2014 ITF World Individual Championships – Ali Bey Turkey
The Men’s 65 Singles draw had 104 nominations in a 128 draw format. I received a bye in the first round because of my 23 seeding position. The morning was spent keeping an eye on other Australians playing their first round matches. Ray West drew Otto Dressler from Germany and after losing the first set 2-6 he settled in to win the next 6-4 and 6-1 to move to the second round. Neville Rodwell drew Manuel Martinez-Lavin from Spain and showed some steady form to win 6-2 6-2. Wayne Hassett was seeded six and also received a bye.
Day 2 and my match against Hermann Schwinger (a good German name) was drawn for 8.30 and we were allocated to Centre Court. Hermann had defeated a Frenchman Rene Vetsel 6-1 6-3 the previous day, however he must enjoy coming to these events as I beat him 6-2 6-0.
There are all sorts in this event ranging from weak to very strong on clay but with few points. You never know what your next opponent is capable of. Neville was down 0-5 against Helmut Flagel from Norway and with an injured elbow approached Helmut to forfeit the match. Helmut insisted that he was ill and handed the match to Neville. Wayne was carrying an injury and drew court E2 which was half in the shadow of the resort next door and a very poor surface. He lost his match to Frans Norby from Norway 6- 2 6-2. Ray struck 29th seeded Jean Claude Rancon from France and played a tough first set losing 7-5 and the second 6-2.
Day 3 Wednesday. I was drawn to play Henrik Andren from Norway who beat 15th seed Jeremy Woods in a tough three set tie breaker match. Although not having points because of knee surgery this year he had been ranked as high as number 3 the previous year. Not good for me and I could not get the range on me drives and lost 6-2 6-3. Need three more months on the clay and borrow an odd big first service from Dennis Love. I nearly got into the second set but his drives were very deep and mine were going long as usual. Last man to stand Neville took some of my Nurofen tablets overnight and faced up to 26th seeded Wilfried Siwitza from Germany. Neville played well considering his injury and lost in a tight match 6-4 7-5. Wayne & I won our first round doubles 6-0 6-2 but Ray & Neville lost theirs to the German 6th seeded pair of Gerd Dahmen & Gerhard Pfitzer 6-3 6-3
Day 4 Thursday. As Wayne & I were not drawn until 3pm Ray & Meg and Neville & Julie and I went up to coast to see the Roman village of Side. On return Wayne & I played Frans Norby & Kasper Rud from Norway and lost 6-1 6-3. A pretty poor display from our side with many errors while they never missed a shot. Another lesson on the clay.
Margaret Harris from Melbourne & I teams up for the mixed doubles and won our first match on Monday 6-4 6-1 against a Finnish pair. Our next match against the South African pair of John Lomas & Ann Hide was not easy feat. Ann had good results in her singles and we had to tighten the belt to win 7-5 6-3. Rain interrupted play on Friday and Margaret delayed her flight back to London until midnight in the hope that we would get on the court against the British 3 seeds of Richard Tutt and Shirley Fox. We did make it on court late and were whitewashed 6-1 6-1 by a very solid pair.
And so ends my tournament. Beat the easy opponents but could not get amongst the experienced clay courters. Overall an enjoyable week at a great venue and the company of fellow Australians.
On the Saturday when I went up to Antalya Airport to collect our car, a huge thunderstorm struck and completely flooded the courts at lunchtime. By 4pm they resumed and another thunderstorm cancelled play for the day. It was amazing that with so much rain that they could even get on the courts let alone play.
Jorge Camina Borda (the Spaniard who I saw win the European Championships in the 60 age group back in 2011 at Austria and the event in Geneva) seeded number one did not drop a set to win the event. Andrew Rae lost the final of the 60 singles to Javier Lazcano-Hernandez from Spain. The German Peter Adrigan who I played in the Austrian tournament has moved up into the 70 age group and won the event also without losing a set. The 75 singles was an all Australian affair with Bob Howes number one seed and favoured to win, giving a walkover to 10th seed Don Biddle who had the best fortnight of his life, winning the Teams event & the Individual event. Congratulations Don.
ITF World Teams Championships – Ali Bey Club, Turkey
Arrived in Turkey after 48hr journey, and Friday & Saturday as practice days.
The Ali Bey Club is a great venue and they have accommodation for around 2000 guest and are housed is 30 two story blocks with 28 units each. There are 62 Clay Courts, 3 pool areas, a beach and water slide & pool park. Two separate eating areas by the pools and one down along side the beach.
Sunday, captain Ray West was required to attend the captains meeting and receive instructions on the draw process. The original entries was 24 and would have been 8 pools of three teams, however two teams withdrew leaving 22. Six pools of three and one pool of four. As we were 8th seed they lumped 7, 8 & 9 together plus one more. So our four were Netherlands, Australia, Austria & Poland.
The first three days was a round robin of each pool, and then teams would be sorted into three groups for the knock outs, teams one to eight, nine to 16 and 17 to 22 with the result that you would have a match ever day, win or lose and their would be a final ranking from one to 22.
We were lucky enough to draw Poland for the first match out on court E1 which is out in front of the new complex and had only been recently laid. Difficult conditions on the loose surface, however we all go a win in two sets and it was satisfying to get a win under the belt. Austria beat the Netherlands 2-1.
Tuesday’s draw was against Netherlands who were a little sore after yesterdays defeat. My opposition Henk Korteling was way too good on the clay and never hit a ball out. That’s a problem for me and I lost 6-1 6-3. Wayne on the other hand was playing Hans Adama Van Scheltema and lost the first set 6-4 but rebounded to win the second 6-1. With new balls Hans bounced back and lead 4-2 but with the wearing of the balls Wayne clawed his way back into the match and won the third set 6-4 to square the tie. Henk paired with Peter Vaarties against Neville & Ray and took the doubles 6-2 6-1 and the match 2-1.
Wednesday, Austria, Wayne came up sore after yesterdays match and elected to stand down for the day. I was promoted to number one and Neville played the first match against Gerhard Thaler losing a tight first set 7-5 and then was overcome in the second 6-2.
My opponent Helmut Flagel was a big left hander but that did not seem to be the problem, it was his consistent down the line shot which caused me the most trouble losing 6-3 6-2. I really need another months practice on the clay to gain some consistency. I adjusted my service to three quarter pace first ball in, otherwise they jump all over the second service. Would have liked to call on a couple of Dennis’s first serves. Helmut doubled up with Maximillian Scwelberger to defeat Neville & Ray 6-2 and a tight 7-5.
Austria with three wins took first place, Netherlands second, Australia third & Poland forth. This meant Australia & Poland were in the 15 to 22 playoff group.
We drew Norway and I went down again 6-1 6-1 while Wayne won his singles 7-5 6-2 and Neville & Ray lost the first 6-4 but rebounded to win the second 6-1 but in a tight third set lost 6-4.
That loss meant we were now playing Belarus for 19th spot which we won 3-0 and played Turkey in that final and won also 3-0
We came into the tournament in 8th spot but with a 19th this year, we have left a legacy for next years team. The ranking system is over five years with 100% this year 80% of last years, 60% of year three, 40% of year four and 20% of year five.
As Wayne summed it up at our farewell dinner, we came to play our best on the clay and enjoy the week and that we did. The team gelded well and we all enjoyed each others company including our partners.
The official dinner by the pool and the evening on the beach were most enjoyable.
Representing our country was a great honour and supporting the other Australian teams in their endeavours was a privilege. Seven of the ten teams nominated reached the semi finals and the Mens 75+ won their group.