GMLTA grand final preview

By Alex Mitchell

Numurkah will be searching for back-to-back flags when today's Goulburn Murray Lawn Tennis Association top-tier grand final kicks off.

At Shepparton Lawn, the Warriors will take on the Shepparton Lakers in a meeting of two powerful sides - and if this season's form is anything to go by, we should be in for a belter.

While the Lakers finished the regular season third - and needed to win two finals last weekend to progress to the decider - they did claim a narrow victory when the sides last met up, pinching a 61-59 win with the 10 sets split down the middle.

The Lakers have now won seven straight matches and Luke Dixon has certainly had a hand in that, entering the decider as GM1's best player, boasting league-leading records in singles (12-2) and doubles (23-6).

But Helene Steward has been near-untouchable all season for Numurkah, going 10-1 in singles and 19-3 in doubles to be her side's leading player.

The Warriors claimed the points by 24 games in round three, but the Lakers do boast a 2-1 head-to-head record this season after a 58-53 win in round eight.

Along with Steward, Mark Mills will be huge for Numurkah after going 3-0 last weekend, while Kate Durling is a Laker to watch after starring in her side's thrilling preliminary final win against the Shepparton Hornets.

GM2's decider will see warm favourite Shepparton Lions battle underdog Shepparton Saints.

The Lions smacked the Saints 77-36 in a semi-final last weekend in which the latter claimed just one of 11 sets, but after a preliminary final improvement saw them beat Numurkah by 14 games, the Saints will be ready to give it a red-hot crack.

Esma Corbic will be vital for the Lions after going 10-3 in singles and 22-3 in doubles this season, while Tanner Hunter (28-2 in doubles) and Viv New (26-6) have been doubles dynamos this season.

For the Saints, a big day from June Simpson (22-16 in doubles) would be handy as they look to deal with a talented opponent.

The GM2 Open grand final will be played between the Mooroopna Jets and Shepparton Pelicans in what is expected to be a close game, while the various GM3 fixtures are Tatura-LBU (west), Tatura-Nathalia (east) and Kyabram-Tongala (open).

●The GMLTA confirmed Thursday it would play its grand finals despite the coronavirus threat, announcing a string of measure to reduce the likelihood of any contamination.

The association has opted to split the grand finals between two venues; GM1, GM2 and GM2 Open will be played at Shepparton Lawn, while GM3 West, East and Open will be at Tatura Lawn.

Other measures include no shaking hands, limited indoor activity, doors being left open, available sanitiser and no shared afternoon tea.