Champ likely to return to Ballina
By STEVE SPINKS
FOUR-TIMES champion of the Ballina Bowling Club New Year Tennis Open, Grant Silcock, should be back to defend the title he won last year when the tournament gets under way on Thursday, January 13.
Organiser of the event, John Whitty, is still waiting for confirmation from the Queenslander, but he expects Silcock to contest the Open again.
The 29-year-old has a terrific record in Ballina, winning the event in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
He is now based in the Netherlands and has been ranked as high as No500 in the world in singles and No 85 in doubles.
Silcock retired from the full-time professional circuit in 2002 and now makes a living playing tournaments similar to the Ballina event around France and the Netherlands.
He has played at Wimbledon and in the US Open against Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin, but one of his greatest moments in tennis was winning an ATP doubles tournament in Hong Kong.
Their final opponents, Andre Agassi and Dave Wheaton, withdrew because Agassi was injur-ed.
The man he defeated in the Ballina final last year, Mark Way, should also be available.
Way is originally from Alstonville but now spends his time coaching full-time in Brisbane.
Chris Letcher, a semi-finalist last year, should also be competing.
There will again be $1000 up for grabs in the men's open singles.
Plenty of local hopes will play, with young Lismore strokemaker Nick Hew possibly the best chance of an upset.
In the women's section, 2004 winner Marinet Morgan of Brisbane looks likely to line up again, as will Ballina girl Shae Whitty, who was the runner-up.
Nominations will close tomorrow and Whitty reminded locals that the event was not just for the top players.
"I'd like to encourage all the locals to participate in either B-grade or A-reserve," he said.
Inquiries to John Whitty, phone 66866532.