Top tennis talent . . . Clockwise from right: Johnny McHarg (red shirt) and Perry Crockett (blue shirt) battle it out in the men's singles final of the North Otago Grass Open; Women's doubles winners Mackenzie Phillips and Rebecca Ryan with runners-up Angela Fitzgerald and Belinda Hirst; Men's doubles runners-up Josh Dalziel and McHarg with winners Paddy Ou and Robin Jamieson. PHOTOS: REBECCA RYAN/JOSH DALZIEL

For the first time in 19 years, a local player has claimed the North Otago Grass Open men’s doubles title.

The annual tennis tournament was held at the Chelmer St grass courts on Saturday and Sunday, and attracted players from as far away as Christchurch, Queenstown, Wanaka and Dunedin.

But the men’s doubles title was guaranteed to go to a local player when Robin Jamieson (Oamaru) and Paddy Ou (Dunedin) met Johnny McHarg (Christchurch) and Josh Dalziel (Oamaru) in the final. Jamieson and Ou put on a doubles master class to take the title 6-1, 6-1.

The last time a local player claimed the men’s doubles title was in 2002, when Oamaru players Peter Simpson and Peter Ross beat Dunedin’s John McDonald and Mark Tully in the final.

Jamieson had come close in the past, a beaten finalist three times, but this was his first finals win at the open.

The 2021 tournament celebrated one of its biggest fields in several years, 24 men and six women competing in their respective singles fields, while 12 men’s and three women’s pairings vied for doubles titles.

The men’s singles title was won by third seed Perry Crockett, of Southern Lakes.

He defeated top seed McHarg in Sunday’s final 7-5 7-5. Crockett and McHarg are both ranked in the top 100 New Zealand players.

North Otago’s Mackenzie Phillips beat Belinda Hirst, of Oamaru, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to take the women’s singles crown.

Phillips teamed up with Rebecca Ryan to win the women’s doubles title, in a round-robin competition, beating Hirst and Angela Fitzgerald 6-4, 6-4 and Jordyn Phillips and Lily McHarg 6-2, 6-3.

The Chelmer St courts were in top condition and Dalziel, the North Otago Tennis president, said it was a good weekend of tennis.

“The men’s singles was one of the better finals, quality-wise, we’ve had in quite a few years – it was bloody good to watch,” he said.

“We were boosted up by a lot of good local entries, too, which really helped things those guys really enjoy it.

“I don’t think we could’ve asked for any better, really. I think everyone went away happy.”

The open was originally scheduled for January 9-10. However, the Chelmer St courts were too wet from recent rain and the event was postponed a week.

After a dry start to summer, the rain had been good for the grass courts, which were playing “really, really well” for last weekend’s tournament, Dalziel said.

The grass courts were “a bit of a novelty” for players outside of North Otago.

The North Otago senior club competition resumed on January 14 and a North Otago team was also competing in division one of the Otago senior interclub competition, played in both Oamaru and Dunedin.

The region’s best players will soon start training for the second round of the Southern Open teams event in Dunedin in February. North Otago will enter teams in divisions 1 and 2.

The North Otago closed tournament will be contested on March 27-28.latest Nike SneakersNike