Rubin Statham beat his twin brother Oliver during their first match at the Te Anau Tennis Invitational but the rivalry didn’t seem to make it off the court.
Tennis player Oliver Statham wishes he brought a medal he won 25 years ago to Te Anau.
It was the last time he beat his twin brother Rubin Statham on the court, and he said he would have happily hung up his racket had he won against him on Monday.
The two went head-to-head for their first match of the 2020 Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational, but Rubin – who likes to brag that he’s 15 minutes older – ended up winning 6-3 6-4.
To be fair though, Oliver got a much better response from the crowd, Rubin said.
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“I’ve never seen the [Te Anau] crowd on their feet like when Ollie played,” he said.
“I’m good at winning, but not good at engaging the crowd.”
The outing was the first invitational and third match for Rubin since undergoing hip surgery in 2019.
“It’s really special that I can run around on the court again,” he said.
The brothers are fans of the Te Anau event for a number of reasons, like the slow court that compliments the altitude, but Oliver said it was a great opportunity for younger players to experience high-pressure environments.
He would be the first to put his hand up if Te Anau were to host a second tournament, he said.
Fostering the next generation of tennis stars is close to their hearts and the two will spend much 2021 focusing on the high performance training academy they opened eight months ago.
They’re also bringing tennis and entertainment together is a series of events featuring matches and live music and comedy; which they hope to expand to the South Island in time.
The Stathams haven’t been out of Auckland since March – a strange experience for the two who usually spend up to 40 weeks a year away from home.
They planned to make the most of their trip south, ending Monday with a dip in Lake Te Anau, before a tour of the South Island after the tournament.
Te Anau Tennis Club president Greg Sheppard said Monday was the busiest first day of the 2020 Distinction Hotels Te Anau Tennis Invitational ever.
“It’s going great guns. There are people absolutely everywhere,” he said on Monday afternoon.
He expected Tuesday’s turnout for the second day of the competition to be even better, given the good weather forecast.
Fiordland Community Board Chair Sarah Greaney said the weather was great for Te Anau, which was definitely busier after a tough year for tourism operators.
“We’ve been so quiet, it’s nice to see the motels and campgrounds filling up,” she said.
On Monday morning, Ajeet Rai beat Anton Shepp 6-4 6-2, while defending champ Finn Tearney won his first set against Isaac Becroft 6-4 6-1.
Mike Venus has beaten Alex Klintcharov 6-4 6-4.
Rubin went on to beat Rai with 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, and Shepp beat Oliver 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 to end the first day of the competition.