24 Dec 2012

2012 REAL SPORTS Taranaki Tennis Open preview

Dec 27-Dec 30 2012  

Both the men's and womenís singles champions from last year return to defend their titles at the REAL SPORTS Taranaki Tennis Open based at the Hawera Lawn Tennis Club in Albion Street.

No. 1 seed and defending champion, Jono Hurley, returns from Sydney to attempt to build on last years' victory.  The Hurley family now farms in the Wairarapa but before that were based in South Taranaki.

Keeping the Taranaki flag to the fore is the No.2 seed, Manaiaís Cameron Koch.  Koch only lost to Hurley in an epic three-set semi-final last year and is quite capable of reversing last yearís outcome to pick up his first Taranaki Open singles title.

To get through to a finals matchup however, both men will need to dispel the challenges of twelve other contenders including Tony Lovesday (Auckland), William Yip (Bay of Plenty), Tony Careswell (Waikato), Tim Low (Brisbane) and Badem Stevenson (Sydney).  Taranaki is further represented by Andrew Powell, David Geange, Mark Laurence and the Simpson brothers, Jaime and Brady.

Missing from the Open Menís singles draw will be 5-times winner, Frayne Bloor (formerly of Hawera).  Brisbane-based tennis coach, Bloor, has been suffering from a wrist injury for the past 5 months and whilst playing in the Doubles, feels that a return to singles play at this stage of his recovery will be "a bridge too far".

In the Open Ladies singles, Manaia's Nicole Koch will be gunning for her fourth title in 8 years.  Chasing her for the title is an all-Taranaki affair of Maree Gopperth, Frances Gray, Alice Caskey and Sophie Robertson.  Koch could almost certainly have racked up more victories over the last 5 years but hasnít always been available.  During one of those absences, current female tennis sensation, Paige Hourigan (15), took out the title aged just eleven.  That obvious talent has culminated this week with Hourigan winning the NZ Junior singles title, runner-up in the Pascoes NZ Tennis Championships and inclusion in NZís Federation Cup squad.

The Taranaki pairing of Cameron Koch and defending doubles champion, Mike Fleming (Pukekura Park) are the top seeds in the Menís Open Doubles.  Fleming will be attempting to win his 7th Open Doubles title; the first of which he achieved before Koch was even born.  No. 2 seeds will be Jono Hurley and his Sydney team-mate Badem Stevenson.  Others with a real chance to upset are Frayne Bloor and Tim Low (Brisbane) as well as the Auckland pairing of Louis Friel and Tony Loveday.

Top seeds in the Ladies Doubles are Nicole Koch and Manawatu teenager Shenae Salisbury and they will have competition from the likes of Taranaki's Alice Caskey and Frances Gray.

New champions will be crowned in the Open Combined Doubles event, as last years' winners havenít returned.  Heading the list are hot favourites, siblings Cameron and Nicole Koch, both of whom could have very good tournaments.  The No.2 seeds are another Manaia pairing, father and daughter, Grant and Maree Gopperth.  Other notable pairings are Taranaki representatives, Andrew Powell and Amelia Weir (both Okaiawa) along with fellow rep player Alice Caskey (Huatoki) and her Waikato partner Tony Careswell.  The Combined Doubles is renowned for unseeded combinations winning the event but this yearís contest looks straightforward on paper.

Good size fields have entered for the age group contests (10 years Ė 18 years) and with the REAL SPORTS Taranaki Open being a leg of the Tennis Central Points race, juniors have entered from around the lower North Island to accumulate points for that series.

Twenty Australians add an international flavour to the tournament throughout both junior and adult ranks and will threaten to take away some of the silverware.  

The "Real Sports" Taranaki Tennis Open starts on Dec 27th with the 10, 14 and 18 age groups, followed by the 12s, 16s and adult age groups on the 28th.  Complimentary events such as the 'B' and Social events are well supported and this tournament provides one of the few opportunities on the calendar where parents can team up with their children. 

Play begins daily from 9am on the natural grass courts at the Hawera Lawn Tennis & Squash Club facilities on Albion St, Hawera with free entry to the public.  If play is threatened by rain, the tournament may move indoors to the TSB Hub at Hawera.



Open Mens Singles: 1-Jono Hurley (Wair)), 2- Cameron Koch (Tar)

Open Menís Doubles: 1-Fleming/Koch, 2-Hurley/Stevenson (Aus)

Open Ladies Singles: 1-Nicole Koch (Tar), 2- Alice Caskey (Tar)

18 Boys: 1-Thomas Burrell (Tar), 2-Haydn Hedges (Aus)

18 Girls: 1-Alice Caskey (Tar), 2-Shenae Salisbury (Manawatu)

16 Boys:  1-Hamish Mead (Tar), 2- Brady Simpson (Tar)

16 Girls: 1- Shenae Salisbury (Manawatu), 2-Sophie Robertson (Tar)

14 Boys: 1- Hamish Mead (Tar), 2-Logan Amey (Manawatu)

14 Girls: 1- Shenae Salisbury (Manawatu), 2-Ellen O'Byrne (Tar)

12 Boys: 1- Kurt Amey (Manawatu), 2-Filip Pavkovic (Well)

12 Girls: 1-Hikaru Han (Tar), 2-Gemma Loveday (Auck)

10 Boys: 1-James Loveday (Auck), 2-Jayden Harrison (Tar)

Tournament Controller: Andrew Baylis, Cell: 027 4965 672