Great Southern tennis hits off for season 2021-22 this weekend with the direct help of its state governing body, Tennis SA.
Tennis SA competition rep Luke Doughty has taken a role akin to match recorder for the association to assist in setting up, overseeing competitions, tournaments and assisting in dispute resolutions.
Tennis SA has recognised the challenges for volunteers across grass roots tennis and has taken a more hands on role in supporting tennis associations.
Great Southern invited Tennis SA to come on board for a trial this season and Luke has been busy getting to understand the workings of the Great Southern Tennis Association and its respective clubs.
The junior competition for season 2021-22 has plenty of keen new players keen to have their parents up at the crack of dawn to arrive early at the courts. The Orange Ball competition has a mammoth 11 teams in the competition. The next division 5 (green ball) has 7 teams as does division 4. Division 3 has 4 teams and with no teams deemed at division 2 level, division 1 juniors have a healthy 6 teams. It's pleasing to see almost all clubs represented with multiple teams and full credit to Victor Harbor and Normanville who have 10 and 7 junior teams respectively.
The Open (adults) competition has seen some changes occur in the off season with John Wesley Tennis Club not participating in the association and team composition changes to division 1 and 2.
The doubles competition retain their 4 players per team but division 1 and 2 are now 4 person teams. They will consist of 2 men and 2 ladies. This contrasts with the 4 men and 2 ladies in division 1 and 4 men and 4 ladies for division 2 of previous seasons. Division 2 will use the same match format of division 1 of a best of 3 sets same gender double and a 9-game single for the men and a 6-game for ladies. This sadly for some sees the demise of the mixed doubles component that has been a mainstay of division 2 for many years.
The change of the team composition in division 1 now means the final result coming down to sets and games is now a possibility which will please many current division 1 players.
There are healthy numbers for the three open divisions with the doubles having 9 teams, division 2 - 7 teams and division 1 - 6 teams.
Open division 1 has Goolwa, Back Valley, Victor Harbor and Inman Valley returning from last season being joined by Myponga-Sellicks and Pt Elliot returning to the top flight. Goolwa have been bolstered by the return of big names of Travis Roach, Amy Jones and Mel Ramsey and with Mike Howard leading the charge they should start favourites to win the flag.
Their opponent this Saturday, Inman Valley will once again be led by Darren Lush with young star Dylan Wilson suiting up but being at Goolwa, the home side should score the win.
Last years premiers Back Valley will be lead by the iron men duo of Craig Littlely and Jamie Davis with Tanya's Crompton and Milne and Kerryn Pearsons back again to grind their opposition into submission. They'll welcome the challenge of newly promoted Myponga-Sellicks who with Ben Schmidt, Craig McCallum and the experienced Amy Veron and Kellie Gailbraith in the fold, will put a formidable challenge, but Back Valley should be too strong.
Last season's runner up Victor Harbor will be looking for further improvement from their stable of youngsters to go one step better this season. Jakob Arbon, Hugo Smit and the Millards of Jaimee and Tyla are returning and will travel to Pt Elliot to see if they can impose their will early.
Pt Elliot have a strong line-up with Julianne Lowrey, Kathryn Witcombe returning with Harry and Charlie Vincent and Scott McPhee looking to score a confidence boosting win. This will be a good contest with plenty of entertainment with the home side of Pt Elliot scoring a close upset win.