30 October 2022 | Tennis SA

Rinky Hijikata (NSW) and Kimberly Birrell (Qld) are the 2022 City of Playford Tennis International champions after taking out the singles titles in Elizabeth East, South Australia today.

After making his ATP Challenger Tour debut at Playford in 2019, fifth seed Hijikata defeated sixth seed Rio Noguchi (JPN) 6-1 6-1 to claim his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title.

Twenty one-year-old Hijikata is the youngest Australian to win an ATP Challenger Tour title since 2018, when a 19-year-old Alexei Popyrin (NSW) won in Jinan, China.

“I am just over the moon. It’s a little bit of a relief to get my first title, it’s not easy to get over that hump so to be able to do that this week and at home in Australia as well, I am pretty proud of the way I played this week,” Hijikata said.

“It’s been a great week, it’s nice to be back home in Australia. I haven’t played here since the start of the year, so it feels great to be back.”

On the women’s side, Kimberly Birrell (Qld) defeated Maddison Inglis (WA) 3-6 7-5 6-4, overcoming two rain delays and some wild weather conditions to take the win in just under three hours.

The win saw Birrell claim her first singles title since 2018 and follows two-and-a-half years away from the sport due to an elbow injury.

“It means so much to win here in Playford. I’ve had a really tough couple of years and to be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play tennis again, let alone make it back to this level,” Birrell said.

“I am just so happy to have made it to the end of the tournament. To win at this level after so many years is really special and I am not going to forget this week.”

Men’s Singles 
[5] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) d [6] Rio Noguchi (JPN) 6-1 6-1

Women’s Singles 
[6] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) d [3] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 3-6 7-5 6-4

Men’s Doubles 
Jeremy Beale (AUS)/Calum Puttergill (AUS) d Rio Noguchi (JPN)/Yusuke Takahashi (JPN) 7-6(2) 6-4

Women’s Doubles
Alexandra Bozovic (AUS)/Talia Gibson (AUS) d [1] Na-Lae Han (KOR)/Priska Madelyn Nugroho (INA) 7-5 6-4