6 Nov 2014

Huatoki make their charge to retain the Soffe Cup when they take the court for the first time following their first round bye.  Huatoki will host newcomers Thomson O'Neil Stratford and the visitors are unlikely to get any respite from the stiffness of Soffe Cup-level play.  After losing their first round match 15-1, it is difficult to see where Stratford may pick up matches this week.  Huatoki will be too strong in the ladies, with Chris Wilson, Ellen O'Byrne, Tracey Old and Georgia Bartosh taking on Mylie Thwaites, Katie Stanners, Kristin Lourie and Maree Kydd.  Ajeet Rai (Hua) will be too accomplished for Andy Roberts in the No.1 men's match and Jeremy Wichman (Hua) should be too experienced in the No.4 slot against Chris Thwaites.  Stratford's best chances are in the No.2 men's match where veteran Bruce Cleland (Str) takes on David Innes and in the No.3 men's, where Grant Kite (Str) can defeat Chris Avery if he plays to his full ability.  The doubles and combines will mostly go to Huatoki unless Stratford can create a bit of magic with doubles combinations.

Farmlands Okaiawa/Manaia host Oakura at their hard-courts at Okaiawa.  Oakura have struggled to win at Okaiawa in recent seasons and this match may be no different.  On paper, it looks like Okaiawa/Mania will dominate the men's matches and Oakura will dominate the women's matches.  Last week, Okaiawa/Manaia had an 8-8 draw against Rotokare and Oakura had an impressive 13-3 victory over the other newcomers, Inglewood.

Okaiawa's men's line-up of Mark Laurence, Vince Baylis, Josh Murdoch and Rhys Butler look to have the wood on the Oakura line-up of Nick Loveridge, Simon Spurdle, Scott Johnson and a fourth player yet to be decided.  Conversely, Oakura's women have a very strong look about them.  They only dropped one match last week and will be attempting to do even better this week.  Whilst Oakura's line-up differs from last week, it doesn't lack in power.  Danni Fletcher, Jackie Keenan, Leah Fletcher and Chris Davies take on Okaiawa's Jaimee Baylis, Carolyn Jackson, Georgia Jackson and Vicki Roberts.  After the singles and doubles, the tie may well be even and it will come down to the combines to try and create a winning edge.

The remaining match has Inglewood Club Inglewood hosting Central Finance Rotokare on the bouncy hard-courts of Inglewood.  Both teams will be looking for their first win this season and it would not surprise if the home-court advantage proves decisive for Inglewood.

There are some intriguing matchups in the men with the battle of the No.1's being fought between Diego Carrasco (Ing) and Leandro Fossa (Rot).  This is the first match for both players and it is difficult to make a prediction.  The No.2 match between Malcolm Masters and Shane Devlin should be tight with Masters favoured due to a home court advantage.  Inglewood's depth in the men's line-up should see Campbell Mace and Derek Spurdle supreme in their singles matches against John Lehman and Laurie Jordan respectively.

The No.1 women's match will be between former Taranaki Rep, Krystal Oakes (Ing) and current Wanganui Rep Karen Cranston (Rot).  Both had wins in round 1 but Cranston has the edge on paper.  The remainder of Inglewood's women of Shona Salisbury, Alex Spurdle and Chrissy Mace may surprise themselves and cement a good lead for their team going into the doubles.  The doubles and combines will be fiercely contested but Inglewood should be expected to gain further advantage and come out of the day with a victory.