AFTER 20 straight years of hitting aces and winners, the Milton Ulladulla District Tennis Association’s annual seniors tournament is set for fireworks once again this weekend.
Since its initiation in 1999, as part of the Shoalhaven City Council’s summer games tourist promotion, the event it set for its biggest one yet, from February 15-17.
“This year we have more entries than ever before, with 215 people playing in one or more events,” Milton Ulladulla District Tennis Association’s Janice Shalhoub said.
“There are ability and age divisions for men’s and women’s singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles, ranging in ages at five year intervals from 35 to 70 – all played in a round robin format.
“After 20 years, the event is still bringing more than 200 visitors to the Shoalhaven every February, many who stay for a week or more.
“Players flock to this tournament each year as they are guaranteed excellent tennis in a social and friendly atmosphere.”
During the three-day tournament, all 12 courts at the Ulladulla facility will be used, as well as another four between Milton and Kioloa – with a host of locals taking part.
“Although this event is targeted at visitors, there are some local members who play to help make up the numbers in various categories,” Janice said.
“Mike Lynn and Donna Davis will contest the singles events and Ulladulla ladies doubles champions Kerri Cassidy and Deb Loves will pit their skills against a very strong field on Sunday morning.
“Norm Holcroft and Paul Woodcock will also be in action on Saturday morning, in the 65 years men’s doubles.”
As well as a number of strong local hopes, the playing field contains plenty of big names.
“This year Andrew Rae from Melbourne returns, who is the world number one player in singles and doubles in the over 65 age group,” Janice said.
“As well as him, ex-local Helen Worland, who is ranked in the world’s top 20 players for her age, returns.
“Our oldest player Ron Lewis, age 87, returns again and our youngest player Alison Crealy age 40, will be competing for the first time at Ulladulla.
“Alison is the daughter of Dick Crealy who represented Australia in Davis Cup in the 1970s.”
On Friday, action will run from 11am until 5pm with Saturday and Sunday’s play starting at 8am and finishing at 6pm.
After play is finished on Saturday, there will be a social event, where the MUDTC will provide a barbecue dinner for competitors and volunteers, enabling everyone to get together and socialise off the courts.
Janice acknowledged the hard work of MUDTA co-ordinator Mary Lou Barclay and Val Crook, who have been putting this tournament together since October.