Tennis Croatia now completed to Oct 1st and final.
Friday 18th September 2015 – Arrived at Umag around 2 pm after our flight from Malaga, via Rome & Trieste.
Settled into the hotel to be ready for 4pm practice arranged by Captain Alan Walsh with team members George Collins, Terry McLellan and myself. There are six courts at the front of the hotel and Alan had booked one for 4pm; just a basic hit and a few drills seeing Alan & Terry had arrived direct from their 20-hour flight.
Saturday 19th, we took a drive over to the ATP Stadium venue to register, have our photos taken and receive name tags and gift bags. Drove an extra kilometer down the road to our allocated courts at the Tennis Academy for a two-hour practice session. Team drills for about an hour and then a set of match play to get used to these courts.
Sunday 20th practice was arranged for 9.30, as Alan had to attend the Captain’s meeting at 11am where the ranking are discussed with two alterations allowed and then the official draw is worked out.
Alan met the team at 12.30 in the foyer of the hotel to report the meeting outcome. We had dropped from 5th to 6th ranking after Germany had been elevated above us. With 22 teams in the Jack Crawford Men’s 70 Cup, they were divided into six groups of three teams and one group of four teams. Australia, Zimbabwe & Norway drawn in the sixth group. Looked like a reasonable draw with Australia to play Zimbabwe on Monday, Norway on Tuesday and a bye on Wednesday. Being home team on Monday we would have practice between 8.20 and 8.40 with the match to start at 10am.
At 5pm we went over to the ATP Stadium to attend the official opening ceremony. Each country selected four of their players to carry their national flag onto the centre court, Australia choosing their four newest competitors.
Around 40 countries were represented with Croatia being the final country to enter the stadium. Speeches from the officials were followed by folk dancing from the host country and then competitors and friends returned to the forecourt for drinks and nibbles.Players lined up near the palm tree for official team photos.
Monday 21st Left the hotel at 8am for official practice between 8.20 & 8.40. Formal introduction to the Zimbabwe team at 9.45 with exchange of gifts. Gae purchased sufficient 1940 – 1949 pennies with King George as the head and the Kangaroo as the tail so that we could supplement the Tennis Australia badge. Number one & two players Roger Dowdeswell and Hank Irvin had played on the circuit between 1968 and 1972 and knew Bob Rheinberger at the time. Their third player Clive Kileff and his brother with Roger & Hank represented their school more than 50 years ago but now live in the USA because of the political changes that had occurred in their homeland.
Number two singles commenced at 10am with Australia’s Terry McLellan taking control of the first match and securing a handy 6-1 6-1 win over Hank Irvine. Terry displayed his dominance with strong serving, attacking returns and a series of well controlled drop shots.
In the number two singles George Collins got away with an early break on Roger and held on to take the first set 6-4. Roger turned up the heat in the second set and with a series of deadly drop shots and drives into the corners devastated George taking the set 6-0. I was sitting in the Captains chair and could not offer and suggestions in what I would describe as a flawless set from Roger. Third set break with the court being watered and new balls saw George break Roger in the first and third game to go to a three-love lead. Roger returned with two breaks on George to level at three games all. Roger’s next serve saw him make three early errors before recovering to 30-40 but George closed out the game. George’s next serve see-sawed from side to side and after several add points he was able to hold serve and go to a 5-3 lead. Roger displayed a few nerves in his next service game dropping to 0-30, which George capitalized on and secured the win for Australia.
Team captain Alan Walsh and John Rheinberger completed a clean sweep with a 6-0 6-2 win over Hank and Clive.
Tuesday 22nd George came up a little sore after yesterday’s singles, so Terry stepped up to number one and Alan took on the role of number two singles player. Alan took on Trond Christiansen who I lost to last year in the 65 group. Trod elected to receive so Alan served with the sun behind him, however Trod showed his intensions early with a drop shot on the second point followed up with some great returns down the line and across court to break serve. A held serve gave Trod a two-love lead and it took Alan some steady tennis to break back and take the set 6-4. A tough second set with many drop shots and severe backhand slices to the corners provided difficult conditions for Alan. There were opportunities for Alan however when they got to the tiebreaker, Trod excelled and won 7-2.
A ten minute break, watering of the court and new ball did not help Alan. Trod immediately started with drop shots and with the wet court they proved very effective. Alan was unable to reply and Trod went on to win the third set 6-1
Terry was apposed to Kjell Worren for Norway and played some outstanding tennis to win 6-2 6-3 and level the match at one rubber each.
Terry then paired with Alan against the Norwegian pair Trond and Lars Jahnsen. The Australian pair showed their doubles experience to win 6-1 6-2 and secure the win for Australia. With a bye on Wednesday Australia advance to the 1-7 group and will face Germany on Thursday.
Thursday 23rd Terry lined up to play the German number two singles player Karl-Heinz Schaefer in the first singles of the day. Drops shots were again the order of the day and Terry handed out as much as he got. A couple of breaks each way but in the end they reached six all. Terry stayed strong and went on to win the tie breaker 7-3. Karl achieved an early break in the second and went on to win 6-4. Terry kept it tight in the third set and was leading 4-3 when as he said he rang out of legs and lost 6-4.
George was facing world number one Peter Adrigan in his singles and started badly losing the first set 6-2. He rallied in the second and started to play his strokes and had opportunities to win the set at 5-4 and again at 6-5 but failed to hold his serve on both occasions. With a display of great shots, George lead 5-0 in the tie breaker only to lose the next seven points and the match.
