The tennis journey of late for Steven Diez has been rocky to say the least, but some smooth sailing might just be around the corner after the Canadian took out the men’s singles title at the Burnie International on Sunday.
Pitted against Australian Maverick Banes in the decider, the 27-year-old from Toronto mastered the tricky conditions better to win his maiden ATP Challenger Tour final 7-5, 6-1 and give him such much-needed confidence and funds for the coming season.
“It feels really good to win – there have been a lot of ups and downs to get to this point and it’s been pretty hard lately with money, but luckily I had people back at home love me and support me and always believe in me,” the 417th ranked Diez said.
“I think everyone pretty much believes in themselves but in tennis you have to win or you don’t get anywhere.
“When you’re winning big matches your confidence rises slowly, but when you start losing, it’s really easy to lose it.
“Also if you’re winning matches, you’re earning more money and you don’t have to think about things like buying a flight to the next tournament and how you can save money.
“Money doesn’t buy you happiness but it helps.”
Diez made the ideal start to the match, breaking the Banes serve in the opening game as the Queenslander struggled to find his range in the strong winds.
But just as Diez looked set to take control, his serve was also broken in the sixth game, allowing Banes to go on and establish a 4-3 lead.
Two successive service breaks followed again before the Canadian got on top of the Banes serve for a third time and then managed to hold his serve to win the opening set.
The second set began in exactly the same fashion as the first, with Diez grabbing the early break, but this time he wouldn’t relinquish the advantages he seized, mixing powerful baseline shots with deft drop shots to go up 4-0.
After 80 minutes on court, the match ended just how it started, with another Diez break of serve.
A disappointed Banes was unable to match the standard of play that saw him take down second, fifth and ninth seeds on his way to the final.
“I found it really tough today and made too many errors,” Banes said.
“He played really well and kept the pressure on me at all times.”