Coast titles to Beckman, Blanch
By TONY WHITE
LOCAL tennis identity Michael Beckman started winning events at the North Coast Tennis Championships as a 15-year-old.
Along with his elder brother Philip, 42, the Beckman name has become synonymous with the long running Grafton tournament. They have won 26 singles titles and countless doubles and mixed events between them.
Yesterday, the 38-year No. 1 seed collected his seventh open singles title in the 78th running of the event when he defeated No. 2 seed, Brendan Moore from Lismore, 6-2, 6-4 in the men's final.
"I felt good today. I started to middle the ball a lot better than yesterday (Sunday)," Beckman said. "My shots weren't working on Sunday but I managed to get through.
"When I started to middle the ball today (Monday) I got more confident as the match went on."
Beckman rounded out the match with a great ace into the south-western corner.
"I've been in the final 13-times. It's always nice to win," he said. "And it's always nice to play before a good crowd. It makes you concentrate better.
"Home crowd support is always nice."
For the past few years Beckman, a full-time tennis coach at the Grafton Tennis Centre, has dusted off the competitive cobwebs and come out of retirement just to play in the North Coast Open.
"These days I only play one tournament a year, the North Coast Open," he said. "About a week before I start limbering up the old muscles and have a bit of practice.
"This is a really great tournament, well run and always gets good numbers.
"That's why people come here from all over.
"I can't think of many country tournaments that have been running anywhere near as long."
Local darling of the courts Kelly Blanch also recorded her seventh singles title when she beat Lismore's Sarah Wray 6-3, 6-4 in the women's final.
Blanch and Michael Beckman also combined on Sunday evening to win the open mixed final 6-2, 6-1 over Nick Ada and Ellie Wray.
Blanch, the fiancee of Grafton Ghosts league star and Clarence River Cricket Association representative Chris Adamson, said the women's final was a close encounter.
"It was a tight match and a matter of who made the least unforced errors," she said. "I beat Sarah in the semi-final last year in another close one. Winning is a bit of a relief. I wasn't real confident. I've had ongoing shoulder problems for a couple of years. Fortunately it held up."
Blanch left for America after Year 12 as a 17-year-old to take up a scholarship at Indiana University. She played in satellite tournaments in America, Europe and Australia before shoulder problems forced her to curtail her tournament play.