George Morfitt

George Morfitt

Hundreds court title at Classic

Johane Mui takes Women's 45 Singles crown in marathon match

It’s been another classic start to the new year for Oak Bay, with hundreds making their way through Oak Bay Rec’s tennis bubble for the New Year’s Classic.

Ed Bakker, tennis co-ordinator with Recreation Oak Bay, said this year’s was the third biggest Classic to date, with 241 players in 31 separate events.

“I was beaming on the final Sunday. The only concern was the weather, and boy it was windy,” said Bakker.

“I was thinking back to previous years where the bubble had been blown down and I thought the only thing that could go wrong today is if we have a power outage or the bubble goes like Toto. Lucky, the tennis gods were shining on me and the weather held off enough to let me finish the tournament.”

He said the highlight of the tournament took place Sunday morning when No. 1 seed Johane Mui defeated No. 2 seed Heather Tasker-Brown in the Women’s 45 Singles.

“It was an epic three-set battle that took over three hours. It was a wonderful see-saw battle.”

Bakker said the other notable result was Austin Hoole making it to the final in both the Men’s 5.0 Singles and Men’s 5.0 Doubles. Hoole lost the singles final to Wesley Bertsch but claimed the doubles crown with partner Gerald Yung. Yung also topped the field in Mixed Doubles with partner Hannah Sulz.

For many of those taking part in the New Year’s Classic the chance to just get out on the court was more important than the final standings.

“As long as you can see the ball and move a little bit, it’s a wonderful lifetime game,” said George Morfitt. “You get hand-eye co-ordination, you get to move and you get to meet new people.”

Morfitt, 78, has played in the Classic several times in the past but hasn’t taken part for the past few years.

“I’m just getting back to it now and I just love the game. I’ve played it since I was 11 years old,” said Morfitt, who started playing while Mackenzie King was prime minister.

Morfitt still plays tennis twice a week, and when asked if he’s getting better he lets out a laugh.

“It’s a relative thing. I’m not as good as I was but I’m still doing all right and I’m still happy.”

Morfitt finished third in the over-70 division and won the men’s 3.0 doubles title with partner Bill Code.

One of Morfitt’s opponents in the over-70 division was 72-year-old Roman Downarowicz.

“I love it,” said Downarowicz, who took the men’s doubles crown with partner Gerald Doyle. It was Downarowicz second Classic title, winning the doubles event  in 2005.

He started playing tennis a quarter-century ago back in Poland, and still plays two or three times a week.

“Now I work on my technique still. You always can improve yourself,” he said. “It’s simple but it’s really complicated. Every stroke, everything has to be right.”

Downarowicz said he usually plays with his wife, grinning as he admits she can usually get the better of him on the court.

“It’s something we can do anytime, sometimes just for a half an hour,” he said.

Shane Iadarola won the Men’s 35 Singles division while Bin Wu topped the field for Men’s 45 Singles. David Fairbotham and Tim Hopper took the Men’s 45 Doubles crown while Ruthanne Carroll and Jance Holloway won Women’s 45 Doubles. Robert Bettauer finished first in Men’s 55 Singles, with Darlene Dorman atop the Women’s 55 Singles division. The Men’s 65 Singles division was won by Roger Skillings, while Jean Martin took top spot in Women’s 65 Singles. Valeska Campbell and Toni Lee Kasprow were the Women’s 55 Doubles champions.

Tony Mears won the Men’s 70 Singles title, with Sybella Garvin winning Women’s 5.0 Singles, Tracy Antonacci and Rachelle McGregor winning Women’s 5.0 Doubles and Natalia Saavedra claiming the title for Women’s 4.0 Singles. Nick Lowe finished first in Men’s 4.0 Singles and Levent Batur was the Men’s 3.0 Singles champion. Ally Feng and May Leong took the crown for Women’s 4.0 Doubles, with Nancy Norris winning Women’s 3.0 Singles.