CHRIS ORNSTIEN – Gold Medal Winner in the Men’s Doubles 70+ event, World No 1 in the ITF 70+ rankings and winner of Tennis Sussex “Adult Outstanding Achievement Award – 2018”. What an exceptional year!
Chris Ornstien, a long standing Member of Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club, recently took part in the 2018 38th Super Seniors World Team and Individual Championships which was staged in Umag, Croatia. The first week was set aside for the ITF Super-Seniors Team Championships & Ornstien had been selected to represent Team GB in the Jack Crawford Cup (Men’s 70+). His teammates were: Nigel Barker (Somerset, Captain), Olly Rogger (Middlesex) & Wilf Jessop (Yorkshire).
There were 24 countries nominated for the Jack Crawford Cup – the highest number in any age category, which meant 8 groups of 3. Team GB’s group  included seeded Austria and another strong nation, Italy. The format for these matches is similar to a mini Davis Cup in that each match comprises 2 singles rubbers & 1 doubles, all best of 3 tie-break sets. GB was drawn to play Austria on the first day of the tournament but Austria had more experience of playing regularly on European clay & Team GB lost 1.2.
This loss effectively meant that to have any chance of playing for a medal GB had to beat Italy the next day. Ornstien clinched the second singles match in the third set 6.4 to make it 1-all with the all important doubles to decide the outcome. Ornstien and Wilf Jessop currently hold both the GB National Grass Court and the ITF South of England Doubles Championships titles and they were chosen to play the decider. They beat the Italian pair 6.4, 7.6 and also maintained their unbeaten record. GB went forward to the next play-off group [9-16]. A win against seeded Germany which was once again clinched by the doubles pair Ornstien and Jessop, placed Team GB in the 9th– 12th play-off group.
The next match was against Australia and the GB captain opted to field the same squad. Once again it went to 1-all after the singles and Ornstien went back on court 30 minutes after his singles match to play the decider with his partner Jessop. Both played extremely well to forge a 6.1, 5.0 lead but the Australian pair clawed their way back to 5.4. Ornstien and his partner nonetheless kept calm and won it 6.4. Team GB was now in the 9th/10th play-off against the USA team. The USA won the singles and again the Ornstien/Jessop pair continued their unbeaten record to win the doubles rubber 6.2, 6.4. and cement Team GB’s 10th place overall.
Men’s 70+ Singles
The Individual World Championships always begin the day after the intensive Team week concludes & all the matches were tough right from the start, especially for players who had played singles & doubles in most of the team matches. Ornstien (seeded No.18) received a bye in the opening round of the singles event and as a result had a rest day. His first match was against the Australian No.2 seed and Ornstien won it 6.2, 6.2.
The following day a very strong wind had blown in – and Ornstien was up against the No.11 seed and the Canadian No.1. Ornstien managed to concentrate better in the windy conditions & won through 6-4 6-3. On the next day he faced the No.6 seed and German No.1. Ornstien forged a 5.2 lead but the German player took advantage of Ornstien’s hesitation and came back to win it 5.7. Despite going down a break early in the 2nd set Ornstien fought back to take it, in a tie-break 7.4. After the re-start [the seniors’ rules allow a 10 minute break between sets 2 & 3] Ornstien’s opponent overpowered him and raced away to win 1.6. to end his exceptional run in the event.
Men’s 70+ Doubles – GOLD MEDAL WINNER & WORLD CHAMPION
The doubles event started on day 2 of the tournament & Ornstien paired up with an American “leftie” friend, Bruce Barrett. There were 32 pairs in the draw for this event and they were seed 6. They won the first round 6.3, 6.2.
The next round was against an Italian pairing; it was on that very windy day and the Italians did not deal with the conditions very well at all. Ornstien & Barrett won 6-1 6-0. In the next round they were given a walk-over into the semi-final to play against the top Norwegian pair who had beaten the Austrian No.2 seeds the day before. Ornstien & Barrett lost the 1st 5.7 in a tie-break but then came back to win the second and followed with 10.2 win in the 3rd Championship Tie-break set which, placed them in the Final against the No.3 seeds from Spain & Switzerland. The Spaniard was a member of the Spanish team which won the Gold in the Teams’ Championships the previous week.
Ornstien & Barrett started well & grabbed an early break of serve in the very first game. They held this break all the way through the set to take it 6-4. They continued to keep up the pressure from the start and moved on to a 5.2 lead with Barrett serving for the match and the Gold medal.
Once again they ended up in another battle to win it, but after (only) 7 deuces this time, the Swiss player chipped a backhand across court, short & wide into the tramlines. When Barrett reached the ball he was probably about 1.5 metres outside the sideline & the opponents were both effectively covering the net area on their side of the court. The ball was far too low to consider trying a lob so he chose, in a brilliant instinctive moment, to play his shot low and below the net height. He played it between the net post & the umpire’s chair into the tramline about half way between the service line & the baseline, leaving the opponents absolutely no chance for any play on his ball. It was a brilliant way to finish a World Championship final and to win a Gold Medal.
TENNIS SUSSEX AWARDS NOVEMBER 2018
His fantastic achievements this year have been acknowledged and rewarded by Tennis Sussex.
Chris Ornstien, World Doubles Champion and now World Number 1 in the ITF 70+ Doubles Rankings, has been awarded the 2018 “Adult Outstanding Achievement Award” in recognition of his exceptional year.