The Saville Open unfolded January 10-13 at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, concurrently with the beginning of the Australian Open. Yes, Andy Murray was heroic in Australia, but the participants at the Edmonton tennis event also had their own heroic moments. Whether it was a perfect smash or gutsy dig by a 3.0 or 4.0 player, or a twenty-stroke cross-court rally at the 5.0 or Open level, every match had its highlights.
This long-standing tournament attracted top talent to the Open categories from Alberta and beyond. The 25-player Men’s Open draw included Oscar Yang and Conrad Koch, now playing college tennis in the United States; University of Alberta Golden Bears team members; top Alberta juniors Joshua Oboniye, Evan Holt and Goran Vukovic; former top junior Shane Nicholls from Manitoba; and Alberta Senior player Norman Boule who made it to the quarterfinals.
(Photo above: Oscar Yang, the Men’s Open tournament champion. Photo by Don Voaklander.)
For more pictures of the tournament by Don Voaklander, click here.
The Women’s and Men’s Open finals were spectacular displays. Alberta Junior (U16) Hana Gamracy faced Tereza Simonova, a first year University of Alberta Panda from Red Deer, in the Women’s Open Final. In the Men’s Open Final, Oscar Yang, a Savillian native, took on the U of A Golden Bear powerhouse Daniel Henschel in a three-set display of skill and willpower.
The 5.0 Men’s Open Doubles final round-robin match was another tournament highlight. Featuring Dan Townsend and his two sons Ryan and Brad, it was as close a match as fans could have hoped for from the Townsend family tennis dynasty.
Many players who made the semi-finals or finals, and/or played in multiple events, were on court for more than five hours and played up to four matches in a day, going as late as 11:00 p.m. Even with their tired feet (and other body parts), the Savillians were not to be outdone by those epic five-setters at the Australian Open!
The Women’s and Men’s Open finals featured impressive and entertaining tennis.
(Photo above: Hana Gamracy en route to the Women’s Open championship victory. Photo by Don Voaklander.)
Favoured in the Women’s Open Final was Hana Gamracy, a Saville Junior currently ranked #21 in Canada, U16. Hana had won the Open Women’s Doubles the previous day with teammate Mia Kupres against Alexandra Jewitt and Gianna Oboniye, two other top-ranked juniors. Hana’s opponent in the singles final was Tereza Simonova, a University of Alberta Panda and former top Alberta junior.
Gamracy dominated in the first set with consistency, power, and youth prevailing. But Simonova rallied her competitive spirit, served up some aces, and kept her ground strokes smoking in a strong start to the second set. She stayed on-serve to 4-3. Then Gamracy broke to 5-3, and finished the match convincingly for a 6-1, 6-3 championship title. The points were long with baseline to baseline rallies, precision serving, jaw-dropping defence, and decisive winners. One rally was over twenty shots long, with Simonova forcing Gamracy side-to-side again and again. Gamracy maintained gritty defence until Simonova finally placed a winner. The fans erupted in spontaneous applause at the end of the point.
Oscar Yang is a Saville tennis program graduate, in his first year now at Bowdoin College in the State of Maine and the recent winner of the Rob Bell Memorial Tournament in Edmonton (June 2018). Oscar’s impressive credentials did not faze Daniel Henschel, the hard-hitting, big-serving, big-hearted Golden Bear who earned his way to the final by defeating three of his Golden Bear teammates.
(Photo above: Daniel Henschel and Oscar Yang immediately after their final match, pleased as punch).
The first set was on-serve to 5-5 when Oscar’s gruelling ground strokes got the better of Henschel. Yang took the first set 7-5, but Henschel was not giving up. He broke Yang in the second set at 2-2, playing some perfectly executed and disguised drop shots, interrupting Yang’s rhythm. Henschel moved ahead to 4-2. He held his serve and won the second set 6-4, forcing a third set.
