25 Dec 2015
The NZ Community Trust NZ Lawn Tennis Championships which doubles as the Taranaki Open Tennis tournament has attracted high quality entries for the premier tournament played on natural grass courts. Previous winners at the Taranaki Open have been Anthony Wilding (World No.1), Chris Lewis (Wimbledon finalist), Onny Parun OBE and Jeff Robson MBE.
In the Open Men's Singles, Taranaki's Ajeet Rai is back, defending his title and the 16 year old is also attempting to be the first man to win the coveted title three times in a row in the 114-year history of the event. Rai will be the local sentimental favourite but will only be seeded No.2 as he will have to bow in the seedings to 20 year old Olly Sadler (Miramar). Sadler was a 16s singles and doubles champion at his last appearance on the Hawera grass in 2011 so the surface should hold no fears for him. The No.3 seed is Michael McGlinchey (Hutt Valley) and No.4 seed is Connor Williamson (Parnell). The exceptional field of twenty in the men's draw contains unseeded players that are capable of stealing the title such as Milo Benn (Well), Amrit Rai (Tar), Andrew Shand (HV), Jakim Malan (Well), William Hewett (HV), Paul Grubi (Akld) and Cameron Wenham (Manawatu).
A smaller but very select group of girls will vie for the Open Ladies Singles title. Following the withdrawal through injury of the top seeded, Brittany Teei, leading the way will be previous champions Bridget Dickens (2013) and Saravinder Pannu (2010) as well as Emily Murchland, Kate Bolton and Amy Galloway. Any of these girls are capable of winning this event. Taranaki will be represented by Ellen O'Byrne.
Tournament Director, Andrew Baylis, reports that the grass courts are in excellent condition and the weather forecast is very good. "Overall numbers in the tournament have risen with increases in the social events and strong quality fields in the 10-18 year old age groups. The 16s and 18s especially have some of the top NZ talent on display."Play starts on 27th Dec for the age groups and followed a day later by the beginning of the adult grade draws. Play will be continuous from 9am each day, 27th - 30th December with free entry to the public.