Anton announces his arrival in THE GREAT WHITE NORTH
Anton Matienko (left) wins The 2022 ST CLASSIC defeating 13 year old Judah McEachern-Brown (right) in the finals. Judah played a great final and threw all he had at Anton but Anton who has only been in Canada 4 months proved too good. Anton began his journey in The 22 Classic on Friday July 22 with first round wins in both singles and doubles with partner Ryan Baumann. Then Saturday July 23 happened. A day that may not be forgotten for a long time, not just for Anton and his family, but also for many others who were a part of this years tournament. The Saturday featured a lot of tennis. Like, A LOT. And it was hot, with no wind. Zero Wind. And the kind of humidity that makes you feel like you are carrying a giant, wet, HOT blanket over your shoulders wherever you go. The kind of humidity that makes the simple act of breathing a chore.
Anton began the day by defeating Eric Koehli in straight sets, but had to earn every point. He then defeated Paul and Cole Ciccone in doubles along with his partner Ryan Baumann. After the doubles Anton played Bryson Tye, who is a former ST CLASSIC Champion. It was around 3pm when they hit the court, and the two of them exchanged blows in what was some of the best tennis The Classic has ever seen. We are talking 10+ ball rally's hit at maximum pace. It was the kind of match that the pros may endure at say THE USOPEN under extreme conditions. The kind of match that the pros have 48 hours to recover from. But for Anton, he had about an hour to recover until his doubles semi finals.
This is when the wheels literally fell off for Anton. Anton began to experience severe leg cramps that disabled him completely. All hands were on deck as his family and friends, as well as other players and organizers all gave him fluids, massage and a mustard pack (yep, turns out spice helps). But the real hard work was left to Anton to endure severe pain until his body could recover the fluids needed after his heroic effort in beating Bryson 6-4 6-4.
Anton had no choice but to pull out of the doubles, but with a full washout on Sunday his body was permitted the time it needed to recover for the Semifinals on Monday July 24. Mike Shriqui; who had an incredible tournament by winning The Doubles with partner Adrian Sumajadi, and defeating several quality opponents on route to The Semi-Finals was Anton's opponent. Despite his efforts to test Anton Mike was not enough for Anton and his combination of big power and deft touch.
The final was exciting as well. Judah McEachern-Brown who also had an incredible run by making the Semi-Finals of the doubles and the finals of the singles and doing so at just 13 years old made Anton earn every point. But, in the end; Anton would not be denied. As he held his trophy and thanked Judah for great competition and told him to stick with it knowing that in a few more years he will be a very high quality player Anton smiled and finally allowed himself to appreciate an epic effort.
Canada's gain is Russia's loss if Anton decides to stay in THE GREAT WHITE NORTH. Not only is his tennis sublime (smooth, feel, great timing, efficient compact strokes, and power to burn), but Anton is the real deal when it comes to character. The way he dealt with the severe cramping (not to be overly dramatic, but it was intense and he was a true gut-check warrior.) We had 911 on the ready it was so bad. But also the way he competed with authentic sportsmanship, his line calls, his adaptability and ability to find ways to push through. Anton has proved that the absolute best athletes inspire others to find their own greatness simply by the way they conduct themselves.
Congratulations Anton, and thanks to all who competed in the 2022 Simcoe Tennis Classic.