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First metropolitan premiership!

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Eastern Districts Tennis Association: Mens Division 1 Grand Final: 4th April 2009
Stirling 5 sets 51 games d. Holmesdale 2 sets 38 games

John Hall & Paul Juzulenas v. Mark Swanbury & David Dew 6-2 3-6.
Anthony Spinelli & Matt Major v. Pauli Pignatis & Daryl Bald 6-3 6-5.

John Hall v. Mark Swanbury 9-6.
Anthony Spinelli v. David Dew 5-6 (unf).
Paul Juzulenas v. Pauli Pignatis 7-9.
Neil Sandercock v. Daryl Bald 9-1.

Stirling Tennis Club achieved a significant milestone with its inaugural premiership in the Eastern Districts Tennis Association competition last Saturday. In just its third season venturing into the cutthroat metropolitan league, Stirling overcame reigning premiers Holmesdale in a torrid shootout for the Mens Division 1 premiership.

Just two weeks earlier, Stirling were defeated by their rivals 5 sets to 3, pushing Stirling back to fight out a preliminary final against the tough ETKG team. That hurdle was overcome with some spirited play to give Stirling another crack at the daunting and undefeated Holmesdale team.

The grand final was played at Trinity Gardens with both teams commanding a large and vocal crowd of supporters.

The all-important doubles sets began evenly with all players determined to concentrate on tight, pressure tennis. Stirling's first doubles combination of Paul Juzulenas and John Hall had been well beaten in the semi-final by Holmesdale's pairing of Mark Swanbury and David Dew. An inspirational change of tactics however saw the Stirling pair dominate the opening stanza breaking both opponents with great returning and net play for a 6-2 turn-around. The experienced Holmesdale pair regrouped to take a tight second set 6-3.

At second doubles, Anthony Spinelli and Matt Major took on the talented Pauli Pignatis and veteran Daryl Bald. Their previous contests has seen sets shared. The Stirling duo dominated the first set, turning a single service break into a 6-3 win to get the Stirling underdogs off to a great start. The second set turned Holmesdale's way with a service break at 4-games all, but Stirling broke back immediately with some fearless shotmaking to force a tiebreak decider. With Major dominating the net and Spinelli hitting scorching groundshots, Stirling stormed to a 7-0 tiebreak win to give their team a handy 3 sets to 1 lead after the doubles sets and the halfway mark.

Stirling called in singles specialist Neil Sandercock to combat the evergreen Bald at number 4 singles, as Juzulenas faced Pignatis. After two drawn-out opening games saw the score at 1-1, Sandercock turned up the pressure to race to a dominant 9-1 win over his former compatriot, giving Stirling another set and a very handy 13-game advantage. Meanwhile, Juzulenas was fighting out another high quality match against his younger opponent. Pignatis prevailed in a 9-7 cliff-hanger. Juzulenas was gallant in defeat, but his 7 games preserved much of the advantage for his team.

The final 2 singles began with Stirling leading 4 sets to 2 and by 11 games. The crowd could sense an unlikely upset, with the Hills-based team needing to find just 8 more games to steal the prize from their more highly fancied opponent.

Talented 14 year old Hall began nervously against the class of Holmesdale's Swanbury to be a service break down against an increasingly confident adversary. On the neighbouring court, Stirling number 2 Spinelli was also struggling against the consistent and accurate game of Dew. Both of Stirling's players trailed 2-4 and an upset win was now looking less likely.

Hall turned his match around with some brilliant winners to break serve and storm to the lead. Spinelli also broke back to level his set, and the frantic game-counting and score checking commenced in the spectator gallery. But the job was done, Stirling had sufficient games to ensure victory. Hall closed out his set 9-6, and the final set concluded at 5-6 with the result already decided.

The premiership caps off a solid beginning for Stirling's advance into metropolitan competitions. "It is just reward for the team. They worked hard all year for this. A great win over a very tough opponent." said Club President Steve Stranks.

Last changed: May 18 2009