31 October 2009

If the opening round’s results of Soffe Cup are anything to go by, Taranaki’s premier grade is in for a stellar season. No more than 2 games could separate any of the three fixtures on show on the weekend indicating the teams are all very evenly matched.


Central Finance Rotokare escaped Saturday’s encounter against Stumble Inn Waiwaka with a 9-7 victory at home. This match lived up to its expectations of intrigue as Waiwaka tested Rotokare from the very outset. Mike Lace initiated the challenge in the singles taking the prized scalp of Ben Pollard 2-6 6-3 7-6. David Lace and Michael Lloyd followed suit with the sole resistance in the Rotokare’s men’s line-up coming from Buzz Campbell, resolute in his three valuable wins for the home side.

Rotokare’s top two women Catherine Stevenson and Karen Cranston showed character picking up two imperative wins to stay in touching distance going into the doubles. Meanwhile Waiwaka’s Melissa Wong and Shuna Giles both earned impressive three-set victories over Beccie Atkins and Helena Goodin respectively. The doubles proved the decisive moment- Rotokare catching Waiwaka on its heels to take all four ties and the decisive advantage into the mixed which were squared two even. Ben Pollard and Blair Crowley avenged their single’s defeats with an authoritative performance over Mike Lace and David Lace in the top doubles 6-2 6-4.


In a tight tussle between two steadfastly determined sides Hareb Deken Oakura edged out a deserved 9-7 win over AWE Huatoki in superb conditions. The opening singles were shared 2 a piece in the men’s section, with notable performances coming from John Hardie Boys whom grinded out a hard-fought 7-6 6-2 victory over Amrit Rai, and David Innes who displayed all his experience to absorb a spirited challenge from Teihorangi Walden, 6-3 7-5. Oakura collected 3 of the 4 women’s singles to be 5-3 ahead into the doubles. Huatoki’s women turned the tide in the doubles, however to take both ties 6-3 7-6 and 7-6 6-2 respectively.

The defining act in this match came in the combines with the two teams tied at 6-6. Oakura showed their class to emerge victorious in three of the four ties. Huatoki’s sole mixed doubles win came from dynamic duo Saori Han and Neil Bridgeman 9-8. John Hardie Boys and Saori Han were the select pair to win all their 3 matches.


Sanford’s Manaia and Tariki Icons Pukekura added another chapter to their classic rivalry over the weekend with the tie going down to the wire. Michael Fleming signalled Pukeura’s intentions early with a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Jordan Fleming.

Callum Old then showcased his potential at No. 2 for Pukekura in a 6-2 7-5 win over Jacob Gopperth. Conversely Manaia’s three debutants Tommy Death, Sarah Kelly, and Grace Kelly performed admirably, each collecting a precious point for their side. Death acquitted himself extremely well in an immense comeback against Paul Simpson 1-6 6-4 7-6. Grace Kelly also performed superlatively to secure a straight sets victory over Jeanette Harding, while Sarah Kelly teamed up with Nicole Koch in the doubles to beat top pairing Linda Reid and Donna Thorne 6-3 7-5.Thorne along with Kirsten Adams however underlined their indispensability to the Pukekura side with 5 of the 7 points amassed courtesy of their efforts.

With the singles shared, the doubles inevitably carried extra significance- once again it was to prove the difference in this match where Manaia was able to gain an ascendancy from which they were not to relent. Jordan Fleming and Jacob Gopperth defeated Mike Fleming and Callum Old 7-6 5-7 7-6 in what was perhaps the turning point of the clash between the two sides. Despite Pukekura’s best efforts in the combines, Manaia were able to achieve two valuable victories to seal the tie.