18 March 2011
Sanfords Manaia awaits Stumble Inn Waiwaka at the Manaia Tennis Club on Saturday. Manaia have been the dominant force in this year's competition, thus for Waiwaka to produce an upset in the fist Semi-Final would take a very special effort, especially when taken into account Manaia have only lost one tie this season.
Manaia will front with their formidable line-up of Jordan Fleming, Cameron Koch, Jacob Gopperth, and Michael Gates for the men, and Nicole Koch, Maree Gopperth, Davina Mills, and Sarah Kelly or Grace Kelly. The Waiwaka team will look pretty familiar: David Lace, Mike Lace, Michael Goulding, Michael Lloyd, and Krystal Oakes, Michelle Lace, Jaydn Bruce, and Sharon Bruce. The No. 1 mens match between Jordan Fleming and David Lace will be in Fleming's favour, having not conceded a game the last time they met. Fleming has been the stand out male in Soffe Cup this season, having taken his game to a new level. The No. 2 match between Cameron Koch and Mike Lace will similarly be favoured by Koch. Koch won their previous match 6-2 6-3. Michael Goulding will be favoured to beat Jacob Gopperth in the No. 3 match- Goulding won 6-1 6-3 in their previous match. Michael Gates will be favoured in the No. 4 match against Michael Lloyd, having won 6-2 6-3 in their last match.
In the No. 1 womens match Nicole Koch will be favoured against Krystal Oakes. Koch beat Oakes 6-2 6-1 the last time they met. Michelle Lace will be favoured against Maree Gopperth having won their last match against each other however, Gopperth has improved out of sight since that day and will be more than competitive this time round. In the No.3 match Davina Mills will be favoured against Jaydn Bruce, they have never met before. Sharon Bruce will be favoured to peg one back for Waiwaka against Grace Kelly in the No. 4 womens match.
Manaia will be hard pressed not to continue their march towards hosting a second successive Soffe Cup final next weekend. Apart from their munificent depth in their singles- it is their strong doubles and combines that traditionally shine through in these do-or-die playoff situations.
Tariki Icon Sports Pukekura takes on Central Finance Rotokare at the Pukekura Tennis Club this Saturday. Pukekura will likely front up with their strongest line-up: Callum Old, Michael Fleming, Dennis Reid, and Tony Radich in the mens; Linda Reid, Kirsten Adam, Donna Thorne, Jeanette Harding, make up the women. For Rotokare Ben Pollard, Blair Crowley, Malcolm Elder, and Kyle Crowley will spearhead the mens attack while Karen Cranston and Tania L'Ami, make up their solid top women's pairing that has served them well this season. Beth O'Neill and Helena Goodin come into the side due to injuries to Beccie Atkins and Frances Gray.
The No.1 mens match played between Old and Pollard will test the fortitude of both players in different respects. Old has enjoyed some top wins this season; to knock off a championed competitor like Pollard in a playoff situation would cap off an impressive season. Pollard for his part has endured a frustrating season, not for want of form, but for want of match fitness. Old won their previous encounter 6-2 7-6. The No. 2 mens match played between Fleming and Blair Crowley will be hard to bet against; Fleming being the stalwart of Soffe Cup. Reid and Elder will battle each other in the No. 3 match; Elder will go in as favourite having won their previous match 7-6 6-1. Radich and Kyle Crowley will complete the mens singles, with Radich favoured.
The No. 1 womens match between Reid and Cranston will be favoured by Cranston having won their last two encounters in similar fashion. In the No. 2 women's match, Adam will be in for a real challenge to upset L'Ami whom she lost to 6-3 6-3 in the last meeting. Thorne will battle O'Neill in the No.3 match with Thorne favoured. The No. 4 match between Harding and Goodin could be a close one.
Pukekura deservedly finished in second-place after defeating Rotokare 9-7 in enemy territory in the penultimate round of the regular season. The Pukekura men's dominance was a feature of this match, as was the strong combines showing by Rotokare. If either of these trends continue into this weekend it could spell goodnight to either side's chances of advancing to the Final. Such is the tense nature of the Soffe Cup playoffs; no team can afford such callous concession of matches. This match could go either way, the difference between the teams may come down to which team wants it more.