Todd Larkham led the Canberra Velocity men’s team to a place in the Asia-Pacific Tennis League conference final with victory at Sydney Olympic Park tonight.
Larkham, who was a late call-up after Nick Kyrgios withdrew with a hip flexor injury, dropped only three games in his first competitive singles match in eight years against Marious Zelba.
The men’s team finished second in the NSW/ACT conference after beating the third-ranked Canterbury Bankstown Wizards 5-1.
Alex Bolt dropped only two games against former professional Allen Belobradjic, who was once ranked 146 in the world, while James Frawley completed an impressive 4-2, 4-1 victory over 2002 junior Wimbledon champion Todd Reid.
Making a return from injury, Jake Eames lost a thrilling match to Michael Tebbut 1-4, 4-3 (5-3), 4-2.
Larkham then teamed with Alun Jones in the doubles to defeat Zelba and Patrick Rynsaardt 4-2, 4-2, while Bolt and Frawley beat experienced duo Matt Mullane and Mark McCook 4-3 (5-3), 4-0.
Larkham, the team manager, said he was delighted with the win after two team changes in two days.
“We are excited to be in the final,” he said. “It’s a great result, particularly after losing Nick this morning, and Andrew Zedde was a late withdrawal (due to exams) as well.”
Velocity will meet the highly fancied ATP Sydney team in the conference final on Tuesday night.
The women’s team narrowly lost its first tie of the round-robin competition to the highly fancied Asia Pacific Tennis Institute Steelers.
Alison Bai could only win two games against fellow professional Stephanie Bengson, while Trudi Musgrave was too experienced for Velocity’s Tarlina Tipungwuti, winning 4-1, 4-2.
Velocity then levelled the tie when talented 18-year-old Nicole Hoynaski defeated Angelique Svino 4-0, 4-2, and Tyra Calderwood came from behind to beat Julia Moriaty 2-4, 4-1, 4-3 (5-2).
However, the Steelers claimed victory by two sets when the teams split the doubles.
Bai/Calderwood lost to Monique Adamczak/Bengson 4-2, 4-3 (5-2), while Hoynaski teamed with Imogen Clews to beat Moriarty and Renee Beck 2-4, 4-2 (10-2).
In a repeat of tonight’s match, the women’s team will play the Steelers in Tuesday night’s conference final after both teams finished in the top two.
Team manager Annabel Parolo said it will be anyone’s match on Tuesday.
“It will be a great final as there’s nothing between the two teams. Tonight’s matches showed that,” Parolo said.