Ou earns maiden Otago Open singles title

Otago Tennis Open tournament winner Paddy Ou in action against Ryan Eggers at the Stevenson...
Otago Tennis Open tournament winner Paddy Ou in action against Ryan Eggers at the Stevenson Tennis Centre, Logan Park, yesterday. Tournament director/line umpire Ahmad Abdul-Rahman is behind him. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Paddy Ou claimed his maiden Otago Open singles title yesterday, coming back from the brink against Ryan Eggers to win the final at the Stevenson Tennis Centre.

Eggers, who filled the runner-up spot for the second year running, had a match point at 5-3 up in the second set. He was unable to convert, and soon afterwards was hobbled by a leg injury which restricted his movement and turned the final in favour of Ou, who prevailed in three sets.

Eggers had taken the harder road to the final, coming through a two-and-a-half-hour examination administered by Mitch Sizemore. The first set of the semi went to Eggers in a tiebreak.

Sizemore showed flashes of his attacking prowess throughout the match but would have been disappointed to hand the set to Eggers with two double faults.

At five-all in the second set a series of forehand errors from Sizemore gave Eggers the crucial break, allowing him to serve out the match 7-6, 7-5.

Ou’s smoother path came at the expense of Ben Smith, his semi-final opponent and a newcomer from Canterbury. Smith succumbed 6-0, 6-2.

The final started in a light breeze that strengthened and became more of a factor as the match wore on.

Eggers kept Ou largely pinned to the baseline, containing his more attacking opponent with deep slice and upsetting his rhythm with deft drop shots. Eggers took the first set 6-3.

The Balclutha product maintained his momentum at the start of the second set, leading 3-0 and then 4-1 and seemingly cruising to victory. Ou hung in there and broke back, but crucial hold of serve earned after several exhilarating long rallies gave Eggers a 5-3 lead.

Ou saved a match point at 30-40 in the following game, then took the next two points to give himself a psychological boost before Eggers served for the title. Ou had other ideas, breaking the Eggers’ serve to even the scores at 5-5.

In the following game, Eggers suffered his leg injury when chasing down an angled drop shot. Stoically electing not to take an injury break, Eggers played through but was down on foot speed. Ou pounced with a series of angled short balls, a tactic that gave him the set 7-5.

The momentum was now with Ou. Eggers continued to battle hard, his willpower carrying him to 3-3 in the decider, but Ou closed it out for a richly earned 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 win.

Ou and Eggers had earlier been on opposite sides of the net in the men’s doubles final. Ou, who was partnered by Sizemore, took the first set over Eggers and Gavin Mockford 6-4, sealing the set breaking the Mockford serve.

Mockford and Eggers piled the pressure on early in the second set, returning and volleying well in breaking Ou’s serve twice for a 4-1 lead. Ou and Sizemore regathered and tightened up their game to reel off five straight games for a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Mat McCutcheon and Ange Fitzgerald took out the mixed doubles, overcoming sibling duo Thomas and Crystal Chiang 6-1, 6-3.

Covid-19 related withdrawals decimated the women’s singles event and forced its cancellation.

 - Fraser Richardson

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