From rather humble beginnings, the Dallas Donnelly Memorial Tennis Tournament has become a staple of the local sporting calendar.
The 48th edition was played on Boxing Day and saw Lincoln Stewart and Paul McDermott, who was visiting from Cairns, come back from an early stumble to serve their way to the honours.
The story of the tournament’s origins goes that local rugby league legend John “Dallas” Donnelly and three of his mates were bored and looking for something to do one Boxing Day, explained current organiser John Hickey.
After heading down to the river for a swim they then decided to have hit of tennis and managed to wrangle the groundsman to make up a court for them.
“Two of them claimed to be the Boxing Day tennis champions,” Hickey said.
“From then on it was all on. All us younger guys were allowed to play.”
“I was 14 when I first played.”
The local league players made up the majority of the field and Hickey, said there was great prestige in winning the tournament, especially among the younger guys.
“All our guys looked up to him (Donnelly),” he said.
The “life and soul of the event” when Donnelly tragically passed away, they named it in his honour.
Twenty six starters braved the hot conditions to battle it out for the spoils this year.
“We seed half the field and draw the rest out of a hat,” Hickey said.
After losing to Adam Winner, who is a two-time winner of the event, and Nathan Lennan 6-4 in his and McDermott’s opening game, Stewart thought he had been knocked out and was about to hop in the shower when he was informed that they were in a play-off for a semi-final.
They then defeated his father in-law Hickey and Aaron Donnelly, before accounting for James Donnelly and Graham Landers to earn a rematch with Winner and Lennan for the spoils.
This time they came out on top getting up 6-1.
It’s Stewart’s second successive triumph after teaming up with Jordan Ford to claim victory last year.