Juneau takes first Capital Cup since 2000

Spectators who saw the Capital Cup on the weekend witnessed something special. To put it bluntly, the annual tennis tourney between Juneau and…

Spectators who saw the Capital Cup on the weekend witnessed something special.

To put it bluntly, the annual tennis tourney between Juneau and Whitehorse rarely takes place.

But on Sunday, after three days of tennis at the courts at Mt. McIntyre, Juneau defeated Whitehorse 204 games to 173, retaining its reigning champ title.

That title defended dates back to 2000, when the tournament last took place.

In fact, though this year marks the 25th  anniversary of the first Capital Cup, last weekend’s tournament was only the sixth time it has taken place.

“Stacy Lewis, president of Tennis Yukon, had a great idea to bring it back,” said Leighann Chalykoff, one of the tournament organizers. “It’s a fun rivalry that we’ve started up again.”

Because Whitehorse produced twice as many players as Juneau, which had 20, the winning city was determined only by matches between Whitehorse and Juneau competitors.

So theoretically, by totalling up the games instead of the matches, a city could win the Cup while having still lost more matches.

Despite dropping the middle set to love, Jan Polivka defeated Kyle Marchuk 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3) for the men’s singles title. Both men were representing Whitehorse.

Up with triple match point in the third set tiebreaker, Polivka won the match on a cross-court backhand that clipped the let-tape and tumbled onto Marchuk’s side.

“I was nervous at the time,” said Polivka, setting the scene. “I have to say it was a very lucky shot — it helped me a lot. But I hoped I would win without a shot like that.

“It was a very weird game,” he added, referring to the unbalanced opening sets of the match.

“It took a bit to get the feel,” said Marchuk. “I was playing with a racquet that wasn’t mine — I had gone through a few strings — so I finally got the feel and came back to win the second.”

Even after getting a feel for the borrowed racquet, it was definitely not the start of a love affair.

After the unexpected end to the match, Marchuk playfully tossed the racquet over the fence.

“I saw a nice tuff of grass over there and I aimed for that. I hope I hit it,” said Marchuk, laughing. “I apologized (to the owner) while it was still in the air.”

Polivka and Marchuk also played in the men’s doubles final, but this time they were on the same side of the net.

The singles finalists captured the doubles title with a three-set win over Justin Halowaty and Van Pham of Whitehorse, taking the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

“We were very tired, so it was hard,” said Polivka. “But we got focused in the third set and we won.”

Although tired, Polivka and Marchuk’s lapse in the second set may have had other influences.

“I think it was probably the Big Macs we had; we had someone run out and grab us a couple,” said Marchuk. “I think we ate those pretty quick and they were sitting heavy in the belly.”

In the women’s draw, Juneau’s Mona Warnall took the singles title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Whitehorse’s Chalykoff.

Breaking from convention, each finalist failed to hold serve in the match’s first nine games. Warnall finally won the first set with the first successful service game of the match at 5-4.

“The wind was a factor. I don’t play outdoors,” said Warnall. “It was a new dynamic. It was a challenge, but lots of fun.”

“The wind definitely doesn’t help,” said Chalykoff. “The wind was blowing very directly one way, so when you’re on the far side it’s really easy to hit long.”

Warnall also found victory in the mixed-doubles draw, taking the title with partner Alavini Lata.

In women’s doubles two Whitehorse teams battled it out in a fairly fast two-setter.

Tara Marchuk and Rachel Drummond defeated Marisa Drummond and Laurie Drummond, 6-3, 6-1.

“It was interesting because we were playing Rachel’s sister and her mom,” said Tara Marchuk. “We kind of know how to play them because we’ve played them a lot before.”

A big reason for Juneau’s win was Wesley Bowman, 17, who went undefeated in the junior’s round-robin and was the only competitor out of the four juniors not from Whitehorse.

“Probably Sophia (Flather),” said Bowman, when asked who was his hardest opponent. “She was really consistent and got everything back. We traded off, taking each other’s serve until the tiebreaker and I pulled it out and won.”

Instead of playing best-of-three sets, the juniors played pro-sets (first to nine games with a tie-breaker at 8-8.)

Flather finished second in the robin, followed by Ryan Lane and Khang Pham in fourth.

Many details need to be worked out, but not only is Tennis Yukon hoping to solidify the Capital Cup as an annual event, it is also considering an idea to have both cities host it each year.

“Juneau has an indoor facility,” said Chalykoff. “So we’re hoping to maybe go to Juneau in the winter and do the tournament twice a year.”