14 Dec 2019

Taranaki was treated to another exciting weekend of intriguing tennis, where tactics played a big part in the winning and losing of ties.

The most tightly contested battle came as Pukekura visited Rotokare on their home courts and Pukekura came out the winners 9-7.  There was a very clear split between the strength of the Rotokare men and the strength of the Pukekura women.  Spearheaded by Ajeet Rai, all four of the Rotokare men posted victories over their Pukekura counterparts.  David Barnard was so comprehensively beaten by Blair Crowley 6-2 6-2 in the number two spot he was heard to say, “This may be the last time I turn out for Pukekura this season.” It is highly likely these were words uttered in the heat of the moment.  Nikayla Barnard won comfortably at the top of the order for the Pukekura women against Tania Atkinson 6-1 6-1.  The rest of the Pukekura women followed suit to leave the score at 4 matches apiece after the singles.  The doubles played out in the same fashion, with Rotokare winning both men’s clashes and Pukekura accounting for both women’s matches. This meant it was all to play for in the combines.  Unfortunately for Rotokare, tight matches went the way of Pukekura and they won both the No.3 and No.4 matches, both 9-7.  The second spot saw Nikayla Barnard dropping down to play with her brother David and they won easily 9-1.  Ajeet Rai won with his partner Lucy Atkinson in the top spot but Pukekura had already won the day.  Perhaps the telling difference between the teams was the well thought out strategy by Pukekura team captain Mike Erb.  Erb sacrificed himself in the top spot against Rai all day and made sure the combines pairings maximised the chances of wins for Pukekura.

Oakura hosted South Combined and ran out comfortable winners 13-3.  The most exciting match up was the battle between Graham Mitchell and Hamish Mead in the top men's spot. Mead won the match 7-6 6-7 7-5, with the only break of serve at the end of the 3rd set.  Unfortunately for South Combined three singles were to be all they would manage for the rest of the day, with all the doubles and combines going the way of Oakura.

Stratford were at home to Huatoki and Huatoki ran out winners 12-4.  It was relatively evenly poised at 5-3 after the singles but Stratford could only manage one more win in the combines for Michael Boland and Katie Stanners.

In the Wilson Trophy, South Combined lost at home to Rotokare 9-7, Pukekura lost at home to Inglewood 10-6 and Waitara lost at home to Oakura 10-6.

In the Sumpter Trophy, Oakura lost to South Combined 10-6 at home and Pukekura beat Huatoki 11-5 at home.