11 Nov 2014

The first night of Taranaki tennis's new league for the province's elite, the Tawa Glen Cafe Thursday Premier League, begins tonight at the Rotokare courts in New Plymouth.  Play will be continuous on three courts from 6pm.

Eighteen of the best players from within the province are pitted against each other in 6 teams of three, playing one singles match and two games of doubles of shortened format.    Each team consists of a player ranked as a number 1, 2 or 3.  If any player is unavailable, a substitute of the same rank can be called upon to fill the gap.

The new competition has been created to provide a quick-fire alternative to traditional forms of interclub and as an endeavor to keep the high performance players within the Taranaki region playing the best of their peers each week.

There are 6 matches up for grabs in each tie (3 individual singles and each player has two games of doubles (players 1 & 2, 1 & 3 and 2 & 3).  One point is awarded for winning a match but 2 points are awarded for the team who has the highest total of games

Tawa Glen Cafe has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Taranaki Tennis to run this new competition.  Hosts, Frayne and Deb Bloor are no strangers to tennis.  Frayne, originally from Hawera, has been one of Taranaki's best tennis exponents in recent times.  Despite living in Australia for 15 years, running his own tennis academy, he equally holds the record of 5 Taranaki Open singles championships between 1991-2009. This equals the record set by A.G. Wallace (1906-1922).  Moving back to Taranaki, less than 2 years ago, Frayne and Deb have built up their beautiful Tawa Glen Cafe as an establishment of delicious home cooking and smooth organic coffees.  They are open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-3pm.

Frayne also sees this as the ideal time to promote and expand on another of his skills - that of racquet restringing, which he has perfected over 25 years.  Using the latest electronic technology, namely a Wilson Baiardo restringing machine, your racquet can be strung to an extremely precise 0.1 kg (or if you prefer, pounds!).  The Baiardo restringer is used at all of the tennis Grand Slams and is arguably the most sophisticated machine of its type.  Tawa Glen Cafe is offering a free coffee with every restringing if you mention the Tawa Glen Cafe Thursday Premier League.

Team 1

Frayne Bloor (Lepperton)

Mike Lace (Waiwaka)

Nicola Irvine (Pukekura)

Team 2

Mike Fleming (Pukekura)

Jaime Simpson (Pukekura)

Beauden Fleming (Manaia)

Team 3

Ben Pollard (Rotokare)

Chris Jury (Pukekura)

Greg Hareb (Rotokare)

Team 4

Graeme Mitchell (Oakura)

Andrew Sangster (Huatoki)

Brady Simpson (Pukekura)

Team 5

Jordan Fleming (Manaia)

Andrew Powell (Okaiawa)

Nicole Koch (Manaia)

Team 6

Cameron Koch (Manaia)

David Geange (Waiwaka)

David Lace (Huatoki)

Replacement Players

Caleb Fleming (Oakura)

Jeremy Moore (Okaiawa)

Jacob Gopperth (Manaia)

Ajeet Rai (Huatoki)


Preview of 13th Nov

Team 3 v Team 5
In a tie which could be seen as a North v South Origin match, the focus will be on former Taranaki No. 1, Jordan Fleming.  Fleming (T3) should be too sharp for Ben Pollard (T5), although Pollard has home court advantage, and free of recent injuries could trouble Fleming fresh-up if Fleming hasn't suitably prepared himself for the shortened format.  Chris Jury (T3) takes on Andrew Powell (T5) in the battle of the No.2's.  Jury is very experienced and very fit but will have to overcome Powell's speed and aggression to close out the match.  The battle of the No.3's sees our first clash of the sexes when Greg Hareb (T3) takes on Nicole Koch (T5).  Both players are bound to be nervous and it could come down to which player can start the quickest, get games on the board, and hold the lead for the rest of the match.  The doubles matches will be equally intriguing but Jordan Fleming would be expected to expose his form and win both of his contests.

Prediction: Team 5 to win 5-3


Team 1 v Team 2

The second tie sees the overdue return of Frayne Bloor (T1) onto the court in a competitive environment when he takes on promoted Jaime Simpson (T2).  Whilst Simpson is a rising star who has the fearlessness of youth, it would be a surprise if he could topple the well-prepared and very experienced Bloor.  Veteran, Mike Lace (T1), will have to take on another of the younger brigade when he engages in battle with fill-in No.2 Jacob Gopperth (T2).  With a generation in age between them and contrasting styles, it is difficult to predict but greater experience should overcome the youthful exuberance of Gopperth.  The No.3 singles match will see two teenagers do battle when Caleb Fleming fills-in for Team 1 and will take on Beauden Fleming.  Beauden Fleming should be the victor due to his size and strength over the younger Caleb Fleming.  The majority of the doubles matches are predicted to go to Team 1.

Prediction: Team 1 to win 5-3


Team 4 v Team 6

The final tie sees a temporary player step in for both teams, but with certainly no loss of skill in either case.  The No.1 match will feature current Taranaki Open singles champion Ajeet Rai (T6) taking on the experience of Graeme Mitchell (T4).  Rai is expected to be too good on this occasion.  The No.2 match will see former Taranaki rep player Jeremy Moore (T4) step into the fray, filling in against David Geange (T6).  Moore has been playing at a more social level and will have to have his wits about him to defend against the challenge of Geange.  The No.3 match sees another generational gap when teenager Brady Simpson (T4) will look to make his mark against veteran David Lace (T6).  Lace will definitely have a large dose of experience to carry out onto the court and looks to have the advantage on paper but Simpson is another youngster who is fast and aggressive and could take the game to Lace.  Rai will obviously be an asset in both of his doubles matches but Moore/Simpson could get a match off Team 6 by winning their doubles match.

Prediction: Team 6 to win 7-1