2 March 2012

For the optimists there will be a winner of the Soffe Cup at the end of play Saturday.  For the pessimist, it will be by the end of play Sunday.  With a weather warning hanging over Taranaki for Saturday, the two finalists, Icon's Sport Tariki Pukekura and Sandfords Manaia, will be ensuring that each member of their squads are available for both days.  The rules are that should the final be rained off on Saturday, it must be played on Sunday. 

There really are only two matches that are a "shoe-in" with Nicole Koch (Manaia) set to win again, although her opponent Linda Reid will be hoping to finish her season on a positive note.    Pukekura's Chris Jury has only lost the one match this season (when he stepped up to two to play Cameron Koch of Manaia in the first round).  Jury at three will be a tough day out for Michael Gates.  The rest of the singles could go either way on their day.  Manaia's Jordan Fleming and Pukekura's Callum Old are one a piece this season.  The first round saw Old the victor with a somewhat surprising large margin (6-1 6-1).  Second round went to Fleming but not easily (6-1 7-5).  Youngster Old will be fancying his chance to beat Taranaki's No 1.  The match to watch this weekend will be Cameron Koch (Manaia) and Michael Fleming (Pukekura).  These two haven't played each other this season and Koch's style versus Fleming's tenacity will make for an interesting show.   Koch will be looking to inflict the same defeat as his 6-2 6-3 win against Fleming last season.  At four, 16s Representative Jaimie Simpson (Pukekura) will play Tommy Death (Manaia).  Hard to pick a winner in this match as they haven't played each other before.  Simpson has had a great debuting season in Soffe Cup whilst Death has been on the scene for a while. 

Kirsten Adam (Pukekura) and Maree Gopperth (Manaia) will no doubt be at two for the ladies.    Due to player absences, we haven't seen these players match up this season.  Adam may have a bit more match-play this side of the New Year under her belt and consistency may be the key.  12 year old Louise Waite will be on a high after her successful weekend.  Waite, was invited to the 2012 Tennis Central MASTERS.  Only the top 6 children within Tennis Central of each age group are invited for a round robin tournament.    Waite won all of her matches, ensuring her spot as number 1 for Tennis Central in the Inter-Districts later this year.  Waite (Pukekura) will play at three and possibly play Grace Kelly (Manaia).  Again, these girls haven't found themselves on a court opposing each other, so quite hard to pick an outcome.  The battle of the No 4's will see Jeanette Harding (Pukekura) playing Trudy Neilsen, who also haven't played each other this season. Neilsen had a good show against Pukekura's Kirsten Adam a couple of weeks back, fighting back in the second set to lose6-2 7-5 to Adam.    Neilsen will need to produce a similar performance when playing Harding.   

Finals means Doubles and Combined Doubles are played.  Manaia should be playing their doubles in the usual order.  1 and 2 together with 3 and 4 together, as Pukekura will no doubt do also.  Top men's doubles between Jordan Fleming and Koch (Manaia) against Old and Michael Fleming (Pukekura) really can't be predicted.  Jordan Fleming and Koch should win this on paper, but it is finals day!  Bottom men's doubles with Jury and Simpson against Gates and Death would have to be leaning towards the city side.  Jury's experience and Simpson's speed will be tough to beat.  The Ladies top doubles clash between Koch / Gopperth (Manaia) and Reid / Adam, in contrast, would be leaning toward the southern side.  Reid and Adam will have to be playing a great game to win this one.  Bottom Ladies of Kelly / Neilsen (Manaia) against Waite / Harding (Pukekura) could go either way with this writer "sitting on the fence".   

Combines could be the deciding matches.  There hasnít been too much consistency in the combinations in either squad.  The pairing that can been predicated will be Jordan Fleming and Nicole Koch (Manaia) at one against Callum Old and Kirsten Adam (Pukekura).  Manaia would be banking on a win in this match.  At two Cameron Koch and Maree Gopperth (Manaia) will play Michael Fleming and Linda Reid (Pukekura).  The Pukekura pair have played together for several seasons and their combined experience will equate to a tight match that could go either way.  The bottom combination is even harder to predict.   

Play starts at Pukekura Park Tennis Club, 10am Saturday with Singles matches first.  If raining Saturday, play will commence 10am Sunday.