18 March 2010
The Final showdown is set between Sanfords Manaia and AWE Huatoki at the Manaia Tennis Club this Saturday.
These two teams have taken differing paths on the road to the final. AWE Huatoki began the season slightly off the pace, having to wait till the fourth round to secure their first win of the season. After breaking that duck Huatoki gathered momentum to take the competition lead after the first weekend of the second round. Huatoki held that post till Manaia humbled them in the final round of the regular season. Huatoki just managed to hold on to a home semi-final which paid dividends last weekend beating Hareb Deken Oakura 11-5.
Sanfords Manaia by contrast started imperiously- racing through the first round of ties unbeaten to perch at the top of the table. Manaia were then dealt a shock defeat to Tariki Icon Sports Pukekura, which compounded by a rain out against Stumble Inn Waiwaka led to them being superseded at the top. Despite these setbacks Manaia responded by defeating Huatoki in New Plymouth to reclaim top spot. Manaia were given a shock in last weekend's semi-final against Central Finance Rotokare and did extremely well to come back after being in a tight situation after the singles to win 8-8 (18 sets to 17).
Manaia certainly have the head-to-head momentum against the New Plymouth club having prevailed 9-7 and 12-4 on the two occasions the teams have met this season.
In the first meeting Huatoki looked likely after the singles, only to be reigned in by a supreme doubles performance by Manaia before rain set in at 7-5 with the final combines shared. Manaia completely dominated the second meeting by comparison in a complete performance.
As one would expect both teams are desperate to field their best teams for the biggest match of the season. Manaia's No.1 man Cameron Koch has been working in Taupo and thus will be an unknown likelihood as to whether he makes it back in time. If he should end up being unable to play, Jordan Fleming will again take over the spot as No.1 man as he did so exceedingly well against Rotokare last week. Having dropped only 5 games in the entire day in the Semi-Final he will be a key asset to his team come this Saturday. Jason Mills, Michael Gates, and subject to Cameron Koch’s status, Tommy Death or Jacob Gopperth could make up the fourth spot in the men's line-up.
Manaia will field their strongest women’s line-up of Nicole Koch, Ginny Death, Sarah Kelly and Maree Gopperth.
Huatoki have the good fortune of their squad at full strength- Jonathan Ussher, Neil Bridgeman, Amrit Rai, and David Geange will be the first time this season they will have come together as a four due to various mitigating circumstances. Saori Han, Alice Caskey, Chris Wilson, and Janice Taylor will hope to continue the good form they showed last weekend in the Semi Final.
A great deal in terms of team dynamics and head-to-head match ups will hinge on whether Cameron Koch plays; he has a healthy rivalry with Huatoki's No. 1 Jonathan Ussher, and a repeat match between these two would be a match to savour. Jordan Fleming would then be pitted against the guile of Neil Bridgeman at No. 2. The emerging star of Fleming against the consummate big-match player in Bridgeman would be of priceless value.
The top women's tie will be between Nicole Koch and Saori Han. Koch won a tense match 7-6 3-6 7-6 in their last meeting. The No. 2 ladies match will be between Ginny Death and Alice Caskey. Caskey won their last match 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
Play will begin at 10:00am at Manaia Tennis Club, on Saturday 20 March.
The Wilson Trophy and Sumpter Trophy A
Grade competitions will be playing their Semi-Finals this weekend.
In the Wilson Trophy, top qualifiers Hawera will host fourth-placed Stratford. Second-placed Inglewood will host third-placed Okaiawa.
In the Sumpter Trophy first-placed Huatoki will host Rotokare. Second-placed Hawera will host Okaiawa.