After a ‘‘mammoth’’ three-hour final on Sunday, Dunedin’s Paddy Ou was crowned 2022 North Otago Grass Open men’s singles champion.
In a repeat of the 2020 final, Ou came up against Ryan Eggers to compete for the men’s singles title at the annual Oamaru tennis tournament. It was another three-set battle, Ou outlasting Eggers to take the match 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
But Eggers claimed top honours in the men’s doubles final. The Auckland-based tennis coach and Gavin Mockford had the edge over Ou and Oamaru’s Robin Jamieson, winning 6-3, 7-6.
The semifinals were also very close, with North Otago’s Josh Cochrane pushing Ou all the way, and Eggers and Auckland’s Stanley Long battling it out in three sets.
‘‘Josh was very close to being in the final, he almost got a set off Paddy who eventually won the title — he was a very strong contender in the men’s singles,’’ North Otago Tennis president Josh Dalziel said.
Ou and Eggers are ranked No 72 and 107 respectively in New Zealand men’s tennis, and Dalziel said they were a great boost for the tournament.
Oamaru’s Belinda Hirst claimed the women’s singles crown, after winning all three of her singles matches in a round robin. She had thrilling three-set battles against Mackenzie Phillips (6-4, 0-6, 10-7) and Nicky Fisher (4-6, 6-3, 10-2), and also beat Jane Brosnahan 6-1, 6-1.
‘‘It was great to see some close matches,’’ Dalziel said.
Hirst teamed up with Phillips to win the women’s doubles title, the pair conceding just seven games in the entire round robin.
The tournament was held over January 8 and 9, and 20 men and five women competed in their respective singles fields, while 10 men’s and four women’s pairings vied for doubles titles. About half the field was made up of local entries, with other players coming from Christchurch, Dunedin, Wanaka and Auckland to test themselves on grass.
Dalziel was pleased with entry numbers, especially the support from players outside the district, and with the high standard of tennis on display.
‘‘The fact we didn’t finish until 6.30pm on Saturday night, and 6pm on Sunday night probably shows how long some of these matches went and how close it was and how strong it was.’’
The North Otago senior club competition resumes next week and the region’s best players will soon start training for the second round of the Southern Open Teams Event in Dunedin in February. The North Otago closed tournament will be contested on March 26.