Country Week 2020

Report by Phillip Peck

2020 country week tennis started with six Wangaratta Lawn Tennis teams making the trek up the Hume Highway for what all were expecting to be another great week of tennis and comradery between not only ourselves of WLTC but the many people that have been met over the years at this event. Out of the six sides, four of them made the semi-finals on Thursday with only one progressing through to the grand final played on Friday.

The A grade side finished the week in a respectable seventh position on the ladder with 13 points, a mere 5 points short of making the finals. The team of Brendan Liddell, Matt Allen, Grant Chapple, Mark Mills and late call up on day four to fill in by Paul Flynn saw them win two matches and some 9 sets of tennis to get them to the 13 points. This grade of tennis is some of the best within state grade pennant and all who took part in this grade should be congratulated on their fine efforts to achieve the result that they did.

Wangaratta Blue side in Barry Sullivan, Peter Mulrooney, John Brunner, Brett Goodwin, Kevin Callahan & Phil Peck competed in the 2nd top section with a lot of hope to just get through the week in a respectable position on the ladder, and to not embarrass the WLTC too much. By end of week there were many surprises as the team achieved a great result to finish in third position with 28 points. Late Thursday afternoon saw them take on Mud island in the semi-finals and in turn came up short and lost the match 3 sets to zero. All up, the team will bounce back, correct their bodies over the following 51 weeks of all ailments, come back, bigger, stronger and a bit older/wiser for the 2021 campaign of country week.

Wangaratta Slime Lime playing in section B1 started the week off very shaky with two losses on the first day and looking down the barrel of a long week. The side being led by colonel Vin Warnock and his many sergeants in Ash Weston,  Robert Voss, Scott Francis, Johno Keys, Roger Peters and the left handed guru in Brad Tonkin got themselves back on course to finish the week in third position with 23 points, which in turn locked them into a semi-final against South Camden whom had beaten them in an earlier round by 2 games. This earlier defeat did not worry the team as they went on court full of confidence, turned the tables, and won the semi-final 3 sets to 1, 27 games to 23. Friday morning came the showdown with the grand final hitting off at 9am against Maffra. Previous encounter with Maffra saw the Slime team run over their opponents which gave the Slime great confidence going into this grand final. First set saw the pairing of Vin Warnock and Robert Voss go down 8/4. Second set was a lot tighter with Scott Francis & Johno Keys going down in a tie breaker 8/7. The third set was fairly one sided with the Maffra team getting the edge early with the match finishing and Maffra winning the grand final 3 sets to zero

Wangaratta Green were extremely confident going into the week as somehow, they had been moved down in grading by some two sections. But as has been found out in previous years, the tennis is hot whichever section you are put into. Play got under way on the Monday with two wins, with the likes of Frank Harris teaming up with Leigh Hartwig, followed by Scott Solimo pairing up with the fleet footed Luke Toohey, the team were grinning like Cheshire cats. Mid-week saw a couple of fresh heads come in with Mark Brown & Matt Curran delivering some solid play on the Wednesday. Thursday is known as struggle day in the Green camp and a struggle it was as players nursing many ailments failed in their quest for a grand final berth and bowed out in the semi-finals against the Albury Rockets three sets to zero.

What a week the Wangaratta Purple side have had, as all week they were sitting fifth or sixth and could not win a trick as sides around them kept them out of the four by the barest of margins. Thursday morning finally saw the tables turn as this is where the man who does numbers, in Alan Busk, threw caution to the wind and changed the pairings around which then saw Lance Crockett team with Mike Falkenburg, followed by Brian Scobie and Alan Busk. Pat Flynn was rested & Paul Flynn rose up the ranks to A grade. A whitewash of wins in the final round saw them propel into fourth position and a showdown in semi-finals against St Arnaud. The match started with a flurry, first it was the good Doc sending aces down followed by Lance Crockett with a forehand winner. The pairings were a treat until someone told St Arnaud to start play, and start they did as the Purple side slowly faded to mauve as they lost the semi 3 sets to zero.

Wangaratta Rust now commonly known around the country week arena as Dads Army, due to being the oldest average age team hitting the courts, went about their business in section C4 in military style. Led by Mick Keogh, he had his troops marching a straight line as Geoff Allen, Peter Ablazej, Geoff Davidson, Russel O’Brien and Noel Boyd all strived for excellence but fell a bit short of making the finals to finish in seventh position with 14 points. The team have declared that they will be practising heavily on the Thursday morning veteran’s matchups at the Merriwa Park complex in readiness for another tilt of glory, that being the country week festivities.

WLTC has a very proud tradition of sending teams away to country week tennis and over the years have been blessed to have won a number of titles across a number of grades. But country week is not about the number of titles, nor matches, sets, games that one wins, more so it is about getting out there, trying your best, enjoying the friendships that one has made with your own team members, those of other teams, the teams of volunteers that get the tournament underway. A huge effort by all of which all representing WLTC appreciate immensely.