Veterans conquer Gold City Tennis Tournament

20th March 2017 11:40 AM
PERFECT FORM: Veteran player Tennis Frank Van Der Laan of The Sunshine Coast looks to serve a winner. PERFECT FORM: Veteran player Tennis Frank Van Der Laan of The Sunshine Coast looks to serve a winner. LEEROY TODD

STORMCLOUDS lingered but the rain stayed away as the Gold City Open Seniors Tennis Tournament came to a close at Queens Park Tennis Club on Sunday afternoon.

More than 120 people travelled to Gympie to compete in the tournament, with around 34 events staged in a packed weekend of tennis.

Tennis Kirsten Christiansen
COURT COVERAGE: Kirsten Christiansen hits a fine forehand from the back court. LEEROY TODD

Last week Kym Ireland told The Gympie Times that she may sit the tournament out, however The Times can report that she recovered to spring a surprise on her opposition.

Ireland completed her comeback and won the combined Women's Doubles on Friday afternoon and then the 45 Mixed on Saturday morning in a remarkable show.

As for the weather, Ireland was thankful the clouds held off.

"We were lucky we got it in before the weather,” she said.

"We were meant to get this bad rain but it held off so we had a good weekend of tennis.

"We did have one storm but it didn't impact too badly.

"It was hot and muggy but we had a good turnout.”

Tennis Bob Hanill Cairns
FROM NEAR AND FAR: Bob Hanill travelled all the way from Cairns for the tournament. LEEROY TODD

Former Gympie resident and tournament director Warren Arnell was runner-up in Men's Combined Doubles on Friday afternoon with Barry Hardingham.

Other local winners were Gavin Harm and Jenny Kachel, who were runners-up in the Over-40 Mixed (B-Grade) on Saturday morning.

Gympie Queens Park Tennis Club president Greg Hampson also played in the tournament, in between getting courts ready and looking after the grounds.

Ireland said he deserved much of the praise following the successful tournament.

"I know he was exhausted by Sunday afternoon, as he certainly had been a very busy person for the weekend and deserves a huge pat on the back for all the work he does for our club,” she said.

Tennis Barry Hardingham Gympie (Left) Mike Griffiths Brisbane (Right)
SPORTSMANSHIP: Barry Hardingham of Gympie (Left) Mike Griffiths of Brisbane (Right) shake hands after a tough match. LEEROY TODD

Local tennis veteran Barry Hardingham said his form was still elusive, following his retirement from the tournament possibly due to heatstroke.

"Well we were runners-up on the Friday afternoon. I kind of bombed out a bit, I was not well on the weekend.

"Sunstroke and a bit of heat I suppose.”

Hardingham is looking forward to the next tournament, and said it feels like his form is running away from him as he is running towards it.

"They all put me to shame, it's a liberating day when you realise you won't play like Roger Federer,” he said.

Tennis Peter Bilton Sunshine Coast
FOREHAND STRENGTH: The Sunshine Coast's Peter Bilton with a strong shot at the Queens Park Tennis Club. LEEROY TODD

The tournament proved a huge success and testament to the viability of the Queens Park Tennis Club.

"It was still, regardless of the temperature, a great tournament - everyone enjoyed the weekend and there was some good sportsmanship,” Hardingham said.

"It was fantastic, we had veritable rain - no washouts from what I know.

"It's always an exciting and interesting time to have these type of events.

"The fact we are one of the first tournaments in the season means a lot of players can attend, and I think that's why we get a lot of good numbers, being the first of the year.

Tennis Frank Van Der Laan Sunshine Coast
SCOOPING LOW: Frank Van Der Laan from The Sunshine Coast scoops a low ball with a fine backhand shot. LEEROY TODD

"It's fantastic this club can host these kind of competitions and make them a success and it keeps the club viable.”

The calibre of players was suitably high, with many top senior players coming from across Queensland.

"We had some of the number one players from the Sunshine Coast, a number of players from the Gold Coast, including a few Australian representative players.

"And we attracted a good crowd,” Hardingham said.

Tennis Jamie Fletcher Coolum Beach
BACKHAND: Jamie Fletcher of Coolum Beach shows flawless technique. LEEROY TODD