Benalla Lawn will need to regroup and refocus after its division two team suffered a heartbreaking upset at the hands of Avenel in the Benalla District Tennis Association’s grand final on Saturday.
Coming into the match at the Lawn Tennis Club, Benalla was considered the hot favourite for the title after dominating the regular season to finish three matches clear of second-placed Avenel.
And things started well for the home team, with Janine Rofe and Kylie Rofe combining for a comfortable 8-4 women’s victory, though Vince Branigan and Tom Pitty lost a tough 10-12 tiebreaker to let the first men’s rubber slip, 7-8.
With results continuing to roll in, Benalla and Avenel could barely be split, though the visitors did hold a slight break - three games up ahead of the mixed.
But another two defeats in the final three rubbers, including a second tiebreaker, meant Benalla could not make up the difference, going down by four games at the end of play.
Benalla Lawn’s Anthony Burgess said his team’s likely downfall came in the third men’s rubber when Avenel’s Andrew Rutherford and Angus Murray took Burgess and Pitty to task for an easy 8-2 victory.
“That third men’s, we started off alright but then fell into a bit of a heap,” Burgess said.
Janine Rofe was judged the best final player after winning all three of her rubbers, 8-4, 8-6, 8-6, while Avenel’s Andrew Rutherford and Terip Terip's Cindy Hayes won the best men's and women's player of the season respectively.
With mixed emotions following the match, Burgess said there were still many positives to come from his team’s season, despite failing to bring home the flag.
“We were very happy to finish the season off,” he said.
“It was disappointing on the day, but the better team won. Avenel were deserving winners today.
“We’ve got to dig deep and hopefully go again next year.”