17 Nov 2016
Soffe cup tennis this week sees top of the table Oakura travel to meet defending champions Huatoki, whilst second on the table Pukekura are away to Rotokare. The battle of the South is likely to be epic in other encounter between Okaiawa/Manaia and Pihama, being played at Okaiawa.
Huatoki have listed either Ajeet Rai or Jayden Harrison in the number one spot this week, with Rai making the final decision on availability on Saturday morning after returning from an overseas tour. Huatoki would be hoping to have Rai, NZ under 18 champion and ITF junior ranked 120 in the world, to increase their firepower against top of the table Oakura. If Rai plays he will meet Oakura's Jaime Simpson, leaving Jayden Harrison to face the daunting consistency of Graeme Mitchell. The other two men's games see Huatoki's Alistair Nairn playing Brady Simpson and Kristian Revfiem meeting an experienced Len Adamson. In the women's matchups both teams are playing consistent squads to previous weeks with Huatoki fielding Marcella Jones, Ellen O'Byrne, Tracey Old and Chris Wilson versus Oakura's Sue Oldfield, Bailey Bruckner, Jackie Keenan and Ana Spurdle. Rai's influence in singles, with Oakura playing Simpson then Mitchell, may not be enough to sway the score line in their favour after singles, so it will likely come down to some good doubles combinations if Huatoki have any chance of toppling table leaders Oakura.
Caleb Fleming will make his debut for the season in the number one men's spot for Pukekura. He is a likely winner over Rotokare's Blair Crowley although it will be a hard hitting encounter and should Crowley come out on fire, a battle could ensue. Another close encounter is likely between David Barnard and Kyle Crowley, then Pukekura look to have a slight advantage in the men's singles at 3 and 4 with Andrew Hood and Sasha Milentijevic-Vague over Bill Husband and Alex Brebner. Pukekura's strength so far this season has been in their women's lineup. This week they are not at full strength but they still look to have an advantage over their Rotokare counterparts. Nikayla Barnard is likely to be too strong for Tania Atkinson as is Linda Reid over Chantelle Peters. At number 3, Ella Rogers plays Brittaney Carr but Rotokare is likely to pull back a match with Julie Foley over Jeanette Harding. Pukekura may therefore lead after singles but they found themselves in this position two weeks ago versus Oakura and then ended up in a sets countback to take the win over Oakura after doubles.
In the battle of the teams from the South there is likely to be some fiercely contested matches with Okaiawa/Manaia fielding a full strength men's line up. The number one men's match sees Cam Koch meet Jordan Fleming and this match is likely to set the tone with both having played for Taranaki when at their best. With David Baker, Mark Laurence and Vince Baylis to round out the Okaiawa/Manaia team versus Beauden Fleming, Jacob Gopperth and James Padilla, Okaiawa/Manaia will be hoping to end the men's singles with a lead. Nicole Bailey is likely to extend this lead in the number one women's match but there could be some closer battles in the others women's games. Currently in third place on the table, Okaiawa/Manaia will be hoping to extend this advantage over their neighbours.