Usually finals at the Yukon Tennis Championships are best of three sets, instead of shorter first-to-eight pro sets used in earlier rounds. However, thinking back to last year’s women’s final, a three-hour marathon-match in which Beth Ellis defeated Vickie Roche 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), they decided it best to just play a pro set Sunday at the Mt. McIntyre courts in Whitehorse.
“Every year we plug along and it could go either way,” said Roche. “She was so far ahead, but I decided to keep plugging along.”
Although the match began lopsided, with Ellis taking a 6-2 lead, the final turned into another nail biter as Roche went on a streak to win 9-7.
“As soon as we decided to play a pro set I was like, ‘I have to get ahead at the start,’ that was my strategy,” said Ellis. “I actually came out earlier and warmed up—that makes a difference.
“She has good ground strokes, good passing shots; her serve came on a little better, I guess her whole game came on a little better.”
“Focus,” said Roche, when asked what she changed to turn around the match. “It’s so easy to be disturbed by what’s going on over there, somebody talking.”
Even as Roche narrowed the gap, coming within one game at 7-6, Ellis had her opportunities to close out the match, serving with a pair of match-points.
“I should have been able to walk away with that match,” said Ellis. “My serve, when it’s on, it’s on—I can pull off a good serve and get the point—but it didn’t happen on a match-point.”
In the men’s final, Jan Polivka defeated Mike Tillbrook, 6-1, 6-1.
Last year, Polivka, a local instructor with Tennis Yukon, lost in the finals to Kyle Marchuk, who did not compete this year because of a bout of tennis elbow.
“I just hit the ball over the net more often than Mike,” said Polivka. “Our games are similar, it’s just about mistakes, being more consistent than the other.”
Not without closer contests, Polivka arrived in the finals with an 8-5 pro set win over Justin Halowaty.
“It was tough,” said Polivka. “He played well—he served very well for his first three service games.
“And he played serve-and-volley tennis, which makes him the only person here (who used that strategy). So that was nice.”
Tillbrook was late arriving for the finals and borrowed a racquet to play, but skill levels were the deciding factor, said the New Zealander.
“He’s a much better tennis player than I am,” he said simply when asked about the straight set loss.
Polivka was actually the big winner of the weekend, achieving the trifecta with wins in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
In the mixed final, Polivka and his partner Roche, fresh off the women’s final, defeated Ken Liao and Sheila Senger 8-1. On Saturday, Polivka won the doubles title with his brother Petr, going undefeated in the round robin.
“Our goal is to be a family after the match too,” said Polivka. “So we try not to argue.”
Because of extremely low numbers, the women’s doubles championships was determined by a single match between Ellis and Shelley Dixon versus Lori Muir and Sheila Senger. Dixon and Ellis took the title with an 8-1 pro set win.
“We had more experience than the other two players,” said Ellis. “They were definitely the underdogs, but they rose to the occasion and played quite well.
“It was 8-1, but it was an enjoyable game. It wasn’t a washout.”
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