16 March 2024

First Time Soffe Cup win for Oakura

 

A new name will be engraved on the Taranaki Tennis Associationís premium competition trophy after Oakura defeated the reigning Soffe Cup holders, Rotokare via a count back of sets 19-18 after match wins were locked at 8-all.

Rotokare were looking for a three-peat of Soffe Cup championships, having gone through the season almost unbeaten; suffering one loss on a countback after tying at 8-all, interestingly against Oakura.

Rotokare had home court advantage and started of impressively when both their No.1ís got them on the board successfully.  Karen Cranston was predictably too strong for Sue Oldfield 6-2 6-4 and Blair Crowley provided an upset when he defeated Jordan Fleming comfortably in straight sets 6-3 6-3.
Mixed results thereafter for Rotokare as the other three menís singles went to Oakura as well as an upset win to No.4 lady Toni Peacock over Becca Smith 6-1 6-1.  Oakuraís Tomi Avery, Daniel Lewis and Gavin Stanley had straight set wins over Cole Hareb, Jason Lawrence and Shane Devlin respectively.

Tania Atkinson and Juliet Farquar kept the flag flying for Rotokare with 6-1 7-6 and 2-6 6-3 7-5 wins over Jackie Keenan and Grace Kelly.

On paper, the tie looked like it was going to be a tight affair and this was being borne out after singles with the two teams locked at four matches apiece.

Rotokare lost both menís doubles narrowly; Crowley/Hareb beaten by Fleming/Avery 6-4 7-5 whilst Lawrence/Devlin lost 6-0 4-6 10-7 to Graeme Mitchell/Stanley.  Rotokareís ladies tied it all up again at 6 matches each with 6-2 6-0 and 7-5 6-4 victories.

With four combined doubles matches to play, best of 17 games each, it looked like a draw might be the overall probability.  In that situation, there would be a count back of sets won and then games won, to decide a winner.  The winner of each combined doubles match (first to 9 games) would earn 2 sets, however if the loser reached 6 games then they would snare 1 set for the count back.

Rotokare got on the board first via Crowley/Cranston defeating Fleming/Oldfield 9-8.  Whilst losing, Oakura had secured 1 set.  In the No.2 match, Oakura struck back with Avery/Keenan overcoming Hareb/Atkinson 9-6, thus gifting a set to Rotokare as well.  A comprehensive win for Oakura in the No.3ís match, Mitchell/Kelly crushing Lawrence/Farquar 9-0, put Oakura up 8 matches to 7 in the overall score. 
Rotokare needed the win in the final match and they achieved this with Devlin/Smith beating a regular combination of Adamson/Chris Davies 9-6.  Vitally, by reaching 6 games in their loss, Adamson/Davies secured a very important set and the overall Soffe Cup championship victory.

Adamson wasnít aware of the overall score when playing in his only match of the tie - ďServing at 5-8 down, I thought 1 more game might have a bit of importance and so it turned out!  Iíve been playing Soffe Cup since before some of these people were born, so I knew a bit about the importance of every game.Ē

 

Hawera came out winners of the Sumpter Trophy, too strong for Waiwaka 8-3 in their final.

In an expanded Fours competition, consisting of three grades, Okaiawa were winners of the Fours Premier A division defeating Pukekura 4-2.

The Fours Level B (Baylis Cup) final was won comprehensibly by Huatoki 6-0 over Pukekura.

Okaiawa completed a good day for the small south-Taranaki club when they travelled to Waitara and won the Fours Level C title (J/L/G Brien Cup), winning 4-2.