14 March 2010
Soffe Cup's Semi-Final round delivered a great weekend's worth of tennis with Sanfords Manaia and AWE Huatoki both winning through in even contests to earn the right to play each other in next weekends Final to be played at Manaia Tennis Club.
Sanfords Manaia won through to the Final by the margin of one set as Central Finance Rotokare gave the hosts a challenge the Taranaki tennis community won't forget in a hurry. With the scores locked at 8-8 after all the completed matches, it came down to sets where Manaia availed 18 sets to 17.
Manaia missed the services of their top man Cameron Koch on the day, forcing a re-shuffle of their men's line-up which Rotokare took full advantage of. Blair Crowley played extremely well at No. 2 to beat Jason Mills 6-1 1-6 7-6. Malcolm Elder then beat Michael Gates 6-4 6-4, while Kyle Crowley beat Tommy Death 6-1 7-5.
In the women's singles, Nicole Koch and Maree Gopperth notched some vital wins for Manaia to keep them in the hunt going into the doubles. Koch won 6-2 6-2 over Catherine Stevenson while Gopperth won 6-3 6-2 over Frances Gray. With the score at 5-3 in Rotokare's favour after the singles, Manaia made their move as they invariably do in the doubles. Jordan Fleming and Mills beat Mike Roberts and Blair Crowley 6-2 6-2, while Gates and Death beat Elder and Kyle Crowley. The women's doubles were shared with Stevenson and Karen Cranston beating Koch and Sarah Kelly 7-5 6-2, and Ginny Death and Maree Gopperth beating Beccie Atkins and Gray 6-1 6-2.
Manaia squared the ledger at 6-6 and finally it came down to the combines to find a winner. Manaia won the top two combines matches emphatically, 9-1 in both games. Rotokare answered back by winning the bottom two combines. The sole set that differentiated the teams at the end of the day was accrued in the No.3 combines match between Gates/Koch and Elder/Cranston- although the Rotokare pair won the match 9-8 Manaia attained the set compliments of winning 6 games in the process.
AWE Huatoki secured a boarding ticket down to South Taranaki next weekend for the Soffe Cup Final courtesy of their 11-5 victory over Hareb Deken Oakura. The final scoreline was a disservice to the spirited fight Oakura displayed against the home side.
Oakura applied the acid early on and grabbed three of the four men's singles. Graham Mitchell beat Jonathan Ussher 3-6 7-6 7-6 in the top mens match while John Hardie Boys and Aaron Hine secured good wins for their team against Neil Bridgeman and David Geange respectively. David Innes saved face for the Huatoki men by beating Tei Walden 6-4 7-5.
Fortunately for Huatoki, however their women were collectively on fire on the day which ultimately shone through. Saori Han came back commendably from a set down to beat Sue Oldfield 2-6 6-3 7-6. Alice Caskey showed her burgeoning talent beating Becky Bruckner 6-1 6-1. Chris Wilson and Janice Taylor topped off those performances by winning their matches 6-1 6-4 and 6-3 6-0 respectively.
Huatoki won three of the four doubles, Ussher and Bridgeman teaming well to beat Hardie Boys and Mitchell 6-3 1-6 7-6 (15-13). Han and Taylor then beat Oldfield and Bruckner 6-3 4-6 7-6, while Wilson and Caskey beat Chris Davies and Shae Martin 6-4 6-0. Hine and Walden won the exclusive doubles match for Oakura beating Geange and Innes 4-6 6-3 7-6.
In the combines Huatoki needed to win 6 games in any given match to secure the decisive set to see them home. They achieved that in the first combines on court between Hardie Boys/Bruckner, and Bridgeman/Taylor. Although Hardie Boys and Bruckner won the match 9-7, that was enough for Huatoki to see them through regardless of the remaining results. As it panned out Huatoki won the final three combines to put the measure beyond doubt and to live one more day.