The 106th Alberta Open was a huge success, attracting 160 players. By far the biggest tournament in Alberta this year, it featured levels 3.0 to Open, wheelchair, doubles and singles, and mixed doubles. No ordinary tournament.
(Picture above: The Women’s Open Doubles Final. Left to right: Maria Petrascu of Toronto, Ana Maria Ileana of Vancouver, Kristina Sanjovic and Alexandra Jewitt of Edmonton).
The Saville Outdoor Tennis Centre was dressed up for the occasion with food service, Wilson-sponsored events, sponsorship billboards, and covered risers for spectators. Even though mother nature and honking geese reminded us we were pushing summer’s edge, the play went on unimpeded in true Edmonton spirit.
The extra effort made by Tennis Alberta to attract players paid off with good-sized draws. The 4.0 Mens Singles had 29 players for example, and the Open Mens Singles had 24. The wheelchair draw was a big win with eight competitors, most playing in their first tennis tournament. And the highlight was the Open players who came from across Canada and even the Bahamas to compete for significant prize money, duke it out with Alberta’s top players, and give spectators a close-up view of close-to ATP and WTA level competition.
For tournament photos by Melissa Penney see Tennis Alberta’s Facebook Page.
The top seeds in the Men’s Open Singles and Doubles are formidable players. Top seed Kevin Kyler is ranked 49 in Canada, from Manitoba. Riaan Dutoit seeded #2 is a former top junior, now 24, from Abbotsford BC (currently ranked #51 in Canada). Andrew Ochotta (Toronto, ranked #100 in Canada) and Philip Major (Bahamas Davis Cup team) were seeded #3 and #4. And Eric Yee from Saskatchewan, currently ranked #66 in Canada, was the #5 seed.
In Mens Open Singles, Riaan Dutoit took thetitle in a scintillating final against top seed Kevin Kyler, taking home a $2,000 cheque in prize money. As expected, the 3/4 position went to the 3rd and 4th seeds, Andrew Ochotta and Philip Major.
The highlight, though, was our Alberta unseeded doubles team, Tristan Gilbertson and Jakub Komar, who took first place in this national level Mens Open draw.
Tristan and Jakub (known in the stands as the “old guys”) won over first seed Dutoit/Ochotta 3-6, 6-7 (3) in an impressive semi-final. The final was even more of a nail-biter with our local team coming back from a first set loss, winning the second set 5-7, and then the tiebreaker 14-12 over Kylar/Portmann (from Toronto).
Picture below: Tristan Gilbertson and Jakub Komar, Men’s Open Doubles Champions
Picture above: Men’s Open Singles Final. Referee, Derek Van Den Berg (Tennis Alberta), Kevin Kyler (finalist), Riaan Dutoit (winner), Peter Ogilvie (Tennis Alberta).
The Women’s Open draw featured two early 20s national players, Maria Patrascu age 21 from Toronto, and Ana Maria Ileana age 20 from Vancouver. Maria is currently ranked 16th in Canada, and Ana Maria 46th.
These two dominated the singles and doubles open draw. In the battle for first place singles, Patrascu won 6-2, 6-4 over Ileana in a show of baseline force and consistency. The 3/4 spots were shared by locals Jessica Kreutz and Danielle Gryckiewicz (Calgary).
When the hard-hitting Patrascu/Ileana duo met the Edmonton team of veteran Kristina Sanjovic (U. of A. Pandas captain) and partner 16-year old Alexandra Jewitt in the doubles final, our local team held their own. A change of tactics in the second set evened the rallies, but the set was over too early for fans at 1-6, 3-6 for Patrascu/Ileana.
(Picture below: Tennis Alberta’s tournament director, Derek Van Den Berg with the women’s open doubles champions, Maria Patrascu and Ana Maria Ileana)
This was a large draw for wheelchair tennis in Edmonton, with eight players taking part. The zigging and zagging, lobbing and hitting was something to see. Former international player Laurence Zalmanowitz of Edmonton took on Kyle Thompson in the final, winning 6-4, 6-1. Even though Kyle was well-prepared after the Kamloops Legacy Games Tennis Championship in July, Zalmanowitz’s experience gave him the edge. The 3/4 position was shared by Adam Reid and Colin Mitchell.
Picture below: Wheelchair finalist Kyle Thompson and winner Laurence Zalmanowitz.
MS 5.0. 1st Jonathan Pearson. 2nd Hunter Mailo.
MD 5.0. 1st Jonathan Pearson/Kevin Tam. 2nd Jeff Lewis/Kevin Phillips.
WD 5.0. 1st Mayumi Hagiwara/Mika Kirchner. 2nd Jennifer Cleall/Lisa Vetsch.
MS 4.0. 1st Ethan Wollmann. 2nd Dan Townsend.
MD 4.0. 1st Duey Hume/Ethan Wollman. 2nd Chad Frey/Mitchell Frey.
WS 4.0. 1st Carmen Sych. 2nd Tianyi Hou.
WD 4.0. 1st Megan Ploit/Jennifer Rymes. 2nd Chandra Wanigaratne/Kyoko Watanabe.
XD 4.0. 1st Andre Hoffmann/Joanne Vetsch. 2nd Remko Van Den Hurk/Tianyi Hou.
MS 3.0. 1st Brian curry. 2nd Kalen Kostyk.
WS 3.0. 1st Samina Khandwala. 2nd Katherine Nilsson
Q: What was special about this Alberta Open, considering that it was the 106th?
A: This Alberta Open was special because we actually broke the record for number of entrants with 161 over all categories. We had players competing from across Canada, with five provinces represented, and even a few guys from the Bahamas.
Q: Where does the Alberta Open fit in Alberta’s overall mix of tournaments?
The Alberta Open should be Alberta’s premier and largest event. In recent history it hasn’t been that way, with the event now only categorized as an Open 350. But Tennis Alberta’s new Executive Director, Peter Ogilvie, is adamant that we will be returning this event to its glory. Hopefully next year we will be able to categorize it as an Open 1000.
Q: What was your strategy in organizing it? Did it meet your goals?
A: A lot of people played a role in this. Mine revolved a lot around getting players, but it was supported by all of the others as well. My basic strategy was to market it as THE event to be at, not just as a tennis tournament but a social event as well, and that had a lot to do with all the additional work put in.
Q: How did you attract the players from out of province? What did they add to the tournament?
A: I think the prize money is what attracted the players in the end, but it was my job to find specific players that would add to the event, who would also gain from our event, and send the invite out to them. The addition of top players raised the level of the event and created more of a show for the spectators to watch. Court 1 was our show court and always had one of the top matches on it.
Q: What are your plans for the Alberta Open next year?
A: We’re already starting to look at next year and maybe moving the time of the event. The end of August isn’t ideal mostly because a lot of players are tired after a long season and it’s just too much. We’d also like the NCAA kids to play, but they were already back at school. In my opinion a little more prize money would be great for growing the event, not necessarily at the top, but making the prize pool deeper so maybe quarter-finalists get some as well. I’d love to see the Men’s Open grow to a 48 draw and the Women’s Open grow to a 24 draw.
It is onward and upward for the Alberta Open, building on this year’s momentum. Great work at Tennis Alberta on stick-handling, or should we say racket-handling, a most interesting, diverse and enjoyable tournament.
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