Sale retains trophy

MORE than 50 tennis players competed in the challenge match between Sale and Bairnsdale tennis clubs at Sale on Sunday.

Played twice a year, the challenge involves junior and senior players competing on behalf of their club and town.

Like the Davis Cup, each town has a captain, being the  respective club professional coaches, Mick Mullen from Sale and Mitch Harty of Bairnsdale, who pick the teams and match-ups.

Looking to wrestle back the trophy from the host, Bairnsdale fielded a younger juniors team, meaning the challenge was ahead of it against the more experienced Sale juniors. The seniors were a more even match, resulting in some  competitive tennis.

The challenge is played as a mixture of traditional matches and Fast 4 sets, with the winner decided by the overall total games won from all completed junior and senior matches.

The first two rubbers were traditional matches and Sale performed well to take a narrow lead. The next rubber was a decisive Fast 4 juniors match, with the Sale team opening up a solid lead before the lunch break.

After lunch, the players returned for the fourth and final rubber with the challenge trophy on the line.

After the final 12 sets, Sale was declared the winner, retaining the trophy it won last October.

The best players on each team were recognised, with Kai McDonald (junior) and Steve Farley (senior) winning for Sale, and Hannah Perkins (junior) and Denielle Campbell (senior) receiving the Bairnsdale awards.

The next challenge match will be played in October at Bairnsdale.