Statham wins 6th invitational

Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational finalist Finn Tearney, of Wellington, (left) and overall winner Rubin Statham, of Auckland, who won his sixth invitational title on December 29. Photo: Liz Newell

THE 9th Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational showcased some of New Zealand’s strongest male tennis players during two days of action.

About 400 people watched the court action on December 28 and 29, with players vying for the Willans Trophy.

Rubin Statham took the invitational title for the sixth time, beating Finn Tearney 6-1 7-5, after a match described as a fightcame in strong in the first set, but Tearney built momentum going into the second.

Tearney, of Wellington, playing in his ninth Te Anau invitational, won the Willans Trophy in 2019.

Back to defend his Te Anau Tennis Invitational title, Statham is New Zealand’s top singles player and spearheaded the New Zealand Davis Cup team against South Korea in September, in Rhode Island.

Statham, who is New Zealand’s most successful Davis Cup player (with 32 wins) is lobbying for the Kiwi team’s next Davis Cup game against Uruguay in March to be played in Te Anau.

“Statham would love to see Te Anau host the next Davis Cup and there is certainly enthusiasm from the local tennis community,” Te Anau Tennis Invitational Committee member Murray Willans said.

Canterbury’s Connor Heap, returning for a second crack at the title, took 3rd place, beating Corban Crowther, of Havelock North 6-3 6-2, while Rob Reynolds beat Francisco Mendieta, on debut in Te Anau, 6-2 6-3, for 5th and 6th places.

Crowther was the youngest player in the tournament this year and has some outstanding junior results to his name, winning the national under-18s championship in 2019 at 16 years old.

It was Reynolds’ third time vying for the Willans Trophy, looking to improve on his 2017 and 2019 results.

The withdrawal of Alex Klintcharov due to injury saw up-and-coming player Tim Willans, of Te Anau, and fellow local Sky Lovill playing an exhibition match, which Lovill won 6-2 6-3.

The tournament, and the auction which runs with it, subsidises coaching for up to 100 Southlanders aged 5-14 each year.