Fleck re­cov­ers from shaky start, de­fends Cit­i­zen Open ti­tle

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff

Prince Ge­orge Cit­i­zen Open sin­gles cham­pion Cory Fleck be­came the first ten­nis player to get his name en­graved twice on the Matt Al­tizer Me­mo­rial Cup.

But not with­out suf­fer­ing some pun­ish­ment on the court Sun­day af­ter­noon at Prince Ge­orge Ten­nis Club handed out by Thomas Tan­nert, who came up one game away from elim­i­nat­ing Fleck in the third set of their ad­vanced sin­gles fi­nal.

Tan­nert re­cov­ered from an open­ing-set 6-1 loss and got in the groove with a 6-4 win in the sec­ond set.

Fleck, who was vir­tu­ally flaw­less in win­ning the club’s Spring Fling tour­na­ment a month ago,was his own worst en­emy at times, dou­ble-fault­ing on serves and hit­ting what looked to be routine re­turns into the net.

By the time he re­cov­ered, Tan­nert had built up a 5-2 lead in the de­ci­sive third set. That was Fleck’s cue to settle down and start liv­ing up to his ca­pa­bil­i­ties. He got his first serves work­ing for him again and reeled off five straight game wins to take the ti­tle.

“After the first set I was think­ing maybe I can cruise through this in the heat and he came back and I think I got a lit­tle over­con­fi­dent and got a lit­tle ten­ta­tive in the sec­ond set,” said the 27-year-old Fleck.

“He was just getting ev­ery­thing back and it made it a good match. He did hit a few good win­ners but probably 80 per cent of the points I lost were my own do­ing.

“I was a lit­tle frus­trated at the end of the sec­ond set and you could tell at the be­gin­ning of the third set.

“But I’ve played a lot of three-set matches and it’s just kind of getting a hold of your emo­tions again and rein­ing it back and be­ing able to trans­late that into play­ing your game in­stead of be­ing dic­tated on. That felt pretty good, com­ing back from that with five straight games. That was probably one of the high­lights for the last three years for my ten­nis ca­reer.”

They were tied 5-5 in the third set and Tan­nert was fac­ing break point when he sent a lob deep into Fleck’s court.

Think­ing the ball was go­ing long, Tan­nert turned his back, fig­ur­ing he’d lost the game, but the ball landed eight inches shy of the line and Fleck put the re­turn back into the open court for game point with Tan­nert still look­ing the op­po­site way.

Fleck then fin­ished the match on serve in the next game.

Tan­nert, 45, played fre­quently in his na­tive Eise­nach, Ger­many (the home of com­poser Johannes Se­bas­tian Bach) be­fore im­mi­grat­ing to Canada in 2000.

But ten­nis took a back seat for the father of three for a cou­ple decades while he be­gan a new ca­reer that took him to Chile and Van­cou­ver be­fore he re­set­tled his

I was a lit­tle frus­trated at the end of the sec­ond set and you could tell at the be­gin­ning of the third set. But I‘ve played a lot of three-set matches and it’s just kind of getting hold of your emo­tions and and rein­ing it back...

fam­ily in Prince Ge­orge three years ago to take a job at UNBC as a wood en­gi­neer­ing in­struc­tor. He’s put more work into his ten­nis game over the past year and proved that with his re­sults in the week­end tour­na­ment.

Fleck ad­vanced to the fi­nal with a straight-set 6-1, 6-1 semi­fi­nal win over 2018 fi­nal­ist Shawn He­gan. In the other semi­fi­nal, Tan­nert needed a tiebreaker to elim­i­nate Jim Con­don 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (8) and he knew it would take a colossal up­set to de­feat Fleck.

“I’ve played him a cou­ple times be­fore and he beat me pretty eas­ily so my goal in the match was to make him work for it,” said Tan­nert. “In the sec­ond set I was down 3-4 and I just wanted him to make him to have to work for it and I think he started to get a lit­tle nervous and I man­aged to win the sec­ond set.

“Then in the third set, the first three games all went to mul­ti­ple deuces, back and forth, and I was up a break and I thought well this is al­most too good to be true when I was up 5-2. But he was getting back into the game, he calmed down and was hit­ting his shots. At 5-3 I thought this is my chance, I have to win it, and I froze and dou­ble­faulted all the time and from then on it was just him.

“He’s a great player. It’s al­ways tough to have close matches but bet­ter to lose this way than to be played off the court.”

The Al­tizer tro­phy has been awarded to the Open ad­vanced sin­gles cham­pion since 2014, named in hon­our of Matt, the former Cit­i­zen IT man­ager, who died along with his wife, son, daugh­ter and sis­ter in a high­way ac­ci­dent Fe­bru­ary 2012 near McLeese Lake while on a trip to watch the Davis Cup pro ten­nis tour­na­ment in Van­cou­ver.

In other re­sults, Steve Laing de­feated Fara Kashanchi 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in the ad­vanced singes con­so­la­tion fi­nal. In the in­ter­me­di­ate sin­gles fi­nal, An­drew Ol­son topped Rob Yliru­usi 6-1, 6-1.

Fleck also shared in the ad­vanced dou­bles ti­tle with Les Obst and Phil Red­ding.

Fleck took over for Red­ding when he suf­fered a torn calf mus­cle in their open­ing match of the round robin Satur­day morn­ing.

— Corey Fleck, Cit­i­zen open champ

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

Cory Fleck, above, who took the cham­pi­onship for the sec­ond time, makes a fore­hand re­turn on Satur­day morn­ing at the Prince Ge­orge Ten­nis and Pick­le­ball Club while tak­ing on Rick Da­vore in an Ad­vanced Men’s Sin­gles round-robin match of the Prince Ge­orge Cit­i­zen Open ten­nis tour­na­ment. Cory Fleck, left, and Thomas Tan­nert, below, pose for a photo after their match on Sun­day af­ter­noon at the Prince Ge­orge Ten­nis and Pick­le­ball Club. Fleck de­feated Tan­nert to claim the Men’s Open Sin­gles ti­tle of the Prince Ge­orge Cit­i­zen Open ten­nis tour­na­ment and is the first back-to-back win­ner since the tro­phy’s in­cep­tion in 2014.

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