7 October 2022

Star absences leave Griffith Tennis Championship open for international talent

| Oliver Jacques
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Man with a tennis racquet

Former B-grade champion Stephen Munro has no expectations. That’s not how he operates. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Newcomers and lapsed players are invited to participate in the Griffith Tennis Championship, after a string of big-name withdrawals made the tournament the most competitive it’s been in the club’s 101-year history.

It will also be the most multicultural competition ever, with players from France, India, Colombia, Spain, Italy and Argentina expected to enter.

The annual event is to crown the best players in the Griffith region and for those of all skill levels to have some fun and celebrate their year in tennis. It will take place from 5 pm on Friday, 14 October, and Friday, 21 October.

“The singles and doubles will be played on 14 October and mixed doubles will be played on 21 October,” organiser Matt Hockings said. “For doubles, you can enter as a pair, but if you haven’t got a partner you can just enter, we’ll find you one.”

The entry fee is $10, which includes a barbecue. There is expected to be both an A grade, for advanced players, and B grade, for social players, in each category.

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The 2021 A-grade ladies’ champion Lindsey Jones recently made the shock announcement that she will not be defending her title this year.

“Like Serena Williams, I’ve had my time in the sun,” the US-born power hitter said. “Now’s the time for emerging talent at the club to shine.”

Last year’s A-grade men’s runner-up Ben Mahlknecht will also be missing, opting to instead dedicate his time to his university studies.

“Unfortunately I will not be able to make it back this year but it will be nice to see some newer talent playing in it this year,” he said.

Lylah Howard holds tennis racquet

Emerging star Lylah Howard. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Club stalwart Lachlan Condon is also out, meaning it could be the first tournament in Griffith in decades without the famous Condon name as a participant. Former B-grade winners Kurtis Brown and Robert Irvine are other surprise scratchings.

These absences open up the possibility of new names being etched onto the Griffith Tennis honour board. The 2020 B-grade champion Stephen Munro has announced he will compete in the A grade this year, but was coy about his chances of success at the top level.

“I don’t have any expectations. That’s not how I operate. I’m not here to win, I’m here to play good tennis,” he said.

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Defending A-grade champion and club president Danny Dossetor has quashed rumours of a Roger Federer-style retirement, indicating he will be back.

“Yeah, may as well,” he said.

Colombian star Juan Carlos Gomez, who won B grade last year, will also make the step up to the top level, competing in the singles and partnering with countryman Alejandro Carrera in the A-grade doubles.

Fiery Frenchman Xavier Boucher is expected to partner with Munro in the A-grade doubles, but says he gets too upset when he plays singles. Griffith’s Lachlan Date will be making a comeback to the courts and is on the lookout for a partner in both the men’s and mixed doubles.

All players in the Griffith area are welcome to join in the tournament, regardless of level. If you’d like to do so, you can email [email protected] to register your interest or obtain more information. You can also put your name down on a sheet at the clubhouse. Newcomers are also welcome to play mixed social tennis at 6:30 pm every Tuesday or men’s social on Thursdays from 7 pm.

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