14 March 2015

Taranaki club tennis came out to play as defending title holders Huatoki and rivals REMAX Pukekura showed much passion in the Soffe cup final on Saturday with Huatoki winning a nail biting final 9-7 in front of a large crowd at the Huatoki courts to retain the title.

Huatoki made it a one-two in also winning the division 2 Wilson trophy over Stratford.  In the 40 years the Wilson trophy has been played for, Huatoki have never before secured this title so in winning both the Soffe cup and Wilson trophy it was a day of celebration for the Huatoki tennis club.

Ajeet Rai as expected made short work of Shaun Alborough winning 6-0 6-0 to get the home side off to a fast start. The No.2 men's match between Chris Popata and Mat Garnham also went to Huatoki with Popata showing his experience to dominate the game 6-3 6-1. The other two men's matches were more closely fought with Meto Snegirev taking the first set against Dave Innes 7-6 but then Innes, despite losing last time the two met, fought back to take the match 6-7 6-4 6-3. The final men's tie between Huatoki's Murray Keast and Pukekura's David Barnard was also a 3 set match eventually falling to the younger Barnard 0-6 6-3 6-0.  The women's singles were dominated by Pukekura with Taranaki's No.1 Louise Waite beating Hikaru Han in their first encounter this season 6-2 6-4, Kirsten Adams overcoming Sophie Robertson 6-3 7-6 and Linda Reid dominating Tracey Old 6-1 6-2. Huatoki's Ellen O'Byrne pulled one back for the home side in a hard fought, crowd pleasing battle with Donna Thorne with the younger O'Byrne moving Thorne around the court to eventually win 4-6 6-4 6-2. This meant at the end of singles the score was all tied up at 4-4.

The men's doubles went one each way with Huatoki's Rai and Popata dominating Alborough and Barnard 6-0 6-2 whereas Snegirev and Garnham were too strong for Innes and Keast 6-3 6-1.  The women's doubles were much closer match-ups, both going to 3 sets. Huatoki were unlucky not to take either of these with Han and Robertson going down to Waite and Thorne 6-2 4-6 7-6 and Old and O'Byrne also succumbing 6-3 3-6 7-6.  Defending title holders Huatoki now had their work cut out for them, being required to win all 4 combines to take home the title. This was aided in the first instance by Pukekura defaulting their top combines game. The other 3 ties all went on simultaneously and the crowd rose to the occasion with much club spirit on display from both sides.  Keast and Robertson were first to secure victory 9-3.  Popata and Han had a much closer encounter with Han executing some fantastic volleys to eventually prevail over coach player combo Garnham and Waite. The final match up was a nail biter eventually being decided in a tie break with Innes and Old overcoming Snegirev and Adam to take the title 9-7. 

The other A grade finals were also completed in sunny conditions with Huatoki winning the Wilson Trophy over Stratford 11-5, and the combined Oakura/Rotokare team securing the Sumpter Trophy over Manaia 10-6. The Fours final between Huatoki and Pukekura secured one title for Pukekura 5-1.