4-1.
Having watched the two doubles finals INAS Global Games – Brisbane 2019 ambassador Pat Rafter presented the players with their trophies along with Sport Inclusion Australia Ambassador Wally Masur. Both Masur and Rafter had commented on the quality of play but also on the terrific sportsmanship demonstrated from the Men and Women.
“The Australian Tennis Championships is the pinnacle event on the calendar worldwide for players with an intellectual impairment, obviously the World Championships has its prestige, but the Australian Championships being run alongside the Australian Open on amazing courts at Albert Reserve and Melbourne Park provides an amazing experience and competition second to none.” Robyn Smith
“Without the support of Tennis Australia, Lord’s Taverners Australia Victoria Branch and the Victorian Government, we would not be able to put on such a magnificent event.” Smith said
The 2018 INAS World Tennis Championships will be held in Paris in July, Tennis Australia are set to announce the players to represent Australia in the coming days. The Championships will be held during the INAS European Games in Paris from 15 to 22 July. Australia dominated the 2017 INAS World Championships winning the men’s singles, Ladies Doubles and mixed doubles and finishing runners up in the Ladies singles and men’s doubles.
With quality and depth of players growing from year to year Australia looks set to go into the 2019 INAS Global Games in Brisbane not only full of confidence but also with a full quota of players. The INAS Global Games will be held in Brisbane in October 2019 and will incorporate the INAS World Tennis Championships.
Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia: 0418 979 459
Alison Scott, Head Coach Australian Team: 0405 558 172
Jay Schuback, Tennis Australia: 0466 351 434