Freighter ladies and The Drive men take out inaugural South West ATL Conference
The Flagstaff Freighters ladies and The Drive men’s teams have won their way through to the ATL Playoff to be played in the second week of the Australian Open.
The Flagstaff Freighters ladies and The Drive men’s teams have won their way through to the Asia Pacific Tennis League Playoff to be played in at Melbourne Park as part of the Australian Open, after claiming the inaugural ATL South West Conference title on Friday night at Memorial Drive.
The Drive and the Freighters will take away $7k in prize money each from their ATL South West Conference titles on Friday night and both teams will be looking ahead to their chance to win a slice of the $110k in prize money available in Melbourne.
For the Flagstaff Freighters it was their fourth consecutive Conference stage ATL title after overcoming a spirited Drive ladies team at Memorial Drive on Friday night. The Freighters got off to a shaky start when Bulgarian Dia Evtimova was soundly beaten at top singles by South African Chanel Simmonds 4-1 4-0.
The Freighters were able to steady through Victorian Viktorija Rajicic when she had a strong win over Adelaide player Leah Daw. The Freighters then tightened their grip on the title with straight sets wins to WA’s pair Bojana Bobusic and Jess Moore.
After the singles, the Freighters held a 3-1 lead and when Bobusic and Moore dominated AJ Walters and Daw at top double it was all over and the Freighters had reaped the benefits of their hard work throughout the ATL Conference stage and in the lead up to the season where they recruited strongly to put together a top level line up.
In the men’s competition The Drive continued their rivalry with Trinity Titans when they played one of the tightest tie’s in ATL history. At number one singles ATL South West Conference player of the season, Darren Polkinghorne, continued his unbeaten ATL season when he defeated The Drive’s Ryan Agar in straight sets.
Trinity looked to be in control of the tie when Titan Sam Longhurst won a drawn out three set battle against Paul Kramberger to give them a two rubber to nil lead. The Drive needed a lift and the ever energetic Yuya Ito rose to the occasion when he battled past Li Tu to win 4-2 4-2.
In the fourth singles The Drive’s youngster Lawrence Bataljin held off former touring player David To in two sets to get the tie back to two rubbers all and with The Drive holding an important one set lead.
It came down to the doubles where Titans, Polkinghorne and Adam Alessandrini had an important straight sets win over Scott Robertson and Kramberger at number two doubles.
The result meant the winner of the last doubles would be the eventual Champion. In the final match of the evening, with a strong crowd of spectators watching in anticipation, it came down to The Drive’s Agar and Ito taking on experienced doubles player Colin Ebelthite and youngster Li Tu.
The Drive took the first set in a tie break and then held on in the second to take the rubber and the ATL South West Men’s title for the first time in their club history.
Both The Drive and Flagstaff will now be looking to prepare for a tilt at the Asia Pacific Tennis League title in Melbourne.
The Freighters were runners up in 2014 and were Champions in 2013 while The Drive will be making their first appearance and will be buoyed by the fact that rising star Thanasi Kokkinakis will be eligible to play in January should his Australian Open campaign not extend in to the second week.
Both teams will be taking on the conference champions from across Australia as well as the champion club teams from New Zealand, Japan and other Asia Pacific countries.