Bignell too good for strong field

Albany Advertiser

Kojonup’s David Bignell dominated play at the annual Albany Open tennis tournament to win two A-grade titles at the weekend in what was considered one of the strongest fields in several years.

Bignell, who recently returned from a stint playing in Europe, partnered defending champion Glenn Thompson in the men’s A-grade doubles and they lived up to their number-one seeding, convincingly winning the title at Emu Point Tennis Club on Saturday.

The pair were too strong for all opponents, going through the day undefeated and claiming the title by one set over Cranbrook’s John Tuckett and Tambellup’s Justin Taylor whose only loss in the nine-team field was 2-6 to Bignell and Thompson.

Playing round-robin matches to a clock to ensure competition ended about 5pm, there was strong tennis all day, with several sets decided by sudden-death deuce points.

One of those was when Bignell and Thompson got off to a flying 4-0 start in their set against Albany’s Steven Kerr and Nathan Watson, before Kerr and Watson hit back to level scores 4-4.

Play was in the ninth game when the timer sounded. With the game at deuce, there was a scramble of shots from both sides of the net before Watson missed a high back-hand volley to hand Bignell and Thompson the set 5-4.

Albany’s Max Loveridge and Perth’s Geoff Hodsdon also gave Bignell and Thompson a scare, losing a close set 4-5.

There were six pairs in ladies A-grade doubles, with Albany’s Jenny Rickerby and Porongurup’s Mary Harma going one better than their runner-up result last year, winning four sets to take the title from Albany’s Michelle Cook and Pauline Heilbron, who were the runners-up with three sets. Two divisions of men’s B-grade battled it out before the top team from each division played a final to decide the title winner.

Albany veteran Alan Crook paired with long-time tennis partner Lawrence Steele to defeat Albany’s Ross Alexander and Greg Cook in the final 7-3.

In the women’s B-grade, Albany’s Lynda James and Yvonne Hinkley won six sets and the title, while Albany’s Kirsty Pearce and Busselton’s Deanne Smith were runners-up with four sets.

Players returned to the courts on Sunday for mixed doubles competition, with the A-grade division again stacked with talent.

The field included Saturday’s champion David Bignell who partnered 14-year-old Sophie Tuckett from Cranbrook, and defending champions Matt Thompson and Emma Russell from Albany.

Bignell and Tuckett got off to a flying start, defeating Albany’s Nathan Watson and Michelle Cook 6-2 in their first set of the day.

They went on to win another three matches in a row before Hodsdon and Rickerby halted their run with a 6-3 win.

Despite their first set loss, Watson and Cook found form to win their next six sets, including a 6-1 win over Thomson and Russell and a 6-2 defeat of tough opponents Les Bairstow and Sam Capararo.

At the end of play, Bignell and Tuckett tied with Watson and Cook on sets won, forcing a countback before Bignell and Tuckett were declared champions by one game.

There were again two divisions in B-grade, with Alan Crook and Mary Harma taking on the in-form Ray Willock and Kirsty Pearce.

A close contest right to the end, with Crook and Harma eventually winning 7-5.

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