SERVING IT UP: Taylah Beckman, of Grafton, at the Ballina New Year Open. PHOTO: MARC STAPELBERG
SERVING IT UP: Taylah Beckman, of Grafton, at the Ballina New Year Open. PHOTO: MARC STAPELBERG

Beckman falls down at final hurdle in title defence

GRAFTON'S Taylah Beckman went down fighting in her attempt to defend her Ballina New Year Open title.

The 17-year-old second seed cruised through the preliminary rounds of the women's singles draw of the Australian Money Tournament to book a date with third seed, Queenslander Aleksa Cveticanin, in yesterday's final.

Beckman, ranked 87 in Australia, was confident heading into the clash, having beaten Cveticanin on three previous meetings, but ran into a dominant power game, going down to her rival 6-3, 6-3.

"She struggled a little bit with the pace," Taylah's dad Michael Beckman said. "In the semi-final, her opponent played a counter-punch style but this was a completely different match, a big power game.

"With her HSC, she hasn't had that much matchplay lately and a trip to Parramatta three weeks ago was her first tournament since August, so she's doing well to have the game to match it with these girls who play week in, week out."

Beckman had free passage through the first round by right of a bye, while fellow Grafton girl Georgia Allen won her opening match 6-1, 6-2.

In the round of 16, Beckman brushed aside Emily Osmond 6-0, 6-1 while fifth seed and Beckman's women's doubles partner Taylor Douglas dispatched Allen 6-1, 6-2. Beckman took care of her doubles partner in the 6-2, 6-1 in the quarter-final and then beat fourth seed Chloe Costelloe from Gosford 6-2, 6-3 before playing the final.

Cveticanin won 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 in her semi-final against top seed Tyra Calderwood, who is ranked 46 and has been as high as 21 in Australia.

"She trains full time at the national academy in Brisbane and is one of the up-and-comers in Australian junior tennis," Michael Beckman said.

Rain delays throughout yesterday morning pushed back proceedings on the final day of the tournament. At the time of print, top seeds Beckman and Douglas were involved in their women's doubles semi-final against fourth seeds Alana Adamus and Sarah Brown to meet second seeds Tyra Calderwood and Annerly Poulos in the decider, scheduled for last night.

Grafton boasted another runner- up trophy in the under-14 boys doubles where Jacob Hegedus teamed up with Murwillumbah's Jai Rowe.

After winning their first round encounter 6-0, 6-0, the pair defeated top seeds Joshua Barber and Ryan Wang from Queensland 6-4, 6-2, before going down to second seeds Brody Luc and Flyn Henry Schieb 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

After finishing the HSC in 2014, Taylah Beckman will hit the books again after the Ballina New Year Open, in preparation to sit her SAT exam to pursue the US College tennis system.