TENNIS returned to Traralgon for yet another series of events.

The first two of four tournaments were completed at the weekend, with an M25 (men’s) and a W35 (women’s) ITF event taking place.

Some recognisable names took to the courts of Traralgon over the past week, with many of them, if not all, expected to stay for the second tournament during this week (February 26 to March 3).


Men’s (M25)

It was an Australian affair from the semi-finals onwards. From the final eight in the quarter finals, six were Australians.

Top seeded players like Australia’s Li Tu (No. 1 seed), Omar Jasika (No. 2), Alex Bolt (No. 3), James McCabe (No. 4) and Luke Saville (No. 5) were all contenders.

But the week of tennis ultimately boiled down to a one versus two seed in the final, which saw Tu play Jasika.

Tu saw a career-high ATP ranking of 190 in October 2022, but currently sits ranked 209th, while Jasika was far from Tu’s highest heights, currently ranked 611th, with a career-high ATP ranking of 223.

A tough first set came down to a tiebreak, which was then dominated by Jasika to take the first set, with the second set following suit with the tiebreak.

Jasika cruised to the title, and his share of the $25,000 pot up for grabs with the straight-sets victory, 7-6, 6-2.

Notable Aussie names in the men’s main draw throughout the week included Pavle Marinkov, who competed at the Traralgon Junior International last month – he was knocked out in the second round of qualifying; the son of Lleyton Hewitt, Cruz, who was knocked out in the first round of qualifying; and Traralgon’s Josh Charlton, who recently returned from college, was also knocked out in the second qualifying round.

Charlton however had a much better run in the doubles, with partner Blake Ellis – together the third seed.

The duo charged to the final without dropping a set, passing Jesse Delaney and Ajeet Rai 6-4, 6-4; then Jake Delaney and Luke Saville in the quarter finals 6-3, 7-6; progressing to the final with a 6-3, 6-2 win over first seed Blake Bayldon and Kody Pearson.

Yet, the pair was brought to a grinding halt in the final, going down in straight sets 6-3, 6-7, to finish runners-up.

Hewitt also competed in the doubles with partner Blake Mott, but the pair was eliminated in the first round, going down to the first seed 6-4, 6-0.


Women’s (W35)

THE women’s tournament had a flipped script.

Only two Aussies made it to the quarter finals in the singles draw – the first and second seed – with only one progressing as far as the semi finals.

Number 1 seed from Australia, Priscilla Hon, fought through seven sets in three games to earn a semi final berth, but was stopped in her tracks by Japan’s Naho Sato.

Hon is currently ranked 201st in the world, almost double of her highest ranking of 118th, earnt in 2019. Hon has 13 ITF titles to her name.

Meanwhile, Number 2 seed from Australia, Destanee Aiava was knocked out in the quarters by eventual winner – fifth seed Amarni Banks.

Aiava was ranked inside the top 200 women in the world ahead of the tournament, coming in 198th. Aiava has seven ITF titles so far in her career.

Banks defeated Sato in straight sets to secure the title, 6-3, 6-3.

Other notable names in the women’s singles draw included Melissa Ercan, who won the 2023 Traralgon Junior International – now representing Australia. She was knocked out in the second round; and Sale’s Jess Board couldn’t make it through qualifying, knocked out in the second round.

This year’s Traralgon Junior International winner, Australia’s Emerson Jones, was expected to hit the courts of Traralgon once again, but she withdrew. She is however on the list to compete in the second week.


ACTION continues at the Traralgon Tennis Association this week, with another event currently in progress for both men (M25) and women (W35), finishing this Sunday (March 3).