Hallam’s Sam Dowler won a long-awaited maiden Cobram Labour Day men’s open singles crown yesterday and denied Ashleigh Janke a fourth at the same time.By Marc McGowan
Hallam’s Sam Dowler won a long-awaited maiden Cobram Labour Day men’s open singles crown yesterday and denied Ashleigh Janke a fourth at the same time.
The final promised to be a good one, with baseliner Dowler — runner-up to Ryan Thomas last year — pitted against Janke, who rushes the net at every opportunity.
But Frankston’s Janke, playing for the first time since claiming the third of his hat-trick of Cobram titles two years ago, never got going.
Top seed Dowler, 24, won the first four games of the match and went on to record a 6-2, 6-2 triumph on his fifth attempt at winning the tournament.
‘‘I’ve wanted this one for a while,’’ Dowler said.
‘‘Last year (at Cobram) was the first final I’ve ever played, so I was very nervous and ‘Thomo’ played unreal and I couldn’t do anything to stop him. I had nothing to lose this year.
‘‘Worst case I was going to come out with the same result. I wasn’t going to be embarrassed again, but it did help (playing last year), because I was able to approach it differently.’’
It was a disappointing result for Janke, who almost exited in the quarter-finals, when he trailed Cobram’s Nick Fenaughty 1-5 in the first set and 2-4 in the second before winning 7-5, 7-5.
Janke trained for just three weeks for his comeback and did not serve in the week leading up due to a right shoulder problem.
The injury flared on Sunday night and he repeatedly clutched his shoulder in his doubles semi-final before the singles decider.
Janke’s volleying remained a wonderful sight, but he regularly sprayed shots on his forehand and backhand and his serve was not the dominant feature it was in his three wins en route to the final.
The strongly built Dowler used his superior match conditioning to great effect, elongating the rallies and winning them more often than not.
Janke seemed to find his range at the end of the opening set and his intensity visibly increased, but he rarely avoided pressure on serve.
The 21-year-old crushed an off-forehand winner to go 2-1 ahead in the second set after facing consecutive break points in a game where his full repertoire of shots was on show.
Dowler’s response was to hold serve to love, including a rare foray to the net behind a serve to put away a volley.
Janke then slipped 15-40 behind for the second straight service game and there was no escape this time — Dowler ripping a cross-court forehand passing shot for a winner to snatch the break.
Janke failed to win another game, with Dowler, a self-confessed nervous finisher, upping the ante.
He served the match out, finishing with an exclamation-point forehand winner down the line.
Dowler, who thanked his coach Adrian Muscillo, said the plan was to back his natural game of making Janke play as many balls as possible.
‘‘He’s beaten me the last couple of times, but I knew I was a lot better prepared and I had been hitting well lately,’’ he said.
‘‘The (grass) surface suits him a lot better than me, but I feel like I played a lot more aggressive than I often do, so I was able to neutralise his advantages and stay on top of him.’’
Janke, who later won the men’s open doubles with Harley Pearson, said Dowler was too good on the day.
‘‘I couldn’t get going. I was a bit sore in my shoulder and it just seemed to hamper me and he’s a lot more match fit than me, so he had me from the get-go,’’ Janke said.
‘‘He got too many balls back and outplayed me.’’
Janke said he became sick of tennis from his experience on the European Futures circuit before his last Cobram title, but would be back for another tilt next year.
Dowler also confirmed he would return to defend his championship.
A Tamleugh North farmer has described the theft of four sheep fences from his tornado-damaged property ''a low act''.
Most people at the J C Lowe Oval left on Saturday evening talking about the game but not the result. Pigeon Coach Chris Kennedy summed up the feeling adequately when he said after the game; “it was a frustrating game, but my players weren’t responsible for the frustration.”
The move to extend the Tatura War Memorial area and honour Victoria Cross hero Robert Mactier with the erection of a statue in the Hogan St gardens named in his honour, continues.
A Kyabram man who struck a cyclist on Echuca-Moama bridge with a beer can thrown from the vehicle he was in was convicted and fined $400 in Moama Local Court on Wednesday.
A Rochester mother told a health forum about the devastating effect drugs have had on her family.
Over six hours of junior football is scheduled for Kyabram Recreation Reserve this Sunday.
Ten people were injured after Two Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) collided during a training course at the Puckapunyal Military Training Range in on Wednesday, May 22.
The Finley Apex Sports and Community Centre has secured a $500,000 grant from Regional Development Australia.
A purpose-built bike, equipped with amateur radio, will be on the O'Keefe Rail Trail tomorrow.
Cobram residents John Anderson and Ian Cobb will race down memory lane this weekend when they compete in the annual Historic Winton.
Deniliquin Fire and Rescue's open day has been hailed a success by captain Bill Muirhead.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) is investigating incidents of abortion or still-births under the Lamb and Kid Mortality Surveillance Project.(LKSMP).
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