While the attention at the beginning of the tournament was centred on Claude LeBlanc as it was his last PLMT after this year, the focus began to shift in the 2nd week as this year was Grant Gibson’s 10th year participating in the tournament. During his illustrious 10-years in the tournament, he had played in six championship finals, and against five different opponents. On Monday, Grant looked to capture his tournament leading fourth title, and 2nd in consecutive years. Standing in his way was newcomer and #9 seed, a late replacement in the tournament in Tarek Samhan.
In the opening set, Grant’s trademark serve and volley was on full display as he would place the serve high towards Tarek’s backhand, resulting in a strong backhand volley deep along the baseline. Tarek did not have many answers in the early going of the match. Many times on Tarek’s serve, Grant was content with sitting back along the baseline and engaging in long rallies, with untimely errors occurring by Tarek. Grant jumped out and won the first set quickly, 6-0.
The 2nd set was much more even as Tarek began punishing Grant with a forehand so powerful, it appeared across the court like a blur. The forehand began going in more consistently, allowing for Tarek to start racking up winners. Grant would still break though and was leading 5-2 in the 2nd set. Tarek would hold in the 8th game to put the match on Grant’s serve. That’s when Tarek began pushing back, hitting two return of serves that Grant had no chance of retrieving. A break at love put the match back on serve at 4-5 on Tarek’s serve. Grant was not going to let the 2nd set slip away though. In the first point of the 10th game, he crushed a one-handed backhand as Tarek approached the net to make it 00-15. A timely volley from Tarek on the next point would level the game at 15-15. Then unfortunately Tarek committed an unforced error followed by a double fault to put the match at 15-40 with Grant staring at two championship points.
To give some context to the next point, I would take you back to 2016 where in his first championship win, Grant hit a pirouette half-volley to seal the championship. This final point eclipsed that. Tarek began the point by crushing a forehand down the line only for Grant to return it back and hit the tape. Tarek darted to the ball to hit an approach shot which Grant then attempted to lob over his head. Racing back, Tarek hit a jumping forehand which itself then hit the tape. Grant kept his composure and then hit a cross court drop shot which Tarek ran to retrieve only to hit the net just inches away from putting it down the line. An incredible rally to another incredible tournament by both competitors. For Grant, it was his fourth championship, defeating Tarek 6-0, 6-4.
While the Open Draw Championship provided drama, the Women’s Championship Final was also providing its own excitement as #1 Sheila Windle was competing against Jane Yang. Having missed out on winning the title in 2019 and 2021, Sheila was looking to add title #2 to her resume. While for Jane, she was looking to become the first unseeded woman to capture the title. Similar to the Open Draw Championship one player jumped out to a big lead as Sheila was extremely consistent, retrieving all shots from Jane and coming up with some well placed top spin lobs. She would take the first set 6-1.
Jane would strike back early in the 2nd set though with some well placed groundstrokes that Sheila was unable to retrieve and would break her serve and continue to lead 4-3 going into the 8th game on Jane’s serve. As has been custom in this year’s tournament, the next game saw multiple deuces and last upwards of 12 minutes. Eventually, Sheila found an opening and broke back, then held serve to make it 4-5 on Jane’s serve. Jane would try to fight back, even saving one championship point but it would not be enough on this evening as Sheila Windle would capture her 2nd PLMT title with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.
Winners for the raffle draw were also announced last night and I am still attempting to contact the winners to find out what they would like to take. A full list will be provided hopefully within the week.
This brings to an end the 2022 tournament. A tournament with sometimes hot and sometimes inclement weather but also with great action throughout the tournament. We saw new players emerge in quarter-final and semi-final play with Jacob Luckasavitch and Ryan Chan while also seeing others return to glory such as John Payette and Sophie Lefebvre. Truly this tournament had something for everyone. I would like to take this time to thank all of you, the participants, the spectators and the volunteers for all of your contributions to the tournament. We were able to raise over $2900 towards the Phil LeBlanc Memorial Fund which could not have been possible without your generosity.
I will be attempting to upload the matches from this year’s tournament in the next few weeks to our YouTube channel, PLMT. The matches will not contain the scoreboards initially but overtime we will format the matches to include an updated scoreboard. I encourage you to watch the matches that are already up from last year’s tournament.
Again thank you all for participating in our tournament and I cannot wait to begin preparing for next year’s tournament in 2023.