A RECORD number of 94 athletes congregated at the Maffra Squash and Racquetball Club last weekend for the 15th annual Gippsland Open.
Just four courts hosted a total of 176 matches, with nearly a third of matches going the five-game distance, to round up another successful tournament on the Grand Prix Squash Circuit.
In the men's open, Kooyong's Sam Ejtemai produced a dominant performance to claim championship glory. Ejtemai defeated Christine Nunn, fourth-seed Sam Maricic and local hope Mark Ikin on route to victory, all without dropping a game.
It was a valiant effort from Maffra's Ikin, who was impressive on his home court. He defeated second seed Darcy Walsh and circuit regular Darcy St John, before going down to the powerful Ejtemai, 11-8 11-2 11-8 in the final.
Two competitors featured in the women's open, with Christine Nunn and Grazia Guida playing off to decide the crowning of the title. Nunn proved too strong, wining 3-0.
Earlier in the competition, Nunn took part in the men's open, finishing seventh in the final standings, while Guida battled hard in division one to finish 12th overall.
Morwell veteran David Matchett and third seed Chris Morgan put forward some impressive performances in division one, before meeting in the final.
Top seed Matchett steamed past Mark Edgley 3-0, before overcoming Carl Freshwater in a tense four-game affair, while Morgan's journey to the final saw him overcome three consecutive five-game marathons and a tight four game win against second seed Mick Dyke.
The duo went to war in one of the matches of the tournament, both leaving everything out on the court. Dyke took the first two games, 8-11 9-11, before Matchett remarkably came back and powered home to claim the final three games, 11-9 17-15 11-5, in a gutsy tournament win.
Corio's Jordan Robertson took the podium in division two, off the back of three consecutive hard fought encounters.
Top seed Robertson outclassed Daniel Kofoed 3-2, and third-seed Greg Murphy 3-1, before claiming victory against second-seed Rivi Liyanage in a five game thriller, 11-9 6-11 11-6 3-11 11-7.
In a stacked draw, local hero Geoff Ely claimed the division three title after battling four grueling match-ups. Ely eventually conquered 20th seed Michael Walker 11-7 11-7 11-4 in the decider.
Chris Rounds claimed top honours in division four, coming back from 2-1 down in the final to defeat Barry Reid, 7-11 11-8 7-11 11-7 11-8.
William Gordon triumphed in division five, defeating Darcy Hayes 3-2, as Maffra local Blake Ross fired through the division six draw, outlasting Stephanie Dyer, 3-1, for the championship win.