Championship season is upon us, and tennis will once again be providing fans with the first banner moments of the year. It was a clean sweep for the Western Mustangs just one year ago, as the London-based school took home the hardware on both the men's and women's sides, but six other schools will be looking to take home the crown this time around in what is shaping up to be an intriguing tennis championship.
The OUA tennis elite will converge in our provincial capital this weekend, as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues will serve as hosts for the 2017 edition. Play will take place at Mayfair Parkway Racquet Club in Markham, from Friday, October 6 to Sunday, October 8, as the fields will be narrowed down from seven to one over the course of the week.
The hosts from UofT will get the festivities started with the first matches of the event, as the 3rd-ranked women's team will battle the 6th-ranked Badgers. Leading the charge for the Varsity Blues' women's side is OUA Rookie of the Year hopeful Mara Stroe (Ajax, ON), who went undefeated in singles action this year. The first year Business student also tacked on a 3-1 record in doubles, proving to be a versatile weapon for the host team. On the other side of the net, the Brock women's team will bring a crew to the courts for their first OUA tennis championship in 20 years. Despite some tough losses this year, the Badgers will look to make a strong first impression back at the event after a couple decades away.
Entering as the number one seed and getting a first round bye, are the York Lions, who will bring their undefeated regular season record into the championship once again. Led by Eugenie Lim Ah Tock (Curepipe, Mauritius), the Lions will be primed to build on their silver medal results from 2015 and 2016. The 2014 OUA Rookie of the Year went undefeated in both single (5-0) and doubles (4-0) this season, with partner Sara Krupica (Toronto, ON), but the talent doesn't stop there. Krupica also went 4-1 in singles, while Isabella Baston (Toronto, ON) also maintained a clean record of 5-0 and 3-0 in singles and doubles, respectively.
Coming in at number two, and looking to repeat as champs, are the Western Mustangs, who will look for their purple reign to continue against the rebuilding McMaster squad. The 7th-seeded Marauders had almost a complete turnaround from last year's team and will be looking to score some valuable experience for their young players this weekend. They'll undoubtedly be in tough against the Mustangs, who scored a 5-0 win in their match-up with Mac just last weekend at the Stoney Creek Tennis Club. This convincing win, along with a 6-1 victory over Montreal during the final weekend of the OUA regular season has the Mustangs coming in on a high.
Rounding things out on the women's side will be a closely contested match-up between the fourth and fifth seeds – Montreal and Waterloo, respectively. The Carabins are just two years removed from their last OUA championship, and will be looking to serve up another winning formula this time around. The Warriors, meanwhile, will be led by 2016-17 OUA All-Star Nancy Baloescu. The Kitchener, ON native and 3rd year Psychology student has looked strong once again this year – her second on the varsity squad – and will play a key role in Waterloo's push for the banner.
Turning to the men's side, there is no shortage of talent, as any number of teams can come away with the title. Settling in as the top seed are the Carabins, who have notched high-profile wins already this season against fellow top seeds Western (4-3) and Toronto (4-3), respectively. They too will earn a bye to open the event, but will have no shortage of competition once they get underway on Saturday.
One such competitor (and another high seed) who are also just two years removed from an OUA banner, are the Varsity Blues, who enter play ranked number two. Coming off just their second loss of the season, the Varsity Blues will be looking to bounce back in fine form. Leading the charge will be Sasha Obucina (Etobicoke, ON), as the 2016 OUA All-Star went undefeated in both No. 1 singles and No. 1 and 2 doubles this year. Obucina, along with first-year transfer Felix Fan (Vancouver, B.C.) who also went undefeated on the season, and the rest of the skilled UofT squad will make them a tough match-up for newcomers Brock, who as the No. 7 seed, will have upset on their minds as they make their return to the championships.
The defending champion Mustangs, entering as the No. 3 seed, will start their quest for a repeat against the sixth-ranked Marauders. Western, who split their first matches of the season against Toronto and York, respectively, will be looking to build off of their strong recent play. Over the last few weekends, the Mustangs have tallied convincing wins of Waterloo (7-0), Brock (7-0), and McMaster (7-0) – something they'll look to repeat in their quarter final match. McMaster, meanwhile, will be relying on their captain and veteran Dominik Nowak (Mississauga, ON) to play a leading role once again. Nowak has been with the team for years and is a consistent competitor each time he hits the court, with Friday's opener against Western being no exception.
Not to be outdone, the fourth-ranked Waterloo Warriors also boast a potent attack, as they are led by a pair of former OUA rookies of the year. John Chan (Whistler, BC) and Eddie Wang (Toronto, ON) will bring plenty of experience to their opening round match against the Lions, as the co-captains have a combined eight years of experience on the squad. By taking on the Lions, the two teams will make it three straight years as quarter-final foes, with each team taking a match over that span. If York wants to topple the Warriors in the rubber match, they'll need to rely on the likes of Tre Eli, who boasts a 3-2 singles record, along with rookies Sahil Sareen (2-1 in singles) and Karan Negi (3-1 in singles).
The OUA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships will be a team format, with each match featuring six (6) singles players (plus alternate) and three (3) doubles teams. Players will be ranked from 1-6 in singles and 1-3 in doubles.
Each singles match will be a best two of three sets with no-ad scoring, with a 12 point tiebreaker to be played if the match is tied 6-6. Doubles matches will be eight game pro sets with regular ad-scoring with a 12 point tiebreaker should the match be tied 7-7. Doubles matches will be scheduled first, followed by singles matches.
Team matches will be worth up to seven points, with the winner being the first team to achieve four points. One (1) point will be awarded for the winner of doubles match (3-0 or 2-1), while each winner of a singles match will also earn one (1) point.
Following the completion of the tournament, six (6) male and six (6) female all-stars will be recognized, along with the presentation of gold, silver, and bronze medals.
To learn more about the event, check out the 2017 Tennis Championship Fan Guide.