‘Twas a lovely weekend for a spot of tennis as the 48th annual Sunshine Coast Open Tennis Tournament commenced Friday afternoon, starting with the first-round matches of the mixed doubles and men’s singles draws. No big surprises in the first round as the usual suspects advanced and the pecking order started to unfold.
Many new entries graced the tennis grounds, with high-level players hearing whispers of the legendary event. There were, of course, also long-standing local champions, for whom outsiders licked their lips with the chance to topple. Yet once again, the locals thwarted the invasion of the many jousters coming from the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and as far as India, Austria, and the UK.
The mixed doubles had the largest draw, filling up with 16 entries, which whittled its way down throughout Saturday until four teams remained for the championship. Michael and Selkie Smith of Victoria fended off the ever tricky and aggressive net play of Adele and Kevin Wood of Sandy Hook, squeaking out a thriller ending 12-10 in a third set tiebreak. The Smiths then went on to defeat the dangerous Gord Halloran and Sandra Watt, setting up a rematch for revenge against those pesky yet loveable stalwarts, Gus Guzek and Shelley Lawrence. Guzek and Lawrence, with a special feel for the home court grass, prevailed to lift their trophy once again, 6-3,6-3.
It was nice to see the women’s doubles heavily filled with local Coasters. In the end, it was the long-time duo of Shelley Lawrence and Sandra Watt, after having long rallies throughout the match against the speedy team of Simi Athwal and Cielo Lyle-Shortt, prevailing 6-2, 6-2.
Women’s singles only had five participants this year (calling any Sunshine Coast women for 2024, come play) and had our local Janet Schembri defend her title with her consistent cat-and-mouse rallies against a prospective new player to the tournament, Mariana Mueller, 6-1, 6-3.
Men’s doubles and singles had a lot of new entries creating a lot of anticipation for the outcomes. The semis had Steven Lorenzo-Bailey and Michael Smith of Victoria pitted against Joe Singh and Simerpreet Sidhu of the Fraser Valley. The game seesawed with tactical adjustments right up until the end, with Joe and Simer scraping through, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. The other semi had Ian MacKenzie teaming up with the third ranked player in India, Samerpreet Singh, against defending champs, Otto Grunow and Gus Guzek. The uncle-nephew posse, Gus and Otto, came out voraciously and wouldn’t succumb to the new master blaster, winning 6-1, 6-3. But, Samerpreet would go on to taste the metallic joy of biting down on the men’s singles trophy, ousting our perennial champion, Chad Brachat, 6-0, 6-1. In the doubles final, Otto and Gus defended their cup, having lubed their well-oiled machine defeating Joe and Simerpreet, 6-2, 6-1.
Thank you to the organizers Darcy and Shelley Lawrence and continued support from the sponsors making this a renowned event to be proud of here on the Sunshine Coast. The tournament filled up quickly and is basically at capacity every year. If you’re a local and want to enter in 2024, keep an eye out for posters and visit sunshinecoastopen.com.