Sport

Game, set, match for Crittenden in Country Championships

By Meg Saultry

Benalla tennis star Matt Crittenden played an integral part in Goulburn Valley’s recent win at the 64th Inter-Regional Country Championships, securing the men’s 35-49 doubles title with partner Luke Dixon in dominant fashion.

Crittenden played in three draws across the three-day event, held in Mildura earlier this month, including the men’s doubles, men’s singles, and mixed doubles. 

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In what was their first time playing together, Crittenden and Dixon took out the quarter-finals 6-3, before winning their semi-final in a close contest, 7-5.

The pair sealed the championship with a 6-2 win over Northern Mallee’s Dan Gardner and Warren Searle.

Crittenden said he was “very lucky” to have Dixon as a partner, with the duo going into the competition as the number one seeds.

“We got the early break of serve, which allowed us to be more aggressive on the return game,” Crittenden said.

“It set us up nicely for later in the match.”

In the men’s 35-49 singles tournament, Crittenden, unfortunately, bowed out of the main draw in the first round in a tense three-setter to Gardner (4-6, 6-2 10-8), but he made up for it by taking out the consolation draw. 

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“That first game was so hot and I ran out of legs,” Crittenden said.

“But (Gardner) played the points better in critical moments.

“He’s a grass court player and I like to stay on the baseline and play groundstrokes.

“He had a good net position, and I couldn’t get them past him.

“But after that first match, I was still playing good tennis.

“I was happy with my performance and it served me in good stead.

“It helped with my confidence level and the rest (consolation) went to plan.”

Crittenden’s schedule was rounded out with his mixed doubles commitments, partnering with Louise Dwyer. 

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While they won the first match on forfeit, they weren’t as fortunate moving forward, losing their next round in the main draw before dropping out in the first round of the consolation fixture.

By the end of the tournament, Goulburn Valley had finished in first place with 347 points, well ahead of second-placed Loddon Campaspe on 222.

Four-peat: The Goulburn Valley region won its fourth consecutive Inter-Regional Country Championships.

It marked Goulburn Valley's fourth consecutive title.

In a sign of its strength, Goulburn Murray also took home the Cooke Shield for the most improved region. 

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Crittenden, who plays in Shepparton’s Saturday competition, said Goulburn Valley's prowess at the tournament showed the standard of tennis in the region was high.

“I was quite surprised with how strong we were in comparison,” he said.

“But our local competition is really good.

“There was purple on every court, with someone from GV in almost every single final.”