Bridget Dickins is having a season to remember so far in the current summer tennis calendar.
Dickins was a shining light for the Tennis Manawatu senior representative team which travelled to Lower Hutt for the Jacobs Creek Hexangular at the weekend.
The senior rep tournament pits the top players from the lower half of the North Island against each other and includes both former and current Davis Cup and Fed Cup contenders in its team lists.
The tournament was eventually won by Wanganui who boasted New Zealand representatives Kyle Butters and Paige Hourigan in their ranks as well as past Mexican Davis Cup player Victor Romero.
Unbelievably, Wanganui were able to field Butters as their No 2 male player while Romero, who once represented Manawatu, flew the flag at No 1.
Manawatu, however, did not field any national titleholders or NZ representatives, opting for a tight unit of local players that were surprisingly competitive.
That pleased team manager Ricky Pene and captain Jono Spring, whose intention prior to the event was to begin a rebuilding phase in the senior Manawatu representative side. They are looking to grow a cohesive and stable unit to perform well for the future.
Manawatu lost their three fixtures, 10-2 to runners-up Taranaki and 9-3 to both Hutt Valley and Kapi Mana.
Spring said it was a valuable learning opportunity for a young team who will grow from the experience.
What impressed Spring and the rest of the Manawatu team most was the exceptional maturity and accuracy shown by Dickins, who won all six of her matches as the No 1 female player for Manawatu.
Going into the tournament Dickins was ranked 148 in New Zealand according to her Configure Rankings position.
However, Dickins beat players ranked inside the top 60 in the country on her way to winning all three singles and combined brilliantly with Samantha Rowe to win her three doubles matches. That will shift Dickins' New Zealand ranking dramatically and put her closer to her goal of making the top 50.
Manawatu will look to gain from the weekend's experience to build towards their challenge against Wanganui in the Christie Cup challenge after Christmas, as well as their annual representative fixture against Taranaki in February.
- © Fairfax NZ News