14 Nov 2011
Sunday saw a record number of tennis juniors playing in the North Taranaki Junior Grand Prix with 72 entries. The weather was good to the tournament controllers and every child had at least two games of singles and two games of doubles. This year's 16 boys was won by Pukekura Soffe Cup player Jaime Simpson. He won his final against fellow Pukekura A-grader Campbell Younger 6-1 6-1. The girls unfortunately had just the one entrant, Huatoki's Sophie Robertson.
The 14's boys competition had the strongest field with 18 pushing for a place in the representative side. With seeded names such as Huatoki's Ajeet Rai and Cory Sutherland, Okaiawa's Hamish Mead, Pukekura's Brady Simpson and Rotokare's Cole Hareb, the competition was great viewing. The Semi's were the predictable top four seeded players. Rai winning his match against Simpson 6-0 6-0 and Mead his against Cory Sutherland 6-1 6-3. In the finals, Rai played a strong match against Mead, using a wide range of shots to win 6-2 6-0. The Doubles was won by the top seeded duo of Rai and Cole Hareb over the seconded seeded Cory Sutherland and Brady Simpson. The girls competition was smaller with just the 8 girls entered. Ellen O'Byrne of Huatoki (seeded number one) won the event playing Manaia's Dayna Corbett. The score 6-0 6-1.
16 entrants battled for the title of 12 years and under boys. This event also saw the top four seeds into the Semi-finals. Top seeded Callum Sutherland of Huatoki played Hawera's James Weir (4th seed), with Sutherland winning 6-4 6-2. Pukekura's Tim Neild, seeded second, met Huatokiís Daniel Heerdegen in the other Semi-final, Neild taking the match 6-0 6-0. If the spectators were expecting a great game to watch with the top two seeded players in the final, they got just that. The match going down to a nail biting third set tie-breaker with Neild taking the title 6-3 4-6 10-6. Neild also took the doubles title, partnering James Weir to win the final against first seeded Sutherland and Heerdegen. Louise Waite (Pukekura) once again stamped her mark on age group tennis, winning the girls 12 and under. 7 other entrants couldn't stand in the way of Waite becoming the title holder again this year. Her opponent in the final, Poppy Mitchell of Oakura, is new to the age group and competed well against the older and stronger Waite; the score was 6-1 6-1. Mitchell did take the title for the doubles, when she teamed up with fellow Oakura player Bailey Bruckner to win the final against first seeded Waite and her Pukekura team-mate Grace Coomber (9-6).
10 years and under boys had 10 entries. Top Seeded Caleb Fleming (Pukekura) met un-seeded Pukekura's David Barnard in the finals. Barnard knocked out two seeded players on his way to the final. First to fall was 4th seeded Coby Sinclair (Opunake), 9-0. Second was one of the youngest of the entrant, Huatoki's Jayden Harrison (2nd seed) in the semi-finals. The final was won by Fleming 9-3. Fleming teamed with Manaia's Jeremy Gopperth in the doubles playing Barnard and Harrison. Fleming / Gopperth won the match 9-4. The girls 10s had 8 entries, with the first and second seeds meeting in the final. First Seeded Tessa McCann (Hawera) won a tightly contested match against Huatoki's Lexie Davies 9-7. In the Doubles, McCann and Davies paired up to beat Oakura duo Taylor Mitchell and Anna Oldfield 7-4.