TOP Warrnambool tennis player Matt Moloney is the sole home-town hopeful left in the Warrnambool Grasscourt Open singles draw.
Moloney, 28, was last night celebrating wins against top seed George Shepheard and fifth seed Ryan Draffin in the Open’s Australian Money Tournament men’s singles.
The respected coach needed two tie-breakers to get past Shepheard 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) on Saturday before accounting for Draffin 6-2, 7-6 (3) yesterday.
The results earned him a spot in the semi-finals where he faces a similarly tough test in the form of Anthony Zafiris today.
Zafiris beat third seed Yani Kimon Doumanis on Saturday, 6-1, 6-2 and Warrnambool qualfier Jake Dunn yesterday, 6-4, 7-5 en route to the semis.
The other men’s singles semi-final is between Aidan Fitzgerald and sixth seed Regan More. Both matches start at midday.
Moloney said he was hitting the ball better than expected, having entered the five-day tournament with little preparation.
The Open is just his third Tennis Australia points tournament for the year. The other two were in Bendigo in April and September.
“I’m pretty surprised with how well I’m playing,” he said. “I’m pretty sore after a couple of matches but I’m pretty happy overall. I’m used to the courts I’m playing on.
“Grass would be my favourite surface. I like using my slice backhand.
“It probably helps with my serve a bit too — there’s a couple more free points.”
Moloney is also still alive in the AMT men’s doubles, partnering Dunn. The pair are the eighth seeds in the competition.
They defeated Ryan Schwab and Samuel Ottosen in a quarter-final yesterday 6-1, 6-1 and will play Michael Ilett and Nicholas Jovanovski.
“I’ve played with Jake in a couple of tournaments. We usually do pretty well. We complement each other’s game,” Moloney said.
“He returns well and I like cutting a few volleys at the net. If he sets it up with that return, it helps a lot for me at the net.
“I don’t think he missed a return in his last match.”
While Moloney is the only Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Club survivor in the singles, the club has tasted more success in the doubles.
Harry Boyd and Toby Radford will take on top seeds Stefan Milenkovic and Thomas Pavlekovic-Smith in a 12 and under boys’ doubles semi-final.
Danielle Warren and Eloise Swarbrick will meet Mary Jayakody and Alexandra San Andres in a 12 and under girls’ doubles semi-final.
The club also had pairs playing in the 14 and under mixed doubles quarter-finals when The Standard went to print.