24 Dec 2004

Taranaki Tennis Open Dec 27-Dec 30 2004

In the absence of  3-time singles winner, Gareth Ballantine (due to injury), there is a strong field of contenders for the title.  Number one seed is big-serving Oliver Petri (Hutt Valley), who has been playing overseas for the past 6 months and makes a reappearance to the natural grass courts of Hawera.  Second seed is Taranakiís own, Aaron Hine, a two-time Open Doubles winner.  Third seed Daniel Baxter (Hutt Valley) and fourth seed Ivan Mendoza (Well.) head a list of six players who are currently playing in the Bundaberg Ginger Beer National 18ís Championships at North Harbour.  Eleven of the 16-strong field are from outside Taranaki. 

In the Menís Open Doubles, Oliver Petri teams up with Ivan Mendoza but there will be strong opposition from three Taranaki pairings of Aaron Hine & Zachary Wills, Chris Patten & Max Ladame (last years finalists) and Grant Gopperth & Jeremy Moore, every one of which is a former titleholder or finalist. 

The Womenís Open singles sees the return of top-seed Gayle Tapper (Akld) to defend the title she won last year.  Pushing her hard for the title will be Nicole Koch (Manaia), who narrowly lost to Gayle Tapper in a semi-final last year.  

In the 16 Boys event, top seed Zachary Wills (NP), defends the title he won last year, against a strong field of nationally ranked juniors.  Main opposition is expected to be Kurt McNamara (Manawatu). 

An international flavour exists in the other age group competitions with brothers, 13yo Rasmus Svard & 11yo Melker Svard.  Rasmus is ranked No.8 in Sweden for his age and younger brother Melker is ranked within the top 20 in his age group. 

The tournament starts on Monday 27th for age groups, Tuesday 28th for adult grades and runs through to Thursday.