ALBURY EASTER TOURNAMENT: The locals again turn it into their two-man show

THE Albury Easter tournament has served up a blockbuster rematch of last year’s singles finals for today’s action at the Albury Grasscourts.

Albury aces Mark Shanahan and Jade Culph will again go head-to-head for the title of men’s singles champion of the Border’s biggest tennis prize.

In last year’s match-up, Shanahan halted a golden run by Culph, who had won the Margaret Court Cup, Victorian Grasscourt Championships and the Victorian Country Championships. He defeated him 7-6 6-4.

Shanahan downed Sydney’s Rio Kuharski 6-3 6-4 to reach today’s final, while Culph took three sets to best another Sydneysider, James Palmer, 6-7 7-5 6-0.

Another local, the defending champion Alison Tinworth, was knocked out of the women’s semi-final by Sydney’s Sonja Balic who won 6-1 6-4.

Balic will face Brooke Winley, from Wollongong, who defeated Georgia Dobel of Sydney 7-6 0-6 6-4.

Tournament director Dom Mahaffey said it had been a busy event.

“There hasn’t been much time for sleep,” he said.

“We’ve had 300 players which is excellent — double last year’s entries.

“You don’t get to see much (behind the scenes) but it’s been a really good standard of tennis.

“I saw a bit of Jade’s match and he was down 5-2 in the second set but fought back.

“I saw a bit of his game towards the end and he looked really strong — certainly in the last set he was looking totally in control.

“We’ve got two locals in the final so it’s excellent.”

Mahaffey said a bit of local knowledge had worked for the Albury favourites.

“I think it’s being brought up on grass,” Mahaffey said.

“There’s more local knowledge, and the locals are more attuned to the conditions.”

Mahaffey said the Albury Easter Open’s 100th anniversary dinner at the Commercial Club was also a success.

“By all reports, the dinner was really good and about 160 attended which was great,” he said.

“They’re good numbers and we were really happy.”

Also being played today will be the tournament’s doubles finals.

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