Players and spectators enjoyed world class tennis at its finest at the Choice Wireless VI Open Tennis Tournament, hosted Feb. 17-20 at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. A near record 108 tennis players from the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, United States and New Zealand – which included 3 ATP-ranked, 4 nationally-ranked and a strong contingent of B division competitors – earned this tournament a reputation as the ‘Wimbledon of the Caribbean.’
Top-seeded and Men’s Open Singles defending champion Nick Monroe of Austin, Texas, suffered an ankle injury three days before the tournament, which took him out of the competition. However, Monroe’s doubles partner Artem Sitak, 25, not only flew in from New Zealand, but won the coveted Men’s Open Singles title (6-4, 6-2) against Maciek Sykut, 25, of Marathon, Florida, who played last year and bettered his placing by making the finals.
“Being solid from the baseline, serving big and waiting for my chances and taking them on the serve paid off,” said Sitak, a member of New Zealand’s Davis Cup Team, about the strategy behind his win.
Sitak and Sykut then teamed up and won the Men’s Open Doubles (6-2, 6-4), over two-time Men’s Open Singles winner, Will Boe Wieggard, of Easton, Connecticut, and Malcolm Harrison, of Kansas City, Missouri, who played for his first time in the Virgin Islands.
The competition was also keen in the B division. St. Thomas’ Rudolph Chapman proved his prowess in Men’s B Singles by winning this division, beating the British Virgin Islands’ Mark McDonald in exciting play that came down to a tie-breaker (1-6, 6-4, 1-0(7). “I found my way in the second set, progressed, and then eventually pulled my way out,” said Chapman.
In Women’s B Singles, it was McDonald’s wife, Rachael McDonald, who triumphed over St. Thomas’ Kathleen Hosie (6-4, 6-0). “Last year I played, enjoyed it, but lost in the first round,” said McDonald. “This year, I tried harder and got further.”
The Maryland-based team of Dion Williams and Jonathan Vissering won the Men’s B Doubles (6-3, 6-1), beating this division’s defending champions, St. Thomas’ Chapman and Darryl Donovan Sr.
“Focus,” is what Williams credits to the team’s success, while Vissering adds that it was “staying cool and keeping the ball in play.”
It was last year’s runners up, Maryland’s Darlene Queen and St. Thomas’ Shirley Peters who triumphed to win in Women’s B Doubles (6-1, 6-2) over last year’s champs, the Philadelphia-based team of Michelle Avery and Constance Foreman. “We just decided to hit the ball,” said Peters. “No lobs, because the other team was pretty good at hitting those, and keep it low. We worked our plan and our plan worked.”
In Mixed B Doubles, it was the husband-and-wife team of Dao and Jonathan Vissering who defeated Erik Jensen and Darlene Queen (6-4, 6-4). Finally, in Men’s 60 Doubles, it was St. Croix’s Stan Myrie-G and St. Thomas’ Louis Taylor, who won (6-4, 6-3) over the St. Thomas team of Mabubiyah Richards and George Sledge. “I think we were steadier and more consistent,” said Myrie-G. “It was a good fun match.”
Over $13,000 in prize money was awarded in addition to engraved pewter plates.
Matches were officiated by USTA and International Tennis Federation head referee, Hector Figueroa, from Puerto Rico. Carlos Juarbe and Julio Colon served as USTA umpires; both have officiated at the U.S. Open. The Choice Wireless VI Open Tennis Tournament is the only tennis tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands sanctioned by the USTA’s Caribbean District.
“Congratulations to all the winners and participants,” said Tony Shepherd, CEO and general manager of Choice Wireless. “Choice Wireless is happy to be a part of bringing world-class tennis to the Virgin Islands and we look forward to next year.”
The Choice Wireless VI Open Tennis Tournament is sponsored by Choice Wireless, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, St. Thomas Yacht Club, Sugar Bay Beach Resort & Spa and Caribbean Auto Group.
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