Te Anau tournament a winner

NEXT TIME: Finn Tearney will have to wait a year before getting another crack at the Te Anau title.
NEXT TIME: Finn Tearney will have to wait a year before getting another crack at the Te Anau title.

The inaugural Te Anau Tennis Open has been labelled a glowing success and there is excitement the event will take on a  bigger profile in the coming years with prizemoney expected to double next year.

The Te Anau Open has quickly become one of New Zealand's more notable tennis tournaments given organisers were able to pull together $10,000 prizemoney for this year's event which attracted many of the country's top men's players to the lakeside Southland town at the weekend.

A group of enthusiasts dreamed up the idea and it was backed by Roberto Lombardi, who owns the La Dolce Vita restaurant in Te Anau.

Lombardi ensured they had the prizemoney in place to lure the high-ranked players to the tournament.

There are plans afoot which could see that prize pool doubled next year  which would place the  spotlight more firmly on tennis in Te Anau.

Auckland's Sebastian Lavie came up trumps in yesterday's final to claim the $5000 winners's cheque.

However, yesterday's final wasn't without drama.

It started outdoors where 23-year-old Finn Tearney, from Wellington, had grabbed the first set 6-4 and was leading early in the second set before rain forced the game indoors.

As a backup organisers had the Te Anau Events Centre where they had Stadium Southland's transportable court surface matting down which was used for Davis Cup matches in Invercargill up to 2005.

Sebastian Lavie,21,  adjusted best to the moveindoors and clawed his way back into contest.

He won the second set 7-6 before winning the deciding set 6-4.

Te Anau president Greg Sheppard was excited about how the weekend panned out and also for the future of the Te Anau Open.

''It's been a hit, everyone is super excited. All of the players have said they're coming back,'' Sheppard said.

''We'll have a bit of a debrief and look at how we can improve it for next year but for a first-time effort from  a bunch of people who didn't really know what they were doing we pulled off a bit of a good one

''We will try and lure some higher ranked players next year but those who were here this year we are grateful they made the effort to come down for it. They certainly put on a good performance for us.''


The Southland Times