Grovetown club duo Graham Thomas and Scott Woolley are favoured to take out their fifth Drylands Marlborough Rapaura doubles title when the 35th version of the popular event is hosted at the Rapaura club this weekend.
Defending men's champions and top seeds, Thomas and Woolley have an outstanding record of success on Rapaura's grass courts. Thomas has won an unprecedented 12 titles, while Woolley has claimed the major honours five times.
Along with Thomas and Woolley's return, the good news for the tournament hosts is that entries are well up on the past two years.
A total of 26 men's and 15 women's combinations means 41 pairs will be vying for the titles, more than twice the number of the 20 pairs who played in the 34th event at the start of this year. Along with players from Marlborough, players from Nelson, Canterbury, Otago, Auckland and the UK will be in action.
Although Thomas and Woolley are expected to be tough to beat, they will face challenges from several pairings in an evenly spread men's field. Julian Main and Phil Wright are second seeds, with Kenta and Daika Naka third. Another Marlborough duo, Hamish Morrow and Andrew Mitchell are seeded fourth.
Meanwhile, in the women's competition, 11-time title winners and defending champions Jane Anderson-Bay and Deb Schollum are once again top seeds. The Rapaura pair have a remarkable 30 titles between them, Anderson-Bay champion in 18 of the 34 tournaments and Schollum a winner on 12 occasions.
A 12th crown together is not a formality, though. The young second-seeded duo of Marlborough talent Lily O'Fagan and Nelson's Ashleigh Calder are expected to push hard for major honours. The third seed belongs to Eveline Apthorp and Trisha Bancroft, while Elaine Fluit and Denise Rounthwaite are seeded fourth.
Play is set to begin at 9am tomorrow at the Rapaura club in Rapaura Rd. Finals are scheduled for Sunday and spectators are welcome throughout the event.
Marlborough is hosting the 22nd South Island Veterans Tennis Teams Festival at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre in Pollard Park today, tomorrow and Sunday.
Eight teams of eight players from all over the South Island are involved.
Saturday, December 29
9 am: T & P Nelson v A Hauswirth & P Hardie Boys; N Sonne & B Adams v J & C Mercer; D & G Cameron v G Tait & T Lee; L Frisken & R Milne v J Hauswirth & G Hardie Boys; L Harborne & A Diamanti v K Register & L Dahlberg; C Morris & D Hayes v W Dahlberg & G Moseley.
10 am: B Doig & P Newton v A Forgesson & H Neas; R & H Marfell v P Rogge & B Sutherland; N Fluit & M Gibson v M Evans & Y Ando; B Martin & S Clark v S Wilkinson & R Marsden; D Simpson & A Fraser v T Dahlberg & A John; E Apthorp & T Bancroft v G Ford & G Amaral.
11 am: J Steele & M Newton v S Stocker & V Scott; P Cunningham & J Swanston v E Fluit & D Rounthwaite; R Suter & F Pidgeon v M Doig & C Wadworth; A Coats & S Rapsey v S Thomson & R Vause; A Milne & S Lee v L O'Fagan & A Calder.
11.30 am: All players not mentioned above.
- The Marlborough Express