9 Nov 2012

After a rained off second round , Round three of Soffe Cup tennis kicks off this Saturday with  AWE Huatoki at home to Sandford Manaia, Central Finance Rotokare host Icon's Sport Tariki Pukekura, and Hareb Deken Oakura  travel to Farmlands Okaiawa's Joll Park. 

Unfortunately exams and a rock concert have robbed Huatoki of their top two women, Alice Caskey and Sophie Roberstson.  Shuna Giles or Ellen O'Byrne comes in at 4 for the Huatoki women's line-up and it will be a battle of who lasts the longest against the fit Trudy Vince.  Manaia's rock, Nicole Koch will play Chris Wilson at 1, while Maree Gopperth and Grace Kelly could have their hands full with Huatoki daughter/mother combo of Hikaru Han and the experienced Saori Han, at 2 and 3.  Interest in the men's competition will be between AWE Huatoki's new recruit, No.1, Andrew Sangster and Sandford Manaia's Jordan Fleming.  Fleming, will sum up the ex-Aucklander's play and quickly come to the conclusion that Sangster can hit hard off both wings, while Sangster will relish playing the best in Taranaki.  Chris Popata versus Cameron Koch is certain to be a slugfest, with fitness playing a huge part.  At 3and 4,  Manaia's Michael Gates and young Beauden Fleming will be sorely tested by the powerful Alastair Nairn and the wizardry of Murray Keast.  The doubles and combines could be evenly matched and the match could hinge on who has the better 3's and 4's.

Rotokare's No 1 Malcolm Elder has a 1-1 head to head with Pukekura's Callum Old, and the score should be close this time around as well.  Old should be stronger and fitter, now working in a shearing gang, and may just have the edge.  Kyle Crowley and the returning Greg Hareb, at No. 2 and No. 3 will have an uphill battle against Pukekura's Mike Fleming and Chris Jury respectively.  Captain, Shane Devlin at no. 4, will want to steer the ship forward, however it may be a case of too fast, too fit, too young, in Pukekura's No 4, Jamie Simpson.  Rotokare are again without their two top women, and young Frances Gray is back at No.1 and will find the younger Louise Waite a tough opponent.  The Atkins' sisters, Beccie and Michelle will give it their all against Kirsten Adam and   Linda Reid respectively, but the Pukekura pair are likely to prevail.  Juliet Farquhar rounds off the Rotokare line-up and could give the powerful Donna Thorne trouble, with her retrieving ability and all round fitness.  Pukekura are expected to be too strong in the doubles and combines. 

The Battle of the O's should go close when Okaiawa host Oakura on 'the hard at Okií.  Men's No.1's ,Oakura's Graeme Mitchell and Okaiawa's Andrew Powell will clash for the first time in interclub, with Mitchell likely to carry his good form through from round 1.  After blowing out the cobwebs in round 1, Len Adamson will be competitive against  Mark Laurence,while the in-form Vincent Baylis is expected to be too strong for the new face, local surgeon, Charlie Lewis.  Oakura's young Cory Sutherland is improving all the time and could give the solid Ryan Stockman a big fright.  In the women's, Oakura has Miaana Walden back at No 1 and she will get a good workout from Okaiawa's No 1, Amelia Weir.  Walden should win but it may not be easy.  Oakura's Jackie Keenan and Chris Davies should have the wood on Jo Gyde and Jaimee Baylis respectively,  At 4, Rebecca Scott plays Shannon O'Brien, and it would be hard not to see her complete a clean sweep by the Oakura women.  The doubles and combines could go either way.