Shane Nicholls won his first Manitoba Open title, Elinor Shpunt captured 19 total titles at adult/junior tournaments, and Dong Won Kang won the triple crown at the Manitoba Senior Championships: those are among the highlights of the 2016 Tennis Manitoba tournament year.
Nicholls beat defending champion Stephen Dubienski 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Kildonan Tennis Club in August to win the men’s Open singles event at the Manitoba Open. Four titles were captured by Nicholls in 2016: he also won the men’s Open singles at the WLTC Open, Manitoba Clay Court Championships and Manitoba Finals. Nicholls was runner-up to Manitoba’s top ranked player Kevin Kylar at the Deer Lodge Classic. Kylar, who competed in the main draw at the National Bank Challenger pro tournament in Winnipeg this past summer, also won the men’s Open singles titles at the Tuxedo Open and Reflections Dental Singles Championships at Winnipeg Winter Club.
Shpunt was a standout performer at adult and junior tournaments in 2016. She won 11 titles at adult tournaments: mixed Open doubles with Tony Weekes, women’s 4.5 singles and mixed 4.5 doubles with Chris Shay at the WLTC Open; women’s Open singles at the Deer Lodge Classic; women’s Open singles and mixed 4.5 doubles with Shay at the Manitoba Clay Court Championships; women’s 4.5 singles and mixed 4.5 doubles with Shay at the Tuxedo Open; women’s 4.5 singles at the Manitoba Open; women’s Open singles at the Manitoba Finals; and women’s 4.5 doubles with Ekaterina Zhupanova at the Urecoat Doubles Christmas Classic at Winnipeg Winter Club.
In addition, Shpunt captured eight titles at junior tournaments: girls’ U12 and girls’ U16 at the Kildonan Junior Open; girls’ U14 at the Tuxedo Junior Open; girls’ U14 at the Sargent Park Tennis Garden Junior Open; girls’ U12 and girls’ U14 at the Prairie Outdoor Junior Championships; and girls’ U14 and girls’ U16 at the Deer Lodge Junior Classic.
Kang also had an outstanding year in Tennis Manitoba tournaments. He won three titles at the Manitoba Senior Championships (men’s 55+ singles, men’s 45+ doubles with Tony Weekes and mixed 35+ doubles with Hiroko Nameishi) and two titles at the Manitoba Open (men’s 4.5 doubles with Chris Shay and mixed 4.5 doubles with Lydia Gloria). Kang also won the men’s 4.5 doubles at the Tuxedo Open with Glen Ziprick.
New to adult tournaments this year were men’s 5.0 and 2.5 singles events. Tier 2 events for players with little or new tournament experience were added to all the junior tournaments.
In 2016, Tennis Manitoba organized seven adult tournaments with an average of 83 players per tournament (up from an average of 66 players in 2015). Five junior tournaments were organized with an average of 29 players per tournament (up from an average of 20 players in 2015). Many of the junior tournaments in 2016 attracted players from out-of-province, including players from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Tennis Manitoba also put on a 3.5/2.5 tournament at Sargent Park Tennis Garden in addition to the seniors’ tournament at Taylor Tennis Club and the inaugural Manitoba Finals hosted at three clubs (Deer Lodge, Tuxedo and Winnipeg Lawn). The Manitoba Finals served as a season-ending championship.
Many Manitoba tournament players achieved success beyond the provincial borders in 2016. Kylar picked up an ATP Point at the F5 Futures in Saskatoon in July, beating American Andrew Dottino 6-1, 6-0 in the men’s singles main draw. Reece Carter placed fifth in singles and was a finalist in doubles with partner Mia Kupres of Alberta at the U12 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. At the Junior Orange Bowl International in Florida in December, Carter placed 13-16 in girls’ U12 singles after winning five matches.
At the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships held in Vancouver in October, Manitoba was represented by James Bernus, Sam Unrau and Jason Betker. Bernus beat Unrau 7-6, 6-2 in the men’s Flight 3 singles final beating Betker 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.