Players fire up for scorcher

A regional tennis squad will attempt to defy scorching heat and their country rivals in a state tournament this weekend.

South West, a region of Tennis Victoria, will send 33 players to the Victorian Country Inter-Regional Championships at Swan Hill Lawn Tennis Club.

The championships run from tomorrow to Sunday and players will battle temperatures above 40 degrees for the three days.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted the mercury will reach 43 degrees in the Murray River city tomorrow, climbing to 45 on Saturday and hitting 42 on Sunday.

South West team manager Rob Brian said the larger-than-required squad — the minimum is 28 — would help players deal with the northern Victorian heatwave.

Squad members will contest knockout singles, doubles and mixed doubles, earning points for their region in the process.

The age sections are 12, 14, 16, 18 and 22 and under, open and veterans, with two males and two females representing each region in each section.

“In some of the groups we’ve taken a third person and shared the event a little more,” Brian said.

“The weather looks like being fairly warm. People prefer to play two events instead of three.”

Brian said South West would have a strong chance of taking out the overall honours, having been “in the top three or four regions in the last 12 or 15 years”.

But Barwon, Loddon Campaspe and Mornington Peninsula will start favourites due to their bigger population bases and strong tennis history.

Brian offered “team spirit” and players prioritising inter-regionals as the reason South West punched above its weight on the state stage.

“People enjoy the event and they look forward to the event every year,” he said. 

“Pretty much all of our best players make themselves available for it, it does help. 

“With 33 players, we’ve got 40 or 50 parents and onlookers. It’s a good team, a big group,” he said.

“As well as the tennis it’s a good social weekend.”

Matt Moloney, a former singles winner at inter-regionals, and Sarah O’Keeffe are South West’s leading hopes in the open section.

Sam Pritchard, in the 22 and under section, is in good form and James Tobin has claims in the 18 and under section.

Danielle Warren enters the tournament on the back of her win in the 10 and under girls’ doubles at the Warrnambool Junior Grasscourt Open on Monday.

“And Zac Urquhart and Sophie Drake would be strong contenders in their age groups, and Harry Boyd in the 12s,” Brian said.

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