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11 December 2020 | Tennis Tasmania

Burnie Tennis Club is set to light up on Saturday afternoon when it plays host to a trio of North West Tennis League finals.

The A-Grade final will see two dominant forces meet in the Burnie Eagles and Devonport City, with both sides boasting top-end talent. 

Highlighting the contest will be the rivalry between US college athlete Ben Cawston (pictured above) and Sam Whitehead, who himself heads to Texas next August to commence a college scholarship

Cawston will be supported by state soccer representative Connor Parke and respected veteran Shaun Summers, who should be evenly matched against Devonport young gun Jake Elmer and Jake Gleeson.

The A-Reserve final will see two Devonport Tennis Club sides face off, with the Gray Hiller-led Back Beach Bandits set to face off against the Eugene St Elks, while the B Grade final will be contested by the Latrobe Demons and Wynard-Somerset.

Summers hailed the commitment from players and clubs from the region on Friday ahead of the weekend deciders.

“This has been a really successful season, with a bunch of college players like Benny Cawston and Elliot Johnstone leading the way,” he said.

“Young guys like Jake Elmer and Oliver Hadley from Launceston have also strengthened the competition.”

“To see two smaller clubs like Latrobe and Wynyard-Somerset in the B Grade final is encouraging; they’ve both performed well this season.”

Cawston, who has recently returned from the United States and featured heavily in local competition in the back half of 2020, echoed Summers’ sentiment.

“It’s been a great season up until this point,” he said.

“There have been a lot of solid teams show up across all divisions, and in the A-Grade final, there’s nothing to separate the two sides.”

“It will come down to which team wants it more.”

Sam Whitehead will spearhead the Devonport City attack on Saturday

Whitehead, who heads off to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley next year, agrees with Cawston’s take on the match up.

“The final should be a tight contest and we’ll be looking to draw inspiration from Gray Hiller, who is one of the greats of tennis in the North West.”

The final caps off a busy month for players from the region, following the recent Tennis North vs North West Tennis League Challenge Day in Launceston.

Despite suggestions of taking it easy in January, Summers believes players are keen build on the momentum of December’s action.

“The Challenge Day and this season have reinvigorated everyone to keep playing and getting better; and we’re hopeful of a Tri-Series event including teams from the North and South of coming together in a month or so,” he said.

All three finals will commence at 1:00pm on Saturday at Burnie Tennis Club.