Fleck recovers from shaky start, defends Citizen Open title

As 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 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 double-faulted all the time and from then on it was just him.
"He's a great player. It's always tough to 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 in 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.

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