Cory Fleck and Shawn Hegan tried to beat the weather but knew they were asking for trouble trying to play their A-division singles championship match Sunday afternoon on the rain-soaked hardcourt at Prince George Tennis Club.
After a two hour-delay to let the court dry, Fleck won 6-3, 6-2 and claimed the Matt Altizer Memorial Trophy.
Fleck's big serve proved the difference. Hegan had trouble getting his returns in the court and as a result the games with Fleck holding serve wrapped up quickly. Long rallies were as rare as sunbeams during the match.
"I don't think I've had a double fault since the first couple games," said the 26-year-old Fleck. "Since Saturday afternoon I don't think I missed a serve. I'm going to say that now and it's going to come back to haunt me."
Fleck, the PGTC coach, was leading the second set 3-1 about too serve when the skies opened up, forcing them off the court. The top-seeded Fleck drew a bye into the final after defeating Thomas Tannert 8-5, and Shawn Jennings of Quesnel 8-1. Fleck warmed up for the final by playing an exhibition match Sunday morning against Jenna Hatemleh of Fort St. James, a former junior Australian Open player from Jordan.
Fleck broke Hegan's serve twice in the second set and was about to serve the third game when the skies opened up.
"I've played against Cory before and that's not my best returning I could be doing, you just have to get it in," said Hegan. "We both kind of hit pretty hard when we're doing groundstrokes so I think it's just a matter of who misses. My returning inconsistency hurt. He's so strong, but that's how you get better, playing better people, so that will help me improve my game."
Eleven players entered the A-event. Hegan, 24, swept Darren Smit in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, in their semifinal match Sunday morning. Hegan opened with an 8-5 win in the preliminaries over Rick Devore and also dispatched Martin Pudlas 8-1. Tannert defeated Devore 6-1, 6-3 in the singles consolation final.
In the open doubles tournament, Fleck and Susie Walker went undefeated in three matches.
This year for the first time, the club's pickleball players were part of the Citizen Open and players competed in three doubles draws - open, intermediate and mixed. Phil Redding teamed up with Meryl Gordon of Summerland to win the five-team open division, while Bill Quinn and James Kopp captured the six-team intermediate title. The mixed division tournament, which drew five teams, was delayed by rain and will be played starting at 6 p.m. on Monday.
Twenty-five players competed in the combined tennis/pickleball event.
"It was great having everyone together for the social aspect," said Fleck. "Everyone gets to mingle, it's not so segregated and we had the barbecue and the two groups get to fraternize and break some of the cliques. I'm really excited that everyone's playing together."
Tournament organizers said they will try to schedule next year's tournament so it doesn't conflict with the Stanley Park Open in Vancouver, which drew away a few of Prince George's top tennis players. The club also plans to schedule the 2019 Citizen Open on a different weekend than the Prince George Cougars Alumni Hospital Charity golf tournament. The high-profile golf fundraiser for Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation filled the parking lot of the adjacent Prince George Golf and Curling Club, forcing some of the tennis/pickleball players to park at the Prince George Playhouse lot, which was also near capacity over the weekend during the Legally Blonde matinee performances.
n At the Stanley Park Open, Kristian Kiland of Prince George was eliminated from the men's open singles tournament on Wednesday, losing 6-1, 6-1 to Riaan Dutoit of Abbotsford. Kiland and his brother, Jim Condon, lost in second round of the open men's doubles event, 6-0, 6-2, on Tuesday to the second-seeded Dutoit/Alexander Day of Vancouver. Day was the men's open top seed and he advanced to the men's singles final against second-seeded Philip Bester of North Vancouver. In the 4.5 mixed doubles event first round, Condon and his mom, Nancy Condon were swept in straight sets in the opening round, losing 6-2, 6-0 to Tony Giroux/Alexandra Sigouin.