4 Feb 2011

The long awaited return of Soffe Cup has finally arrived with no time to waste for the teams chasing a playoff berth and home semi-final.  Only three rounds remain of the regular season thus points are at a premium as the season draws closer to the knockout stage.
 

Hareb Deken Oakura host AWE Huatoki at the Oakura courts on Saturday as the sixth and fifth placed teams respectively do battle.

The No. 1 mens match promises to be a terrific encounter as Graham Mitchell takes on Chris Popata.  The last meeting ended in a three set epic victory to Mitchell.  The No. 1 womens match will be between Sue Oldfield and Alice Caskey, with Caskey favoured after beating Oldfield in the first round.  The No. 2 mens match will be Josh or Tei Walden versus Amrit Rai or David Geange, while the women's No.2 match will be between Miaana Walden and Chris Wilson.  Oakura will be a tough prospect at home for the visiting New Plymouth club; the tie will be won in the doubles and combines. The singles will be evenly shared.  The team that can bring together the most cohesive doubles partnerships will take the points in this tie.

 

Stumble Inn Waiwaka plays Tariki Icon Sports Pukekura in a match where Waiwaka will be eager to capitalise on home advantage to avenge the previous round's loss to Pukekura 9-7.  David Lace will play Callum Old at No.1- the last match between these two was won by Old 7-5 6-1.  The No.2 match will be between Tony Radich and Mike Lace, with Lace having got the better of Radich 7-6 6-2 in the first round.

The No.1 womens match will be played between Krystal Oakes and Linda Reid- Reid won the last match 3-6 6-2 7-6- expect another close tussle between these two.

Michelle Lace will take on either Donna Thorne or Kirsten Adam in the No. 2 ladies match with Thorne having beaten Lace 6-3 6-2 the last time they met.  Waiwaka clinched 5 of the 8 doubles matches on offer last meeting- Waiwaka will need a similar performance to stay in touch with the competition's second-placed team as Pukekura's strength this season lies in their singles depth.  Pukekura will start as favourites to edge out another close win on Saturday.
 

Sanfords Manaia meets Central Finance Rotokare in the final match of the round played between the first and third placed teams respectively.

Manaia will be preposterously prepared to put some distance between them and the chasing pack in the final three rounds as they have the luxury of two of the final three rounds being at home.  Manaia beat Rotokare 10-6 in the last round in New Plymouth.

The No.1 mens match will be Jordan Fleming or Cameron Koch against Blair Crowley with Manaia favoured in it.  Koch or Michael Gates will play the No. 2 match against Malcolm Elder.  Elder would be favoured against Gates but not Koch.

The No. 1 women's match between Nicole Koch and Karen Cranston will be a quality match.  Koch struggled to dispatch her opponent in the first round- coming back from a set down to beat Cranston 2-6 6-2 7-6, but Koch will be more at home on the Manaia hard courts and will be favoured in this rematch.

The No.2 match will be between Sarah Kelly and Tania L'Ami.  L'Ami took the competition by storm in the first round and will be hard to beat yet again for Kelly this Saturday, although Kelly will be buoyed by the home court advantage and familiarity of her opponent this time round.

This match could be decided early on in the singles if Rotokare aren't on their game from the outset and so will need to keep it close all day to be a chance of upsetting Manaia.