Goulburn tastes the joys of summer

January 09, 2018

Backing it up: After a drought-breaking victory at last year's Inter-regional Country Championships, the Goulburn Region collected the trophy for the second year in a row.

Breaking a 57-year drought was sweet.

But going back-to-back at the Inter-regional Country Championships in Wodonga on Sunday was even sweeter for the Goulburn region.

Goulburn’s tennis stars again were too strong for Barwon, leaving the coastal region without a win, despite its recent dominance.

Heather Lees, who has been the region’s long-serving co-ordinator, was rapt to secure the side’s second win in a row to continue the elation of last summer.

‘‘We’re over the moon, we dared to dream and hoped that we could pull it off, it’s just fantastic,’’ she said.

‘‘It was a hot weekend and it was a long weekend, but it was great and we got good reward.’’

Not only has the Goulburn region side broken its drought, but it has won back-to-back titles for the first time since 1959-60.

While winning is always the first aim, Lees knows how to manage the group to create the best opportunity for success.

‘‘They (the players) were beside themselves, half the team have been committed over the years and for the other half it’s the first or second time, so it’s great,’’ Lees said.

‘‘When you get to the finals on the last day is when the big points get allocated.

‘‘(On the final day) they put out a running total and we looked out on the courts and we had more people on the courts than Barwon did, so we were starting to feel a bit more confident.’’

But to retain the trophy and sit atop of the table 21 points ahead of Barwon, participation as well as performing exceptionally in the finals was essential.

Nick Gattuso defeated Goulburn teammate James Curtis-McDonald in the men’s 25-and-under singles competition, while senior players David Starling and Helene Steward claimed the singles titles in the 35 to 49 age group.

The team’s experienced players led the way for the side with Bruce Ferguson, Leanne Moore, Sharon Clement, Damian Smith and Andrew Clement all dominating in the 50-plus age group.

Plenty of success was had by the juniors too as Fraser Bennett, Alanna Birch and Zach Ranson all scored plenty of points for those in the purple shirts.

But with contributions coming from all members of the 33-strong squad, Starling only had high praise for the efforts of players, including Curtis-McDonald, who put the team first.

‘‘James Curtis-McDonald made three finals, he didn’t win one, but he busted his gut for his team all weekend and we expect nothing less and he gives nothing less, he was amazing all weekend, but he just wasn’t able to get the actual win,’’ he said.

While Goulburn secured the underdog victory last summer, Starling knows his side is one to chase following two straight wins.

‘‘It’s going to get harder because I was talking to some of the other guys from some of the other regions and they’re all starting to look at us like ‘if these guys can do it, why can’t we adopt their approach?’,’’ he said.

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