15 Feb 2016
Taranaki Tennis put up a dominant performance against Manawatu in searing hot conditions to clinch both the Senior A and B titles in Hawera on the grass courts of the Hawera Lawn Tennis club at the weekend. The Senior A team defeated Manawatu 19 games to 5 with the B team showing Taranaki's depth winning 22-2. The Taranaki teams were a mixture of experience and youth with all players performing at a high level.
Whilst the number one men's match between Taranaki rising young talent Ajeet Rai and NZ top ten player Victor Romero went the way of the more experienced Romero from Manawatu it was a 3 set battle that held spectators mesmerised. The older and experienced Romero took a very tight first set 7-6 only for the youngster to come back and take the second set 6-3 to set up a third set decider. Romero showed his class playing at a high level for every point of the game and was therefore able to win the tie in the third set 6-1. The number two men's match was equally captivating with the older Rai brother Amrit taking a full 3 sets to overcome Manawatu's Kieran Rooney 7-5 5-7 7-6. Taranaki's line up below the Rai brothers was impressive reading with Dani Guerra, Jaime Simpson, Jordan Fleming and Caleb Fleming all outplaying their Manawatu opposition.
Taranaki's women's line up was equally impressive. At number one Louise Waite succumbed to Manawatu's Maria Zhang but Taranaki born representative player Alice Caskey returned from Auckland university to play at number two with an impressive 6-1 7-5 win over Bridget Dickens. Huatoki's Hikaru Han and Ellen O'Byrne had relatively easy wins at 3 and 4 and at number 6, the youngest member of the senior team Nikayla Barnard battled hard to overcome losing the first set to go on and win the match 0-6 6-4 6-2. The only other loss for Taranaki in the women's line up was at number 5 where Taranaki's Bailey Bruckner lost a 3 set battle against Sam Rowe. Leading 9-3 after singles, Taranaki went on to win the majority of the doubles and combines games to clinch the Senior A tie 19-5.
For the first time in a number of years a B team was added to the mix from each region, playing for the Cleland Cup. Taranaki showed significant depth of talent losing only 2 singles in the B tie and winning all the doubles and combines matches. Taranaki's number one in the men's B team Sam Howard recorded the only men's loss against Manawatu youngster Felix Foertsch with Taranaki's Blair Crowley, Brady Simpson, Beauden Fleming, Jayden Harrison and David Barnard all equally impressive dropping no more than 3 games in all their singles ties. In the women's, it was a similar story with Marcella Jones, Tracey Old, Jackie Keenan, Poppy Mitchell and Alexandra Spurdle not dropping any sets to Manawatu and the only loss was at number 5 where Dayna Corbett competed well but couldn't overcome Manawatu's Tiah Parker losing 7-6 6-3. With a number of juniors included in the B tie this bodes well for Taranaki tennis in coming years.