3 March 2018
Semi-finalists Decided for Taranaki Tennis.
The last round of Taranaki A grade tennis concluded on Saturday and the semi-finalists were decided. Oakura will play Pukekura, and Huatoki will take on Rotokare.
The last round saw Huatoki dominate Oakura 13-3. After the singles Huatoki led 6-2 with Oakura’s Becky Bruckner and Taylor Mitchell being the only players to halt the Huatoki onslaught. By the end of the doubles Huatoki had already carried the day with an unassailable 9-3 lead going into the mixed doubles. Huatoki were in no mood to take their foot off the throttle and won all four combines.
Rotokare only just managed to squeeze past Okaiawa/Manaia 9-7. It was a close score line; typified by the match between Rotokare’s Baxter Rogers and Okaiawa/Manaia’s Josh Murdoch. The final score saw Murdoch just edge out Rogers 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5. Okaiawa/Manaia will be ruing the three matches they had to give up by default with a player missing for the women. It has been a solid season for Okaiawa/Manaia who remained competitive throughout the season.
Pihama defaulted against Pukekura.
Looking to the semi-final match ups it is hard to say how they will play out.
Oakura’s line up will look a lot different for the semi-finals, where it seems likely that Jamie Simpson and Graeme Mitchell will come back into the team. These men’s match ups will be made even more interesting by the question mark hanging over whether Caleb Fleming will choose to play for Pukekura or not. If Fleming is unavailable then Pukekura’s men will struggle to match very effectively with a full strength Oakura line up. This could be negated by the power of Louise Waite and Nikayla Barnard at the top of the women’s order for Pukekura. Both clubs will be pulling out all the stops to make the final.
In the other semi-final Rotokare will be favourites. This is dependent on the club being able to field its strongest team. Ajeet Rai should be available, which will make a huge difference to Rotokare’s men. However, it seems unlikely that the club’s top woman, Leela Beattie, will be available. This may give Huatoki the opening they need.
The Wilson Trophy has also found its semi-finalists. Stratford will do battle with Hawera and Inglewood will meet Pukekura. Form suggests that the final should be between Stratford and Inglewood.
In the Sumpter Trophy the semi-finals will see Waitara face off with Waiwaka. In the other semi-final, South Combined will host Pukekura Yellow.It will be a big weekend of tennis.