In a match that will be remembered in Gunnedah tennis folklore, 17-year-old Cooper Wilkinson fought his way back from a set down to defeat 2020 champion, Aaron Osmond 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

While there was a cloud hanging over whether the club championships would actually take place and numerous postponements, Wilkinson was prepared for whatever date was confirmed by Gunnedah Tennis Club (GTC). 

Due to lockdowns across the state, this was the first competitive tournament available for each entrant for quite some time. Despite match fitness being an issue for many, Wilkinson wasn’t discouraged, keeping up with his regular practice sessions each week.

Following his three-set victory, Wilkinson spoke to the Gunnedah Times about the match.

“The championships were the first few matches back in about 10 weeks,” Wilkinson said.

“I’m pretty happy with the way I played considering I haven’t had much match practice.

“Without being able to play in matches, I’ve just resorted to my training sessions and organising practice sets with Aaron and a couple other guys at the club.”

After losing the first set 6-2, Wilkinson spoke about the changes he made to mount a comeback against one of the North West’s best talents in Osmond.

“I just had to figure out what I was doing wrong but also understanding why Aaron was doing so well,” Wilkinson said.

“My ground strokes improved – they were a lot smoother than in the first set, there was enough time left and after winning the first game of the second, I knew I could get the win.”

The second set saw the momentum shift with the wind playing a key part in the flow of the match. Both players had their chances, Osmond coming close to breaking Wilkinson but losing 6-4, taking the match to the final set.

Despite the score reading 6-1 in the third, it was much closer than it appeared.

Outgoing GTC president Robert White, who was the umpire for the match, explained the edge Cooper was able to build to win.

“He put a lot of pressure on Aaron in the last set, but I was gobsmacked at the speed and power of the players,” White said.

“Cooper just grew another pair of legs, he was a deserving winner. It was just one of those games where fatigue played a factor.

“The standard of tennis in Gunnedah was superb in all divisions, it was exactly what we were anticipating.”

Although Osmond was unable to defend his singles title from last year, he did manage to reclaim the doubles and mixed championships, paired with his brother Andrew and Isabell Moore in the respective formats.

Meanwhile, Lucas Sardinha came out on top in the division two singles and doubles championships. He coasted to victory, beating Tom Jerry 6-1, 6-1 in the final of the singles before coming from a set down in the doubles, to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 with Blake Lynch.

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