A teenage rising tennis star from Barellan won the open women’s singles title at the 102nd annual Griffith MIA Open without losing a single game over the June King’s Birthday long weekend.
In an unprecedented feat, Jane Haeusler, 18, collected six tennis ”bagels” – meaning she won every set she played 6-0 – on her perfect run to be crowned champion of the premier ladies’ singles event.
She also teamed up with Griffith physiotherapist Megan Polkinghorne and Griffith Tennis Club president Danny Dossetor to dominate the open ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles respectively, picking up a further five bagels and losing just seven games in the entire tournament.
The MIA Open is one of Australia’s biggest yearly tennis tournaments, attracting about 200 competitors from across regional Victoria, NSW and the ACT. Stars of the sport such as Nick Kyrgios and Sam Groth have played in Griffith in past years.
Haeusler is the first MIA Open champion in several years to hail from Barellan – a town perhaps best known for producing one of Australia’s greatest-ever tennis players, Evonne Goolagong. A practice wall in Mulga Street where a young Goolagong spent thousands of hours hitting a ball with a small homemade wooden bat is now known as the Evonne Wall.
“I used to sneak out of school at lunchtime and hit against the Evonne Wall,” Haeusler said.
She attended Barellan Central School until year 10 before heading to Brisbane to pursue a professional career, after which she competed in a major Women’s Tennis Association event in India. A wrist injury put her out of action for eight months, with the MIA Open being her comeback tournament.
“It’s good to be back; now I just want to travel the world and play tennis,” she said.
The men’s open singles title at the Griffith tournament was won by perennial champion Danny Dossetor, who came back from a set down in the final to win in a tiebreak in the deciding third set.
Griffith North Public School’s assistant principal Andrew Noad won the Over-45 men’s singles title and also caught up with his former coach Margot Dickson, a surprise visitor to the event, who flew down from Queensland.
Several other big names in the club’s history returned to Griffith for the Open, including 19 members of the extended Condon family, who travelled from Sydney and Wagga. The children and grandchildren of longtime club supporter, the late Tom Condon, who has a court named after him, have been regular participants in the event for several years. On the weekend, several Condon in-laws joined them.
Andrew Condon, Tom’s son, who entered his first Open in 1973, reflected on his father’s legacy.
“He was very dedicated. If he saw it raining, he would rush out to the courts and dig ditches so the water would drain off the playing area.”
Andrew teamed up with brother Dan to win an event known as the ”Centenary Doubles”, which was created to celebrate the 100-year-plus legacy of the tournament. To qualify for the event, the ages of both players combined must exceed 100. Other novelty events included father-son, mother-daughter and parent-child round robins.
A few special guests attended the weekend’s tournament, including Ian Goolagong, brother of Evonne and the only Indigenous male to ever play in the Wimbledon championships (when he partnered his sister in mixed doubles). Wodonga’s Phil Shanahan, former coach of Sam Groth and nephew of tennis great Margaret Court, also played in a few events.
Griffith Tennis Club committee members and tournament organisers Danny Dossetor, Robyn Meehan, Matt Hockings, Brad Hornery, Jack Clifford and Lorraine Maxwell thanked the main sponsor, SunRice, as well as the many volunteers who prepared the venue and provided meals and service at the canteen.