In-form champion Stacey expects tough title defence

LAWRENCE STACEY is in no state of complacency as the four-day Island Championships get under way tomorrow.

Lawrence Stacey will be defending his men’s singles title at this weekend’s Island Championships. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28898682)
Lawrence Stacey will be defending his men’s singles title at this weekend’s Island Championships. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28898682)

The reigning men’s singles champion has made a flying start to the new season, winning three straight senior titles and just losing the Whistlers Open final to Ben Foss in one of those five-set thrillers that have become commonplace among the top guns.

It is shaping up to be another tight contest for the headline honours given the coronavirus-forced absence of Garry Dodd.

Ahead of the men’s singles unfolding on Saturday evening with no separate finals night, Stacey wisely identified Foss and his own twin brother, Josh, as key contenders for the throne, but he did not stop there.

‘There’s five or six people who could potentially win it this weekend,’ he said.

‘It’s going to be a really competitive tournament and I could say I fancy my chances given the start to the season I’ve had, but this weekend looks, especially with Garry not competing, open to quite a few players.’

During lockdown, even the ever-committed Stacey twins had to endure a lengthy period with no play whatsoever.

Lawrence does, however, not feel much worse off for it.

‘We had three or four months without even practising – that’s probably the longest I have ever been without playing.

‘I actually think that break has rejuvenated a lot of people and I am really looking forward to the first really big tournament since lockdown, if you like.

‘A best of seven is very different to a best of five,’ he added in recognition of his seventh-set success over Foss last year.

The women’s singles take place the same night and the two highly-decorated veterans, Dawn Morgan and Kay Chivers, are first and second seed respectively.

Morgan enters as defending champion but often goes under heavy pressure from Chivers, who had won the previous two editions.

Morgan last year paired with Josh Stacey to win the mixed doubles, which unfold on Sunday, though she instead joins forces with Ryan Bichard this time around as Paula Le Ber and Stacey take top seeding.

The other two big doubles events take place on Monday night, with the two Stacey brothers and the Chivers and Morgan duo on title defence duties in the men’s and women’s respectively.

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