With the match lost Alan & John took the court against Gerhard Groell and Heinz Wagner and won the doubles 6-2 6-2. A win would have seen us in the Semi Finals, a loss meant we will be playing off for 5th position.
Friday 25th Terry was on court first against France’s number two Michel Berges. This was sure to be a difficult match and a lot of tennis ahead. A couple of breaks early but finally Terry secured the first set 6-3.
A slump in the second and France roared ahead 6-1. Time to recover and dig in and that what Terry did with some rallies stretching to 15 stokes. At 5-2 and serving, Terry had 40-0 before a backhand into the net lead to a collapse and loss of the next five points. Michel served out the next game and it was back to Terry to take command and this he did when after reaching 40-30 and Michel netted the next return of serve. After two and a half hours Terry had the win but there was only fumes left in the tank and the thighs needed some physio treatment after the match.
George faced France’s number one Gery Ple and found the wet condition difficult going. A broken string necessitated a change of racket which was strung at a lower tension and this effected George’s ability to drop shot, a key part of his game. Overall Gery was too consistent and won 6-2 6-1 to level the match at one all.
Alan and John faced Michel Coutrix and Gery in the decider. They secured an early break and held on to win the set 6-4. John’s pace and heavy topspin cross court was giving the French something that they are not used to. Two brakes of serve and the Aussies look to be on their way to a win, however a lapse of concentration saw both Alan and John lose their serve and suddenly it was three all. Four all and five all before the Aussies broke and Alan held serve to secure the win for Australia and 5th place out of 22 nations.
The semi finals were delayed on Thursday due to rain and did not commence until 3.30pm when Austria faced Germany and Netherlands played USA. The Austrian’s won the doubles after leveling the singles a one apiece. The Netherlands also won the doubles after squaring the singles to take them to the finals against Austria.
Netherlands won the first singles 6-2 6-0 but Hans Heissl captured the second singles 6-4 7-5 in a very tight match. It was all down to the doubles and with Netherlands taking the first set in a tie breaker, Austria took the second set 7-5 and Netherland lead 5-3 and 40-0 but lost that game and the set 7-5 and the title.
A great event and some wonderful tennis played and viewed.
World Individual Championships 2015
Sunday 27th September Although I was ranked around 27th on the acceptance list I did not get a seed because there were on 89 in the draw which means 16 are seeded and 32 seeds if there are 96 or more players. With around 40 byes in the 128 draw, I was the only team member to have a first round match.
My match was against Franc Bradan from Slovenia who was a typical European type player who took every opportunity to drop shot and could run almost anything down although he was not a great player. I was able to practice a few of my drop shots but still keep an eye on the overall score to ensure I could win. A win did come at 6-1 6-3 but I will need another 10 years to get the forehand drop short working.
Monday 28th All four teams members were drawn at 11am on the back courts at ATP Stadium Centre. Four Aussie yellow shirted players on four courts in a row. No protection from the cross wind which could be described as a westerly July wind on court three at Bega. I was on court five against Hugh Thompson former Aussie from south west WA but moved to the USA 51 years ago and now lives in Atlanta and was world number one around ten years ago.
Conditions were difficult but Hugh was more effected than I. There were a number of chances to put my stamp on the match but a few loose shots at the wrong time cost me the match 6-4 6-4. Hugh went on to defeat number one seed Peter Adrigan in the next round.
A few bags if this clay would go well at Buckajo court.
Meanwhile Terry McLellan disposed of Norman Church (GBR) 6-1 6-1 on court four. Alan Walsh was on court three and won his match against wild card entrant Serge Guerin (FRA) 6-3 6-2. George Collins defeated Ezio Damolin (ITA) 6-2 6-1 on court two.
I returned at 4.30 to play the second round Mixed with Margaret Harris (we had a bye in the first round as we were seeded 4) against Sofia Garaguly & Klaus Kreuzhuber (AUT) on the same court five. By now the wind had removed all the fines and they would not water the court as it would become sticky & not playable. Two breaks of serve to give us 3-0 then walkabout to 3-3, 4-4 and then we put the foot on the throttle and won 6-4 6-0
Tuesday 29th Terry played his third round match against wild card Fritz Fink (GER) and won 6-0 6-1 but Alan faced number four seed Hans Heissl (GER) and lost 6-4 6-4. He felt he played well but was never in the match.George won his match against 10th seed Levente Bakony (HUN) 7-5 6-2.
Wednesday 30th George faced number two seed Petr Kolacek (SUI) and found the going tough with many drop shots and good strokes. A loss 6-3 6-1
Terry’s forth round against Massimo Montemessi (ITA) was to be a tight affair with Terry playing some good ground stokes to win the first set 6-2. His coach opponent rallied in the second set to lead 3-0 and looked well in control, however Terry found another gear finally won 6-4 to seal the match.
Margaret Harris and I fronted up at 4.30 to play our next round of mixed against Brigitte Hoffmann (GER) & Horst Bitschkus (GER). Brigitte had won the event last with another partner but he went into the 75 year group this time. Mind on the business this time and we won 6-2 6-4. My Achilles was giving me trouble and we were forced to withdraw from the semi finals which was scheduled for Friday.
Terry was the last man standing but lost to the 7th seed Richard Johnson (USA) 6-2 2-6 6-1 on Thursday.
Terry & Alan were seeded 4th in the doubles and lived up to their position and eventually fell to the 2nd seeded pair Petr Kolacek (SUI) & Johannes Muehlenburg (AUT) in the semi finals 6-2 3-6 [10-7]
Signing off from the 2015 World Championships in Croatia