27 Jan 2017
The summer sun has arrived just in time for the return of Taranaki's Soffe cup tennis to courts around the region today. Last year's champions Huatoki sneaked into the lead of the Soffe cup table in the final round of 2016 and they will host Rotokare. Oakura will host Pukekura and the battle of the south between Pihama and Okaiawa/Manaia will this time be hosted by Pihama (at Manaia).
Huatoki and Rotokare are fielding consistent line-ups to their first round meeting with Huatoki's Jayden Harrison and Alistair Nairn playing Blair and Kyle Crowley. Both these games last time went Huatoki's way but were hard fought battles although Huatoki has home court advantage this time. Murray Keast will meet Buzz Campbell and Rotokare are yet to name a fourth male to play Huatoki's Kristian Revfiem. Huatoki's women have all had to move up a slot with Marcella Jones currently injured so Ellen O'Byrne, Tracey Old and Chris Wilson will meet Tania Atkinson, Brittaney Carr and Chantelle Peters with Huatoki yet to name a fourth women to play Julie Foley. Huatoki will hope to lead the score after singles but it could depend on who fills those final spots and Rotokare's strength in doubles cannot be underestimated so the tie could be close.
The South battle between Pihama and Okaiawa/Manaia is being played at Manaia. Pihama's mens line-up is led by Jordan and Beauden Fleming and they look likely to dominate Mark Laurence and Ryan Stockman. Patrick Stevenson and James Padilla round out the Pihama men's team and will meet Andrew Baylis and Peter Mihaljevich. In the women's, Paris Butters is likely to be untroubled by Carolyn Jackson with Pihama fielding Grace Kelly, Tara Butters and Brianna Matthews to play Lauren Mekalick, Aroha Beattie and Georgia Jackson. Overall, Pihama look to be stronger than Okaiawa/Manaia on the day and are unlikely to pass them on the leader board.The final tie between Oakura and Pukekura could well go down to the wire. Oakura's Jaime and Brady Simpson will play David Barnard and Mike Erb with likely wins to the Simpsons. The other two men's games see Len Adamson play Andrew Hood and Simon Spurdle face Sasha Milentijevic-Vague. It would take a strong effort from Spurdle to counter Vague who recently got into the top 8 in his 12 and under National age group champs in Auckland. Pukekura have their top women's line-up of Louise Waite, Nikayla Barnard, Kirsten Adam and Linda Reid and it will be difficult to see where they will lose games with this line-up against Sue Oldfield, Bailey Bruckner, Miaana Walden and Ana Spurdle. The tie looks likely to favour Pukekura after singles however last time these two teams met produced some interesting doubles results and resulted in a countback on games so the overall score could be tight.