12 Nov 2010

Tariki Icon Sports Pukekura takes on Central Finance Rotokare at Pukekura Tennis Club on Saturday, reliving one of the great rivalries of yester year.  Callum Old is set to meet Ben Pollard in the No. 1 men's singles match as Pollard looks to return from injury after a season's absence.  So crucial to Rotokare's fortunes before his spell on the sidelines, Pollard will add a further spark to his team henceforth this season.  The No. 2 match will see Tony Radich play Blair Crowley in a match where Radich will start as slim favourite; both possess heavy topspin baseline repertoires making for genuine spectacle.

Dennis Reid and Thomas Brown will make up the Pukekura men while for Rotokare Malcolm Elder and Greg Hareb may cap off a very strong mens line-up.  Phil Teenzen will remain as cover.  In the womens matches Pukekura's Linda Reid will play Karen Cranston.  Cranston has been a revelation for Rotokare in the past two seasons and the Wanganui representative will likely add to her list of scalps unless Linda Reid can unsettle Cranston's rhythm and prevent her from dictating play.  Donna Thorne will play against Tania L'Ami in the No. 2 match with Thorne slight favourite against Rotokare's newest member.  In the remaining women's singles Kirsten Adam and Jeanette Harding will be tough to beat for the youthful duo of Rebecca Atkins and Frances Gray.  There is very little to separate these two teams as the same can be said of all the teams in this year's competition; however Pukekura will start as favourites at home, and will be hard to beat in the crucial doubles and combines sections owing to their settled line-up.

 

Sanfords Manaia will be looking forward to returning home this weekend when they take on Hareb Deken Oakura in a chance to further widen the gap between them and the chasing pack.  Hareb Deken Oakura were unlucky not to return home with the win against AWE Huatoki last weekend and will be suitably eager to register their first win of the season this Saturday although it shapes as their toughest challenge of the season to date.

Jordan Fleming will take on Graham Mitchell, the two remaining undefeated No. 1s of the competition (notwithstanding Ben Pollard and Jono Ussher who will both return this weekend).  Not since Joe Frasier knocked Muhammad Ali to the floor in 'the Fight of the Century' in 1971 have we seen a match up of these unique proportions- two legitimate undisputed reigning heavyweight champions' challenging for the crown to say 'I am the greatest'.  

In other matches, Cameron Koch will play either Tei Walden or Josh Walden, with Koch favoured.  Manaia will be led by Michael Gates while Tommy Death will get another chance to establish his role in the mens side.  Jamie Hareb will make the fourth member of the Oakura men, while Len Adamson will act as back up should Joshua Walden not pass the final fitness test.

Nicole Koch will play Oakura's Miaana Walden, with Koch the favourite against her fellow representative team-mate from last season.  Sarah Kelly of Manaia will have her work cut out against Becky Bruckner at No. 2 but will be slight favourite.  Maree Gopperth and Grace Kelly will make up the Manaia women while for Oakura Louis Brankin and Shae Martin will play at No.'s 3 and 4 respectively.

 

Stumble Inn Waiwaka host AWE Huatoki in the remaining match in New Plymouth.

Huatoki's Jono Ussher returns to the fold this weekend from university and will have his hands full against David Lace in the No. 1 men's match.  A long gruelling tussle is on the cards unless Ussher can shorten the points against the tireless workhorse of David Lace.  Mike Lace meanwhile will take on David Geange in the No.2 match.  Nga Nicholas and Michael Goulding will then take on David Innes and Ajeet Rai in the remaining men's matches.  David Innes, the steady and wily tactician, will provide a fascinating contrast to Nicholas' powerful ground strokes and athletic court coverage.

Waiwaka have a strong womens line up this season which has started very well.  Krystal Oakes, Michelle Lace, Jaydn Bruce, and Sharon Bruce will fancy their chances against Huatoki's line-up- Alice Caskey, Diane Carswell, Megan Walsh, and Sophie Robertson.  

The No.1 match between Krystal Oakes and Alice Caskey will be particularly captivating as Oakes, the perennially consistent performer, will be put under pressure by Huatoki's new No.1 who has started the season impressively.

While Huatoki sit second on the table Waiwaka pose a huge threat to that position, as Waiwaka have been inherently more dangerous with its first season back in Soffe Cup under the belt, along with the acquisition of some talented new players.  Could go either way.