30 December 2022

Ladies Singles Champion not yet a teenager.

Menís Singles Final an all-Taranaki affair.

The 2022 Taranaki Open Ladies Championship singles title was won by an eleven year old for the third time in 15 years.  Aliyah Daly (Christchurch) was a convincing winner of the final defeating 13 year old Lara Power (Manawatu) 6-1 6-4.

Daly completed the match with an ultra-consistent performance proving to be the difference over Powerís more aggressive game.  Whilst pushing for the firmer shots, Power also made more mistakes, allowing Daly to quickly wrap up the first set.  Adjusting her game to choose better shot selections, Power was back in the hunt and twice led the second set.  However, Powerís service games let her down, being broken twice and allowed Daly to draw level at 4-4 before holding her serve and breaking serve once again to secure the victory.

Daly made her way to the final via a semi-final victory over Lucy Zhou (North Harbour) 6-2 6-0, whilst Power made her way to the final defeating Taranakiís Jorja Symes 6-3 6-1.

The first eleven years old female to win the Taranaki Open, in 2008, was now current New Zealand No.1 Paige Hourigan.  The feat was repeated in 2020 by Aucklandís Boidehi Ukil.   

The Taranaki Open was played in Stratford for the first time, since Hawera made their courts unavailable at late notice, without providing any reasoning.  Stratford turned on arguably the best four days of weather the entire year, proving a boon for players and spectators alike, with the picturesque mountain an immediate backdrop.

The Menís Championship Singles final was an all-Taranaki affair and an epic match.  Hamish Mead, no.1 seed (Okaiawa) and Callum Old, no.2 seed (Stratford) played through the temperature peak of the day and were physically exhausted at the end of their match.  Old began strongly, winning decisive rallies with punishing forehands into the corners, keeping Mead on the back foot throughout the first set.   Mead can be a slow starter at times and Old made full use of this fact, taking the first set 6-4.

Mead now had to rally to stay in the match and the second set went with serve until Mead was able to obtain a service break late to take the set 7-5.  This set the scene for an exciting climax in the third set where, despite the heat, both players gave their all, in attempting to claim their first Open menís singles title.

Both players went shot for shot to a 5-4 advantage to Mead.  Mead secured a break point on Oldís serve and therefore a match point, but Old was able to snuff the chance and hold serve to make it 5-5.  It was then Meadís turn to offer up opportunities via two break points which he somehow managed to survive and lead 6-5.  Inexplicitly, Oldís next service game was not up to his own high standard and he again allowed Mead to dominate, offering him a match point which he converted, giving the 24 year old the victory.

Mead is a former New Zealand Age Group winner having picked up a 14U Doubles title.  He has also previously won the Taranaki Open 14U and 16U singles titles along with an Open Doubles title.

The Open Ladies Doubles title went the way of Abby Ross and Jorja Symes, who both represent Okaiawa in the Soffe Cup competition.  Luke de Villiers (Rotokare) defended his 2021 Open Menís Doubles title, pairing this time with Callum Old, defeating the Christchurch father/son pairing of Julian and Tasman Daly 6-2 6-3.

Callum Old gained more consolation after losing the singles final, by winning the Open Combined Doubles title with Tenzin Joe (Pukekura) 6-1 6-0 over the Christchurch pairing of Aliyah and Julian Daly.

In the B Menís doubles, journeyman Len Adamson (Oakura) was able to roll back the years and secure the title in partnership with Brad Dowdle (Okaiawa).  They defeated Alastair Murdoch (Okaiawa) and Melbourne son-in-law Dan Micevski 5-7 6-4 11-9, despite Murdoch/Micevski leading the match tiebreak 9-6.     

The Tier 3 Taranaki Open Junior events highlighted a Taranaki talent with Luke Barrett (Oakura) securing the 12U singles and doubles titles.  The 14U boys singles title was won by Eejin Tay (Christchurch) over last yearís champion Liam Youn (North Harbour) 7-5 7-5, reversing a loss to the same player at the New Zealand Championships.