Captain Grumley leading the way

Bros: Traralgon's Ben Grumley (left) with teammate Zinovii Nahirniak of Ukraine at the ITA Cup. Photograph: Ben Grumley/Instagram




LOCAL tennis export, Ben Grumley has captained the William Woods University tennis program to an emphatic end to their regular season.

Grumley, now in his senior year of college, has helped lead William Woods to a clean sweep at the ITA Central West Regional Championships.

William Woods won titles in men’s and women’s singles, as well as men’s and women’s doubles to secure the sweep.

Being his final year, Grumley was hoping to endure some success that he was unable to achieve in years gone past.

“It was my doubles partner and I’s first time playing competitive matches, so we were interested to see how it went,” Grumley said.

“We played really well when we needed to and ultimately ended up winning the title in a close one.”

Over the three-day tournament, Grumley and his doubles partner, Ukrainian Zinovii Nahirniak, played five doubles matches.

Grumley also entered the singles tournament but lost in the semi-final to none other than Nahirniak.

The doubles pair of Grumley and Nahirniak entered as the third seed, and upon reaching the final, they had to overcome the first seeded senior pair of Michael Beltran and Martin Milos from McPherson College in Kansas.

“We honestly felt pretty confident. Like I said it was our first time playing together and we didn’t really have anything to lose,” Grumley said.

The McPherson College pair were no strangers to Grumley and Nahirniak, who had faced them previously throughout their years at William Woods.

“My doubles partner played them in the final last year and ultimately lost. So this year we were looking for some revenge or some sort,” Grumley added.

“We knew we were playing some really good tennis and we were excited to get the job done.”

The William Woods pair got the job done indeed, winning 6-4, 3-6, 13-11, with celebrations commencing then and there.

“Being able to celebrate with my teammates and coaches who also work so hard that me and Zinovii could get to this position was the best bit,” Grumley said.

“Then to realise that we swept the whole draw, winning with teammates, winning the men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles in tight matches was unreal.”

The tournament sweep has not only proved that Grumley and William Woods can bring it to the best, but it also installed a newfound confidence in the team for the rest of the season ahead.

Following their championship success, William Woods then qualified for the 2023 ITA Cup, which was be held in Rome, Georgia.

Sixteen doubles pairs take part in this tournament, truly where the best play against the best at a high level.

Grumley and Zinovii succumbed to the eventual semi finalists, going down 4-6, 6-1, 8-10 in the Round of 16.

Nonetheless, the pair will have taken away a wealth of experience playing at a new level.

In his final year in the program, Grumley is hoping to back up on his form, as well as continue to succeed on the big stage.

“This season is my last so I’m just trying to back up a great regular season last year, but also have some further success in our national tournaments,” he said.

“We have indoor nationals in February to kick off our season which I’m really looking forward to.

“We have a really solid team this year that I know are hungry for more success. Ultimately, I just love being out there competing with the guys in the courts next to me, so there’s not a whole lot more I could ask for.”