FORMER world-ranked professional Beti Sekulovski entered the Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Open Tournament to play mixed doubles.
The 24-year-old Reservoir coach left yesterday with the women's singles crown . . . and a heavily-iced right knee.
"I thought I'd see how I'd go," Sekulovski explained of the singles after-thought following her 6-4, 6-2 victory against East Bentleigh teenager Genevieve Lorbergs.
"I had loads of friends coming down and thought it would be good to play mixed doubles with my former coach's son (Brett Demp-ster).
"I haven't played competitively for a couple of years now. I've had two (right) knee surgeries. I don't have any cartilage in my knee."
Sekulovski played professional tennis for six years, reaching a high of 270 in singles and 120 in doubles, before injury forced her premature retirement.
She is reinventing herself as a coach at Boroondara Tennis Centre, Bulleen, and wants to add some study to her work commitments.
Despite the lengthy training and playing void, Sekulovski showed she had lost none of her court touch by toppling number one seed Olivia Rich on her way to the final.
She gained the important service break in a tight first set against Lorbergs, then broke again in the first game of the second set to ease away from her younger rival.
"In the second set I won a couple of important points and got away with it," Sekulovski said.
"She has a big serve. I just tried to get the ball back as deep as possible. I served pretty well.
"I didn't hit too many second serves. I think that helps build the pressure."
Sekulovski said her professional tournament experience helped on big points and playing on grass eased the physical demands due to shorter points.
She said her only previous appearance in the Labour Day tournament was in mixed doubles as a teenager.
A two-year coaching stint at the British Lawn Tennis Association was the perfect preparation for the winner of the men's open final yesterday.
Anthony Hampson of Grace Park defeated Tim Verlin from Lilydale in straight sets 6-2, 7-6.
Hampson first won the Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Open in 2004 and was runner-up the following year.
He has spent the past two years in the UK during which he joined a private coaching academy tour and was a coach for players on the European circuit.
Hampson breezed through the semi-finals beating Geelong's Matt Hicks in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Verlin overcame Warrnambool's Matt Maloney in the semi-finals 6-4, 6-4 before going down in the main match.