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***
American pro Chris Wettengel won the men’s title at the Racquet Central Prince Open in Calgary on Sunday.
Wettengel , the top seed, defeated second-seed Philip Gubenco of Longueil, QC 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in the championship match Sunday at the Calgary Tennis Club. The win was redemption for Wettengel, who fell 7-5 in a third-set tiebreaker to Nima Roshan in last year’s final.
Wettengel cruised through his opening match with a 6-1, 6-0 pasting of Jordi Escarrabil Vilanova. He had a bit of trouble with sixth-seed Brett Joelson, also of the USA in the quarter-finals, winning 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 before taking out fourth-seed Oren Motevassel of the USA 6-3, 6-4 in the semis.
Gubenco had an easier road to the final, defeating Edmonton junior Tobiasz Strozyk 6-0, 6-0 in the first round, taking out David Waslen 6-0, 6-4 in round two, beating eighth-seed David Chu of B.C. 6-3, 6-3 in the quarters and dispatching B.C.’s Henry Choi, the third-seed 7-5, 6-3 in the semis.
The tournament marked the return of Calgary’s Dietmar Rautenbach to competition after a lengthy absence. Rautenbach, now a teaching pro at the Glencoe Club, defeated qualifier, Edmonton junior Jordan Sluchinski, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round, edged seventh-seed Kamil Pajkowski of B.C. 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) in the second round before falling 6-3, 6-1 to Motevassel.
Other notable Alberta players in the tournament included Dennis Simsek, who defeated Edmonton junior Akhil Mehta 6-1, 6-3 in the first round before falling 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to the eighth-seeded Chu in the second round. Edmonton’s Carson Bell fell 6-3, 6-1 in the first round to fellow Albertan Samuel Garforth-Bles while Alberta’s top junior, Edmonton’s Luke Manley, won his first round 6-3, 7-6 over Zack Lister but fell 6-2, 6-2 to Joelson in round two. Harrison Scott, Alberta’s top U14 player, qualified for the tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Tom Gregory but was then dispatched 6-0, 6-2 by Waslen in the first round.
Other qualifiers, all juniors, included Calgary’s Jimmy Le and Westin Bennett along with Edmonton’s Jordan Sluchinski. All four lost in the first round of the main draw; Le fell 6-0, 6-0 third-seed Choi while Bennett dropped a 6-3, 6-4 decision to Jordi Escarrabil Vilanova.
On the women’s side, top-seeded American Maureen Diaz cruised to victory, losing just five games in three matches. Diaz thumped second-seed Monica Neveklovska 6-0, 6-3 in the final. She battered Kelly McNabbey 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals and defeated Dani Gryckiewicz by the same score in the first round.
Jena Cheng, Alberta’s top junior, defeated Camilla Knight 6-0, 6-0 in the first round before falling 6-7, 6-1, 6-1 to Neveklovska in the semifinals. Among other notable Albertans, Kirsten Scott defeated Dominca Nemec 6-4, 6-1 in the first round before losing 6-2, 6-2 to Neveklovska in the quarter-finals, while Mikaela Bennett dropped a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) decision to Monica Silenzi in the first round.
Unseeded Ellen Toth won the women’s 5.0 title at the event. Toth defeated top-seed Karla Lima 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals before dispatching second-seed Barbara Maier 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 in the final.