27 Oct 2016
Soffe Cup tennis kicks off this weekend with last years finalists Bayleys Huatoki and Remax Pukekura meeting each other first up at Huatoki, with the other two semi-finalists Oakura and Central Finance Rotokare pitted against each other, rounded out by Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia playing Thomson O'Neill Stratford at Okaiawa.
Remax Pukekura are fielding a predominantly young team with David Barnard, Andrew Hood, Ray Tuenissen and a Soffe cup debut for 12 year old Sasha Milentijevic-Vague. They will meet Jayden Harrison, Murray Keast, Alistair Nairn and David Innes respectively. The change to playing on the national ranking order sees Remax Pukekura's Nikayla Barnard in the number one spot for Pukekura and she will play Marcella Jones. Also debuting for Remax Pukekura is fellow junior Ella Rogers who will meet the experienced Chris Wilson, with Kirsten Adam and Linda Reid filling the number two and three spots against Bayleys Huatoki's Ellen O'Byrne and Tracey Old. Remax Pukekura are embracing the new specialist doubles options naming Mat Garnham and Donna Thorne to be injected into the doubles line-ups. Overall it appears Bayleys Huatoki might have a slightly stronger line-up but with the injection of experience at doubles time, the result could go either way.
The Oakura vs Central Finance Rotokare clash on paper looks likely to go the way of Oakura however there could be some close matchups. Debuting for Oakura this year is tennis coach Matt Stringer at number four who will meet one of his charges, in junior Ben Fitzgibbon. Oakura are also utilising the doubles specialist option bringing in Becky Bruckner to play ladies doubles.
The final clash between Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia and Thomson and O'Neil Stratford looks to favour Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia with David Baker, Mark Laurence, Vince Baylis and Josh Murdoch all likely favourites over Sam Howard, Grant Kite, Michael Boland and Ryk Fergusson although David Baker who has previously played in the Manawatu and overseas is a bit of an unknown in the number one spot and Michael Boland if on form could also pull a game back for Stratford. Nicole Koch returns to the court for Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia as does Alesha Warner (nee Ford) and Lauren Mekalick (nee Frayne), all of whom on past playing history seem likely to beat Mylie Thwaites, Kristin Lourie and Katie Stanners however Thomson O'Neil Stratford may well have a significant chance in the number four spot with their debut junior Anna Hutterd who meets Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia's Aroha Beattie.Newcomers Pihama have the bye this first week.