SALE Tennis Club travelled to Bairnsdale on Saturday to try and defend their hold on the Dahlsens Challenge Shield.

The Challenge, which is usually played annually, was disrupted in 2021 by COVID and then the proposed Sunday, April 3 date was postponed by some of the worst weather imaginable.

Nearly 60 players competed in the Challenge, which 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.

Sale Tennis Club coach Jason Yap (right) serves during the singles match against Bairnsdale Tennis Club coach Gavin McCoy. Sale defended their hold on the Dahlsens Shield following some outstanding tennis.
Photo: Contributed

Jason Yap from Sale and Gavin McCoy from Bairnsdale pick the overall teams and individual match-ups.

On a perfect winter’s day the competition started with a round of singles for the juniors and doubles for the seniors.

The juniors relished the chance to showcase their skills and the standard of tennis was a credit to them all.

The improvement achieved by the children over the past season has been remarkable, and the tennis was captivating for those that assembled to watch.

The Sale seniors found the early doubles matches tough work, however they held their own as the matches progressed with the result at the end of Round 1 seeing Sale finish with a convincing overall lead.

The next round was a doubles rubber and the Sale juniors rose to the challenge, showing the benefit of the hard work they have done during the season and teaming well together to open up a decisive lead.

The final round saw Bairnsdale take the court with the Dahlsens Challenge Shield firmly on the line, but the deficit was too great and Sale ran out eventual winners.

The Challenge ended with the two coaches playing a singles match in front of an enthralled crowd.

McCoy served first and games remained on service until the tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, Yap took the early points but McCoy was able to claim a vital mini-break and went on to take out the match.

Sale Tennis Club coach Jason Yap holding the Dahlsens Challenge Shield. Sale won the title from Bairnsdale Tennis Club, coached by Gavin McCoy (right).

The tennis was exceptional and the spectators, especially the children coached by the respective players, were inspired by the stroke play.

Sale Tennis Club president Robin Lowe was on hand to accept the Dahlsens Challenge Shield and to thank their hosts from Bairnsdale, the players, coaches and volunteers who helped with organisation and catering, and especially Dahlsens for their commitment to and support of local sport.

Events such as the Dahlsens Challenge are important for the development of junior players in regional areas as they provide a rare opportunity for them to be part of a larger team representing their club and to compete with and test themselves against their peers from other areas.

With the tally now five matches to three in Sale’s favour, the Dahlsens Challenge will return in 2023 with Bairnsdale making the trip to Sale to try to win back the title.