In the final set just a touch of fatigue set in after the hours and hours spent on court over the past few days. But the two ultra-athletes maintained their competitive intensity and consistency through sheer grit. Yang’s rhythm returned. He fired some amazing down-the-line winners and deep baseline shots, painting the lines for a heroic ending. He broke Henschel at 2-1 and maintained his intensity for a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win. “That was my best tennis,” said Henschel after the match. “You won’t see me play better than that.” Both players, as well as the fans, had thoroughly enjoyed the quality, the sportsmanship, the classic rallies, and the battle of wills.
(Photo above: Kevin Phillips, Brad Townsend, Dan Townsend, and Ryan Townsend. By Dan Voaklander)
Dan Townsend was paired with son Ryan, playing against his other son Brad and Kevin Phillips, honorary Townsend-for-a-day. They played on the show court, the final day of the tournament. Sure enough and to the fans’ delight, the match went to a super tiebreaker at one set each. The Dan/Ryan team had missed three match point opportunities so the drama factor was high. Fans were “ooing and ahing” as the points went back and forth with, yes, heroic defensive plays and sizzling offence on both sides. Digs, smashes, poaches, lobs, down-the-line winners, smiles, laughs, grunts and groans, this match had it all.
Dad Dan commented on what this match meant to him, a special event for a special occasion:
“I have a milestone birthday coming up in ten days. This was the best birthday present I could ever ask for. To be able to play tennis with my two sons in this doubles match was very special to me, as good as it gets. I am fortunate that I can still play competitive tennis alongside Ryan and Brad.” (Dan Townsend)
Happy Birthday,Dan, and nice going as the 5.0 doubles champion with son Ryan. Brad and Kevin, you kept it close and 100% entertaining. (Final score in the Townsend vs. Townsend match was 6-3, 5-7, 10-7).
Q: What did the Savillian Open have that the Australian Open does not have? Answer: A father and two sons playing in a doubles match on the final day of the tournament.
Q: How can you tell which of the four players is not a Townsend? Answer: You can’t, they all look alike.
For detailed tournament results, click here.
4.0. Jennifer Rymes (1). Heidi Liersch (2). Kristen Mosdell and Heather Bauman (3/4).
5.0. Carina Bitting (1). Mie Konno (2). Ellen Toth and Samantha Bowker (3/4).
Open. Hana Gamracy (1). Tereza Simonova (2). Katie Johnson and Alina Jurca (3/4).
3.0. Kaveh Farjadfard (1). Andrew Cusack (2). Gregg Wilson and James Wessman (3/4).
4.0. Guan Zhang (1). Arjun Singh (2). Hieu Ngo and Carlos Malloy (3/4).
5.0. David Crowther (1). Ivan Quintero (2). Hunter Mailo and Don Yee (3/4).
Open. Oscar Yang (1). Daniel Henschel (2). Kiran Phaterpekar and Connor Khademazad (3/4).
4.0. Brenda Johnson/Susan Wells (1). Chandra Wanigaratne/Kyoko Watanabe (2).
5.0. Carina Bitting/Mayumi Hagiwara (1). Ainslie Lyons/Rozelle Winter (2).
Open. Hana Gamracy/Mia Kupres (1). Alexandra Jewitt/Gianna Oboniye (2).
4.0. Keith Bienert/Stuart Shaw (1). Duey Hume/Ethan Wollmann (2).
5.0. Dan Townsend/Ryan Townsend (1). Kenneth Magleo/Luis Usevicius (2).
Open. Michal Ostrzygalo/Ryan Townsend (1). Connor Khademazad/Max Szczpien (2).
XD 4.0. Tim Edlund/Rachel Milner (1). Kalen Kostyk/Rhonda Woychuk (2).
Best Matching Doubles Attire. The Johnson/Wells 4.0 Women’s Doubles team, self-acclaimed, and hands down!
Unfortunate Losers. Only those who did not take part as either a player or a fan (or both) lost out on the experience.
Photo above: Tournament organizer Andrea Jones with members of the University of Alberta Golden Bears Tennis Team
Don’t be shy, everyone who played at the Savillian Open, to see yourselves in moments of the Australian Open on TV. You too had one, or a few, or maybe even many heroic moments at the Saville Open, even if in your eyes only.
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