1 Feb 2013

After a hot summer layoff, Soffe Cup tennis kicks off again this Saturday with AWE Huatoki away to Sandfords Manaia, Icon's Sport Tariki Pukekura host Central Finance Rotokare, and Hareb Deken Oakura are at home to Farmlands Okaiawa.

There are three rounds left of play before the semis and final, with the top three Pukekura, Manaia and Huatoki virtually assured of semifinal places. The final spot will be hotly contested by the bottom three teams. 

Unfortunately the call of the 'sevens' have robbed Manaia of their top men and women, with Jordan Fleming, Cameron Koch, Jacob Gopperth and Nicole Koch all missing.  Maree Gopperth is now coaching in Australia, which will give a near full strength Huatoki a good chance to take a win and earn valuable points towards the semis.  Huatoki women's line-up will be at full strength with Alice Caskey and Sophie Robertson likely to play Grace Kelly and Trudy Vince respectively.  Chris Wilson at 3 will take on Sarah Kelly while Manaia's Bridgid Annabell will make her Soffe debut at 4 against Huatoki's junior rep, Ellen O'Byrne.  Huatoki's men's side will be just as tough with the return to competition of Ajeet Rai who has been at the Bollitieri Tennis Academy for three months prior to Christmas.  He  will play at 2 behind his brother Amrit, their likely Manaia opponents;  Michael Gates at 1 and Beauden Fleming at 2, will be hard pressed to win.  Alastair Nairn and Thomas Burrell at 3 and 4 for Huatoki will likely play Josh Murdoch and Blake Kalin from Manaia's lower grades, with a win to Huatoki on the cards.

Pukekura is at full strength and should have an easy ride against an under-strength Rotokare.  Rotokare's No 1 Malcolm Elder will take on Pukekura's Callum Old, who has been out of sorts this season, but can fire at any time.  Rotokare captain, Shane Devlin  and young Cole Hareb at No.2 and No.3 will have an uphill battle against Pukekura's Mike Fleming and Chris Jury respectively. Veteran Laurie Jordan at no.4, will test Pukekura's Jamie Simpson, but not for long.  Rotokare's Karen Cranston is back at No.1 and will be a good test for the well performed Louise Waite.  Frances Gray has been improving over the season and will give Kirsten Adam a good run around.  Rotokare's Beccie Atkins and Helena Goodin will give it their all against Linda Reid and Donna Thorne respectively, but the Pukekura pair will likely prevail.  Pukekura are expected to be too strong in the doubles and combines. 

The Battle of the O's went very close last round, with Oakura prevailing 9-7.  Men's No.1's, Oakura's Graeme Mitchell will play Okaiawa's Andrew Powell with Mitchell likely to carry his good form through from round 1. Oakura's Len Adamson will be competitive against Mark Laurence, while 'lefty' Vincent Baylis is expected to be too strong for Oakura's Cory Sutherland.  Ryan Stockman should win against Scott Johnson.  In the women's, Oakura has Sue Oldfield back at No 1 and she will play Okaiawa's No 1, Amelia Weir.  Both players have been in mixed form and this one could go either way.  Oakura's Jackie Keenan and Rebecca Scott should have the wood on Jo Gyde and Beth MacLeod respectively.  At 4 unknown plays Vicki Roberts.  The doubles and combines could go either way.