AUS F5 - Dayne Kelly - singles champion with Matt Barlow (Tournament Director)
Dayne Kelly won his first ever ITF Pro Circuit title by claiming the inaugural Northern Territory Tennis International tournament held in Darwin, Australia last week.
The final of this tournament, proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government, saw Kelly up against Britain’s Jamie Baker, who was seeded 7th, having never previously advanced past the singles quarterfinal stage of an ITF Pro Circuit tournament. Despite taking on a higher ranked opponent, one who has also had the honour of representing his country in Davis Cup, Kelly started strongly with two early breaks and quickly found himself with a 51 first set lead. Baker slowly started to come to terms with the dynamic Kelly lefty serve and found his rhythm and confidence in the latter half of the set, breaking back twice only to drop serve again, this time to love, at 45, to hand the first set to Kelly 64.
Kelly's blistering groundstrokes were only rivalled by the extreme heat in Australia's most northern capital city. Try as he might, Baker could not repel the intensity of Kelly and the tough three set semi final win over Australia's Matt Ebden seemed to work against the Scottish player.
In the second set, Kelly again secured an early break and looked to have his first title locked away when he raced into a 41 lead, but Baker was not about to crumble and began to mount a comeback. Serving for the match at 53, Kelly stumbled. The first point saw Baker rip an amazing crosscourt backhand winner from 15 feet behind the baseline at full stretch. He followed this with three more stunning points to give himself the chance to put the set back on level terms.
Rather than letting the sensation of having his first title ripped from his grasp overwhelm him, Kelly steadied himself for one last onslaught. In the very next game Kelly launched a barrage of stinging groundstrokes that swept him to a 64 64 victory that saw him crowned the inaugural Northern Territory International Champion. Baker, generous in defeat, praised his opponent for his play who had been in strong form all week with victories including a comprehensive win over top seed John Millman 61 64 in the semis.
Earlier in the week the doubles title was won by second seeds Matt Ebden and Sadik Kadir over Jamie Baker and Dane Propoggia, the fourth seeds, 64 75.
Such is the resurgence of the interest in the sport in this region that Darwin will host another ITF Pro Circuit event this week, which is sure to be another stunning success.