17 March 2017

Its grand final time for Soffe cup tennis this weekend with Pukekura hosting Oakura to determine the 2017 champions.  Pukekura dominated the round robin play and finished at the top of the table then had a convincing semi-final victory over Pihama two weeks ago.  In contrast Oakura finished in third position but overcame defending champions Huatoki in a closely fought semi-final.

Pukekura all season have shown dominance in their women's line up and the final is likely to be no exception with Pukekura fielding Louise Waite, Nikayla Barnard, Kirsten Adams and Linda Reid.  They will face Miaana Walden, Sue Oldfield, Jackie Keenan and Ana Spurdle.  Oakura have the luxury that Walden and Oldfield are in the same grading band so can play in either order on the day.  Pukekura's Louise Waite is likely to be too strong for either to beat so the interesting matchup will be in the No2 spot between Pukekura's Nikayla Barnard and probably Sue Oldfield or possibly Miaana Walden.  Walden showed great form earlier in the season beating a much higher graded opponent so Oakura may well use her in this pivotal game.  Pukekura's Kirsten Adam and Linda Reid are likely winners against Oakura's Keenan and Spurdle.

The No1 men's game is between Pukekura's Caleb Fleming and Oakura's Jaime Simpson.  It will take a rise in form on finals day for Simpson to overcome the in-form Caleb Fleming.  Oakura are strong at No2 with Graeme Mitchell favoured over Pukekura's David Barnard and at three Brady Simpson is also a likely victor over either Mike Erb or Sasha Milentejevic-Vague, if his semi-finals form is retained.  The final men's matchup sees Oakura's Len Adamson versus Andrew Hood and this could well be a pivotal game to determine if the score lines are even after singles.

Doubles sees both teams bring in specialist men's players with the two local coaches of Mat Garnham (Pukekura) and Matt Stringer (Oakura) being injected into the mix.  Oakura have confirmed Matt Stringer in the bottom doubles but Pukekura are yet to name their combinations.  With the men's line-ups possibly favouring Oakura slightly, they will need to use this strength wisely in combines if they are to secure victory over a home advantage Pukekura side.

Play commences at 10 am with all courts available so Taranaki tennis hope to conclude play by early afternoon on Womad weekend.