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INSIDE VIEW IN THE TOP END


The first of an eight-tournament swing of the Australian Pro Tour came to a climactic end last weekend with Dane Sweeny and Alexandra Bozovic winning the ITF 25K singles titles here in Darwin.


As a current mens player i am clearly closer to the mens game, but as the Pro Tour winds its way to Cairns, Playford, Sydney and Traralgon in the next couple of months i will shine more of a light on the women's game as well.


Let’s rewind and see how it unfolded. Round one saw most favourites make their way safely through, with two notable battles going down. Marc Polmans scored a high quality 6-4 6-4 win over Australian top-ranked ITF junior Jeremy Jin. It seems intensity and belief are amongst Jin’s repertoire, and, although Polmans kept the fiery youngster at bay this time, there is more to come for Jin.


The other featured 19-yr-old Phil Sekulic, who came through an intense tussle with a steady and experienced Colin Sinclair, saving two match points on the way for a 6-7 7-6 6-3 victory.

There’s nothing like that first ATP point, and there were two first timers. Audacious Aus-Serb Zac Talic scored his first ATP point with a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win over Jesse Delaney, while recent college graduate Matt Hulme not only won nicest guy on site award, but also acquired his first ATP point with a 6-3 6-4 win over in-form, Corey Gaal.


Second round of play was spearheaded by a mouth-watering Sweeny-Polmans matchup. After an hour and a half of high quality, physically demanding tennis and an almost unprecedented level for a 25k second round, it was Polmans who clinched the first set 7-6.


Despite the opening set loss, Sweeny went on to claim the match 6-7 6-1 6-2, as a usually beast-like Polmans was noticeably struggling with physical issues. We all hope to see a quick recovery for the adored Polmans. Adam Walton and fellow Brisbane based Blake Ellis locked horns on centre court and brought an impressive level, however, recent three-time title winner, Walton, navigated his way through 3-6 6-2 6-4.


There’s something great about a back court marathon; and this time it was Moerani Bouzige who showed some serious ticker, grinding out a 7-6 4-6 7-6 win over highly respected and former top 280 ATP Kiwi, Rubin Statham.

Quarterfinal day, as expected, showcased some intense matchups. Tristan Schoolkate turned up to the courts with a tie and a briefcase in an all business 6-2 6-3 win over Bouzige. James Mccabe, who had been in a stingy mood thus far, not dropping many games, was up for the test against Walton, securing a semi-final berth with a clutch 6-3 7-6 win.


American base-liner, Kyle Seelig, who treated the baseline like a cliff he couldn’t step off, took down Sekulic 6-4 6-1 and top seed Sweeny prevailed over an always resilient Dayne Kelly 4-6 6-4 6-4. The pair have been riding a run of momentum, swinging strong right up until the last ball as per their two previous meetings.


Down to the final four and the local crowd was treated to an epic fight between Sweeny and Mccabe - this could be a healthy peer-pushing rivalry in the making. McCabe coming out guns blazing, literally, as he took the first set 6-2 with his muscle shirt on show. Sweeny managed the match and his own emotions impressively as he slid, dove and clawed his way back to a 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory. A match played in wholesome competitive spirits and juicy rally scenarios as Sweeny weathered the storm.


The second semi-final saw American Seelig maintain his time, squeezing play as he fought off Schoolkate 6-3 6-4. Schoolkate, who was seen putting in tremendous work on the outside courts during the week might have been a little jaded compared to his usual energised self. Nevertheless, Seelig went about his job in composed fashion.


After claiming the doubles title the night before, Sweeny turned up impressively fresh and ready for action against final opponent, Seelig. The duo traded repetitive blows from the baseline with some tour level backhand cross exchanges and jaw-dropping lateral movement, however, the American remained steady under pressure to snag the first set 6-4.


Sweeny, like his three previous matches, maturely problem solved and adjusted his strategies after dropping the first set as he slowly acquired control of the rally tempo and clinched the second set 6-2. With both Sweeny and Seelig standing below 5 8’ there weren’t many cheap points awarded as both men were physically and mentally tested. Tenacious and determined, Sweeny eventually peeled himself away from Seelig with a 4-6 6-2 6-1 title, claiming victory. The titles sees the 21-year-old enter the world’s top 300 for the first time, and with his current trajectory, looks likely to soon make Grand Slam qualifying direct entry.

In the woman’s final, Sydney’s Alex Bozovic claimed her maiden 25k title, defeating good friend and long time training partner Destanie Aiava 6-1 6-4. Bozovic looked fit and confident throughout her campaign.

It was a hot and entertaining first week on the Aus Pro Tour swing. All players and parties are repeating with week two in Darwin in full swing.

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