Terrific Te Anau tennis

Te Anau Tennis Invitational winner Rubin Statham (left) with Ian Willans. PHOTO: Barry Harcourt

The 2017 Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational was the most successful yet with large crowds delighting in the intense matches.

The fifth annual event was held on Thursday, December 28 and Friday 29 with eight of New Zealand's top male tennis players competing for $200,000 in prize money. Auckland's Rubin Statham won the title for the third time, beating Finn Tearney in the final 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. 

Te Anau Tennis Club president Greg Sheppard said the event went "wonderfully well" with players and spectators indicating how much they enjoyed the tournament.

"It seems to be our most successful year, I've had good feedback from everyone I've spoken to."

Mr Sheppard said winner Rubin Statham had never lost a tennis match at Te Anau, but he had to battle to make the final.

"His semi-final against Wellington-based Rhett Purcell was one of the best games of tennis we've had here in five years."

The score was 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

The players enjoyed themselves so much that they've all indicated they want to come back again.

"All eight have said this is their favourite tournament to play in  New Zealand."

Te Anau Tennis Club committee member Murray Willans estimated there would have been between 350 and 400 people in attendance over the two days.

"There were really good numbers, all the tables were sold out. We had really good support and probably the best tennis we've seen there, real competitive games."

Mr Willans said he was pleased that word seemed to be getting out about the good quality of tennis being played at the tournament each year.

"It's a laid back sort of tournament and the players just love it, they're ringing us now wanting an invite."

Another exciting prospect was having young tennis players watch the tournament and see how far they could go with the game, Mr Willans said. Ten-time Grand Slam champion Cara Black took part in a doubles exhibition game, but also spoke to around 60 people about her life on the circuit.

Both Mr Sheppard and Mr Willans wanted to thank the sponsors, volunteers, spectators and everyone who made the event such a success.

"We've got fantastic community support," Mr Sheppard said.


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