Hensman Park’s captains have hailed the club’s internal youth development as a key cog in their historic dual back-to-back Tennis West State League men’s and women’s titles.
Basking in the glow of an historic pair of titles, the club’s captains are fully aware of the singularity of the achievement and have credited their young guns for their impact in claiming more silverware.
The South Perth club’s men’s and women’s state league teams emerged triumphant from their respective grand finals on Saturday, sealing the rare feat of back-to-back titles for their two top sides.
The Parkers’ men defeated Cottesloe 3-1 in their final, while the women overcame Alexander Park, the only team to beat them this season, by the same scoreline.
It was the first time a club had done the double in successive seasons and was the icing on the cake of a dominant stretch of tennis for the men’s team, who went through the season undefeated to win their third title in a row and secure their fourth trophy in five seasons.
Men’s co-captain Evan Manso said the players were acutely aware of the scale of their achievement.
“We were talking at the club after the final and club coach Mark Leuba said this might never happen again, where the men’s and women’s both win the same title back to back years,” he said.
Hensman’s dynasty has been built on depth and youth development, and Manso hailed the efforts of teenagers Matt Burton and Ethan Cook, who were crucial all season for the club.
“The program around here, it just attracts good young players and when older players like Zach Itzstein are phasing out, we’ve got new players like Matt and Ethan coming up through the ranks,” he said.
Such was the depth of the Hensman Park side on Saturday that Manso did not even play. Fellow co-captain Rhys Johnson said it was testament to the production pipeline between juniors and seniors that existed at the club.
Johnson said Burton and his sister Hayley – the second title-winning siblings to have played in a championship Hensman Park team in the same season – were an example of people who played junior tennis at Hensman before transitioning to seniors.
“We’ve been able to have some some really good junior players, especially in the women’s team, start down here with their lessons and play on through into pennants,” he said.
“I think we’ve been able to create quite a good culture down at the club where we are very willing to give younger players a start in both the men’s and the women’s State League teams.
Women’s captain Anja Dokic said there was plenty more to come from the Parkers’ production pipeline, in a worrying sign for the rest of the competition.
“If you look at our junior pennant team, we had five teams win their summer division as well, so it’s been a really good year for all of us at the club,” she said.
Dokic led from the front with a straight-sets win to help her side beat Alexander Park, but said it was far from smooth sailing and admitted there were some pre-match nerves and in-game pressure.
“We knew coming into the day it was going to be a really tough match because we only lost to them only a few weeks ago, so we were a bit nervous but still hopeful we were able to get through it.”