Party pooper: Gregor's MIA Open dreams dashed

EYES ON THE PRIZE: Local product Blake Gregor reaches down low to make this shot in Monday's MIA Open final.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Local product Blake Gregor reaches down low to make this shot in Monday's MIA Open final.


BLAKE Gregor's dreams of victory on his home court were shattered on Monday as Bairnsdale's Aidan Fitzgerald claimed the 2014 MIA Open men's singles title.

Number two seed Fitzgerald cruised to a 6-3 6-3 win over local product Gregor, who had precious little left in his tank after outlasting top-seeded Victorian Nicholas Cirpi in a marathon semi-final the day before.

"I gave it all, as I always do, went for every ball, tried for every last point... but it wasn't my day," Gregor said.

"I think he was just a little more consistent than me - and he's 6'3", so his serve was a lot bigger than mine.

"He was always holding his serve pretty easily but for me it was always a battle."

Left-hander Fitzgerald, 29, said he didn't feel like a party pooper, despite crashing Gregor's first ever appearance in an MIA Open decider.

"I reckon I've been here 10 times as well and never won it. It was my turn, I wanted it," he laughed.

"Blake was tough, as he always is - he's very competitive, which drives me nuts. 

"He never gives anything up for free."

Fitzgerald also had the last laugh in the men's doubles, teaming up with Jackson Varney to beat Gregor and Griffith surprise packet Tavis Bergamin in the final, winning 7-5 7-5.

"That was even worse," Gregor said.

"We had our chances, big time, but I don't know what happened."

In the women's division, Wagga's Kaitlin Staines was too good for Sydney product Leanne Sommers, taking a 6-0 6-4 triumph in the final.

Staines also reigned supreme in the women's doubles, combining with Mia Dementiev to win the final 6-3 6-1 over the Pang sisters from Canberra, Jacinta and Stephanie.

The best-performed local female was up-and-coming junior Annaliese Quarisa, who produced a shock win over Stephanie Pang in the first round before bowing out against Victorian Tallulah Farrow.

Quarisa did make the final of the special mixed doubles with Griffith's Andrew Noad, but the pair lost 7-1 to Sydney's Hakki Kazan and Toni O'Neill.

At one stage an all-Griffith AMT mixed doubles final looked on the cards when Noad and Megan Polkinghorne and Blake and Maddison Gregor both made the semis, but the locals fell at the final hurdle before Albury's Emma Graham and Cameron Meagher eventually took the crown.

But there was glory for Griffith in the junior ranks, where Binit Shrestha - a former local who now lives and plays in Melbourne - swept all comers in the 18 and under singles, toppling number one seed Danut Cuc in the final.

"There were a lot of locals here," Gregor said.

"In the opens a lot of them went well and even in the lower grades, the Griffith kids performed.

"It's good to see the next generation after me are following and doing the city proud every week."

The credit for that goes to the heartbeat of the Griffith Tennis Club, Cheryl Rawle.

Rawle and tournament director Steve Longworth oversaw another hitch-free MIA Open that also saw rave reviews for the new surfaces at the Jack Shannon Courts, which many competitors ranked amongst some of the best in the country.

"It's a selfless job for Cheryl - she's always here, and she's done a great job," said former local Frank Calabria, who now runs the Rising Star Tennis Academy in Canberra and brought a dozen players over for the tournament.

"Her and the club are promoting the game and that's ultimately the most important thing.

"The people here at the club are fantastic and everyone puts in to contribute.

"Everyone's happy and friendly, nobody's stressed - it's all chilled out and a nice place to be."


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