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 age division titles at the Elbow Park U12/U16 Champs tournament in Calgary.
Jena Cheng cruised to the U16 girls’ title, keeping her undefeated record in Alberta intact, with a 6-13 victory over second-seed Demi Henschel in the championship match. Edmonton native Cheng only lost nine games in three matches, downing Maki Oba 6-2, 6-0 in the first round and dumping Ally Miller 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals. Henschel defeated Maja Dragovic 6-2, 6-4 in the first round and downed Ashleigh Jacobs 6-2, 6-2 in the semis.
Akhil Mehta had to work a bit harder to win the U16 boys’ title on the clay of Elbow Park. After two easy matches that saw the Edmontonian defeat Jackson Koke 6-0, 6-0 and dump fourth-seed Jeffrey James 6-0, 6-2, Mehta squeaked past second-seed Harrison Scott 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-2 in the final.
Scott defeated Josh Peck 6-2, 6-0 in the first round, defeated Benigno Gabriel Rojas-Unate 6-1, 6-2 in the quarter-finals and bested third-seed Alexander Berdnikoff 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals.
The U12 events saw both top-seeds breeze through the draw. Ashleigh Jacobs, the High River Hurricane, defeated second-seed Kirsten Prelle 6-2, 6-1 in the girls’ final. Jacobs defeated Tianna Jerome 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and toppled Tereza Simonova 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals. Prelle defeated Karin Hamilton 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and got past Maya Dukaric in the semis.
Maximillian Szczypien defeated third-seed Daniel Wolfman 6-1, 6-3 in the boys’ U12 final. Szczypien dumped Yanozie Amadike 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter-finals and defeated Matush Polakovic 6-3, 6-2 in the semis. Wolfman toppled Oscar Gent 6-0, 6-0 in the quarters and edged Andres Barrero 6-1, 2-6, 12-10 in the semis. The unseeded Barrero upset second-seed Danny Wu 7-5, 1-6, 10-6 in the quarter-finals.