31 Dec 2011

Hurley's final hoodoo lifted

30 Dec

It was on a basketball court rather than his favoured grass, and there was the added pressure of faltering in the final before, but Jono Hurley overcame it all to score a straight sets victory in the Taranaki Tennis Open yesterday.

Rain in Hawera again forced the competitors inside to the TSB Hub for the men's open singles final, but Hurley handled the disruption to overcome a game Tristan Stayt 6-2, 6-4.

While a contest between the No1 and No2 seeds had been the anticipated final match pre-tournament, Hurley had hard work getting there.

Earlier in the day's semifinals he had to lift to get past Manaia's Cameron Koch 6-7 6-4 10-7. New Plymouth's Stayt beat Auckland's David Jiang 7-5 6-4.

For the final, the now Sydney-based coach Hurley warmed to his task by the fourth game, getting his timing going and making some good shots at the net.

He struggled occasionally off his first serve, but still sent down a couple of aces. Hurley said afterwards he was sure Stayt - with his sporting scholarship experience from Virginia's Liberty University - would come back at him, and so it proved.

Stayt took the first few games of the second set, winning some very impressive rallies. Chastising himself for some loose shots, Hurley refocused and got his rhythm back, seeing off Stayt's last-ditch rally to slam an ace during the final game.

Collecting his trophy, Hurley told the crowd he would be back next year and it was a relief to have his final hoodoo lifted. "My fourth final, so I'm happy to finally get my name on the trophy. There's some pretty awesome names on it, so it's cool to be there as well."

The wet weather had disappointed Hurley, as the former Patea man would have loved to play on his favoured grass at the Hawera Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. "It's tough [to adjust], but everyone had to play on the same surface. I got through it so I'm happy."

The 18 years boys' singles title went to New Plymouth's Amrit Rai after he beat Wellington's Luke Piercey 9-2.

In the women's open doubles, Huatoki and Rotokare club members Alice Caskey and Frances Gray upset 2010 champions Jane and Saravinder Pannu 9-8 in a pulsating final. Caskey and Gray won the tie break 11-9 and saved match point five times to take the title.

In the Men's Doubles, top seeds Mike Fleming and Tristan Stayt (both New Plymouth) cruised through to the final with a comfortable win over Wellington twins Luke and Sam Piercey 9-4.  In the other semi-final, the New Plymouth pairing of Jono Ussher and Amrit Rai upset the No.2 seeds from France, Gilles DeGouy and Lucian Lemay 9-8(2).  In the final, the overall skill of the younger Stayt and the court wisdom and experience of Fleming proved over-powering to their opposition, winning 9-2.  This is Stayt's first Open doubles title and Mike Fleming's 6th Open doubles title.  Fleming's first title was achieved when Stayt was 2 months old. 

The Open Combined Doubles title was taken out by Luke Piercey/Saravinder Pannu (Well) when they were gifted the title after their opposition in the final had to default due to New Year commitments. 

The Social Combined Doubles title was another victory for young Taranaki players, when Jaime Simpson and Alice Caskey defeated Wellington's Mark Parsonage and Phoebe Anderson 9-3.


29 Dec 

Rain made the biggest splash on the Taranaki Tennis Open yesterday as players swapped their grass court games for inside hard-court match-ups in Hawera.

Games were moved from the Hawera Lawn Tennis and Squash Club facilities indoors to the TSB Hub as rain fell consistently through the day.

The semifinalists were still found in the men's open singles. No1 seed Jono Hurley will face Manaia's Cameron Koch, and Auckland's David Jiang will play New Plymouth's Tristan Stayt, the No2 seed.

All four made it through their quarterfinals in straight sets.

Previously from South Taranaki and now of Wairarapa, Hurley beat Jono Ussher 6-1, 6-4, while Koch bested Wellington's Dominic Miller 6-1 6-3.

The other side of the draw saw Stayt beat New Plymouth's Amrit Rai 6-0 6-3 and Jiang stopped Stratford's Callum Old 6-3 6-2.

The semifinals will be played today outside on the grass, weather permitting, with an 11am start, and the final about 12.30pm.

If it is raining, the games will be held in the Hub with a start time of about 10am.

In other games, Manaia's Nicole Koch won her third Taranaki Open women's singles title, beating 2010 winner Saravinder Pannu, of Wellington, in what proved the match of the tournament so far.

After dropping the first set, Koch came back to take the final 3-6 7-5 6-4.

Pannu rebounded to win the 18 girls' singles section, beating Huatoki club member Alice Caskey 9-4 in the final.

Wellington's Tamara Anderson was the 12 girls' singles winner, beating New Plymouth's Hikaru Han 9-5.

Other Taranaki results: 10 boys' singles: Caleb Fleming; 10 boys' plate: Kobe Sinclair; 12 boys' plate: Tim Neild; 12 girls' plate: Poppy Mitchell; 12 girls' doubles: Alexandra Spurdle/Tamara Anderson; 14 boys' plate: Cory Sutherland; 14 boys' doubles: Ajeet Rai/Kiranpal Pannu; 16 boys' plate: Brady Simpson.