Written by: Christopher Simnett
***Chris grew up playing tennis in B.C. and was ranked as high as No. 2 provincially in the U12 and U16 divisions. He played in two junior national championships in the 80s. Now 39 years old, he is the “community champion” for the Tennis Canada Building Tennis Communities strategy in Airdrie, AB, where he lives with his wife and eight-year-old son. Chris spent 15 years as a journalist writing about sports for newspapers in B.C. and Alberta. He now works in public relations in Calgary. To learn more about Chris and his blog, please visit www.alltennis.ca***
All four top seeds won their respective titles at the Airdrie Open U14/U18 champs event in Airdrie on the May Long Weekend.
Jena Cheng of Edmonton (pictured at left with finalist Demi Henschel), won the U18 girls’ crown with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Demi Henschel. Cheng defeated Kelsi Oliphant 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals. Henschel upset second-seed Mikaela Bennett 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the other semifinal.
Bennett recovered to win the consolation crown, defeating Oliphant 6-2, 6-3 in the final.
Top-seed Claire Koke of Calgary won the U14 girls’ title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over High River’s Ashleigh Jacobs. Koke breezed through the draw, defeating Kirsten Prelle of Cochrane 6-3 6-0 in her first match and dumping Kiko Cunningham of Calgary 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Jacobs, unseeded in the tournament, defeated Madison Prelle 6-3, 7-5 in the first round and beat Maya Dukaric 6-1, 6-4 in the semis. Dukaric took out second-seed Maja Dragovic 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.
Kirsten Prelle won the consolation crown in the U14 girls’ division with a gutty 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 victory over Dragovic in the final.
In boys’ action, top-seed Mark Hamill of Red Deer won the U18 title with a championship match 6-3, 6-3 victory over Curran Wearmouth of Calgary. Hamill defeated Andre Selem de Stefano, a Brazilian exchange student living in Edmonton, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round and edged the third-seed, Edmonton’s Akhil Mehta, 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3 in the semifinals.
Wearmouth, the second-seed, defeated Calgary’s Westin Bennett 6-2, 7-6(5) in the quarter-finals and dumped Edmonton’s Kyle Sluchinski 6-4, 6-1 in the semis. Sluchinski defeated fourth-seed Tobiasz Strozyk of Edmonton 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
Mehta won the boys’ U18 consolation title, defeating Selem de Stefano 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in the final.
Top-seed Nolan Chan won the boys’ U14 title with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Edmonton’s Ayush Gupta in the final. Chan defeated Walter Hasick 6-0, 6-4 in the first round, edged Calgary’s Jackson Koke 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-finals, and defeated fourth-seed David Laschuk 6-1, 6-4 in the semis.
Gupta defeated Danny Wu 6-4, 6-2 in the first round, beat Calgary’s Alexandar Dragovic 6-1, 6-2 in the quarters and defeated third-seed Josh Peck of Calgary 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. Peck won the consolation crown, defeating Edmonton’s Gniewko Strozyk 7-6(1), 6-3 in the final.