After a hard-fought loss on Sunday, Yukon’s Kieran Halliday came within points of ending an 18-year drought for the Yukon in a 6-1, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5) loss to Manitoba’s Patrick Fu at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, BC, on Monday.
“The first set, I wasn’t really in it - I couldn’t get anything in and it just didn’t go my way,” said Halliday. “During the break my coach told me to get it together. I started swinging and hitting my shots and it just really worked well.
“In the third set he kind of got back into it, too.”
In the match, which went for more than two-and-a-half hours, Halliday swatted away four match-points for Fu at 5-4 in the third set before dropping the decisive tiebreaker.
“It was fairly close. There was a lot of pressure on both of the players,” said Yukon head coach Jan Polivka. “The player from Manitoba was luckier.”
On Sunday, Halliday gave Saskatchewan’s Alex Waslen a run for his money in a close 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 loss.
Had he won either match, it would have been the first time a Yukoner defeated a provincial player since the 1993 Canada Summer Games, coincidently, also in Kamloops.
“I did well, but I kind of wish I did a little better,” said Halliday.
It was also tough going for Yukon’s mixed doubles team of Aline Halliday and Alex Roberts and men’s doubles team of Trygg Jensen and Khang Pham.
Neither doubles team picked up a set in Kamloops, but they earned some valuable experience for the future.
“This was one of the biggest events we’ve ever competed in,” said Polivka. “It was different because it was a team competition, that was one thing. Another thing is there were referees going around on the courts and everything was really serious - you can recognize that right away. So it was a great experience for the players.
“We’re planning towards the Canada (Summer) Games in two years, so this was preparing them for the next Games.”
While the Western Games are U-14 and U-16 for tennis, the Canada Summer Games are U-16 and U-18, allowing the Yukon to possibly send the same team in two years.
The Yukon was out of contention for team medals from the start, having no women’s singles or women’s doubles players and no wheelchair players.
“It would be great if we had another two or three girls,” said Polivka. “We basically defaulted our women’s singles and women’s doubles.
“We have a boys team, which is nice, but to have some girls would be a big advantage for our team - and wheelchair players as well.”
According to Polivka, there is another missing piece to the puzzle, one the Yukon arguably needs more than the provinces with the long winters in the territory.
“If we had an indoor facility we would be competitive with anyone,” said Polivka.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com