The event is called the Back to School Doubles Tournament, which is fitting because Whitehorse tennis players were there to learn and gain experience.
“The main purpose was the juniors because they need to compete and to play tournament matches,” said Tennis Yukon coach Jan Polivka. “For them it was a good experience, especially for the new guys, and they did very well, so I’m glad we were there.”
Eight Yukon players traveled to Juneau, Alaska, over the weekend to play in the doubles event hosted by the Juneau-Douglas High School tennis team. Securing the best results in the junior advanced draw for the Yukon athletes were two doubles teams eventually meeting in the consolation final after first-round losses in the regular draw.
Tennis Yukon decided to split up its two strongest players, Kieran Halliday and Ryan Lane, both of who represented the Yukon at the Canada Summer Games in August. Instead of putting them together, they were paired with two players competing in their first event outside of Whitehorse, with Halliday partnering Khang Pham and Lane partnering Ben Pereira.
“This tournament is such a good one; there’s so many juniors and the draws are big and it’s such a fun tournament,” said Stacy Lewis, president of Tennis Yukon. “We thought it was a good one for Ben and Khang to get their feet wet. Because it was a doubles tournament they could go out with someone more experienced on the court and it was a good chance for them to get some tournament experience.”
Both teams were ousted from the main draw in close losses to Juneau teams, with Lane/Pereira losing 8-6 (in a pro-set) and Halliday/Pham losing in a tie-breaker 8-7 (7-5).
“This was their first time playing outside of Whitehorse, let alone on indoor courts,” said Lewis of Pham and Pereira. “I think they were a little bit nervous and they lost a match in the first round that they could have won.”
After a few rounds of consolation, Lane/Pereira took the finals, defeating their fellow Yukoners 8-2.
Yukon’s Louis Kedziora also competed in the junior advanced division with a partner from Juneau, winning their first match 8-6, but falling in the second round.
A pair of younger players from Whitehorse also made the trip. Angus Clarke, 10, and Ewan Halliday, 8, played an exhibition match against two young Juneau players and steamrolled to a 6-0 win.
“They face the same situation as we do (in Juneau) in terms of not having very many different people for our juniors to play against,” said Lewis. “Ewan and Angus play against each other twice a week, every week – they don’t have much chance to play against other people.
“(Juneau) ended up having kids out sick, so Ewan and Angus only ended up having one match.”
As the only adult player from the territory, Polivka was paired up with a Juneau player and the two advanced to the finals of the men’s draw before losing to a Juneau team.
“They have great indoor facilities, but they don’t have great outdoor facilities,” said Polivka. “That’s why we go there – the weather here (in Whitehorse) in September is not very good for us to play in.”
Yukon’s junior advanced players also competed in the men’s draw, but left winless.
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