Three teams booked their spots in the semifinals of the Craigs Investment Partners Marlborough premier interclub tennis competition following the round 12 matches on Wednesday night.
Previously unbeaten this season, Marlborough Foxes were knocked over by a resurgent Rapaura Drylands Two side 8-7 on set countback on grass at Rapaura, but maintained an overall lead of four points at the end of the round.
Foxes' Robert Cowlishaw and Lee Harborne won their singles and combined to take the men's doubles. However, sets gained by Brendon Sutherland and Owen Dodson in that men's doubles and by Dodson in his super tie-break loss to Harborne eventually proved the difference for Drylands Two. Their three wins came via Ben Burridge and Rebecca Boon, who won their singles and joined forces to beat Josh Gwynne and Mel Trolove in the mixed doubles.
Another team to qualify for the final four with two rounds still to play is Rapaura Drylands One, who beat Marlborough Rockets 8-7 on set countback at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre in Pollard Park.
The keys sets were won by Tony Fenemor and Darryl Harper in their loss to Blair Harvey and Ellis Diamanti and Fenemor in his singles loss to Diamanti. Drylands One's points came via Harper edging Harvey 6-7 6-3 11-9, Mark Evans downing youngster Jean-Luc Hauswirth and Evans combining with Sandy Stubbs to win the mixed doubles. Rockets' third win went to youngster Abbey Hogg, who recorded her seventh interclub victory of the season.
The third side to secure their spot in the semifinals was third-placed Marlborough Stars, who scored a clean-sweep 6-0 win over a depleted Marlborough Jigsaw outfit at Pollard Park.
Hamish Morrow, Charlie Mercer and Hiro Kishida collected comfortable straight sets singles wins. Morrow and Mercer downed Clyde Sowman and Nick Winter 6-1 6-3 in the men's doubles. Jigsaw were forced to default the women's singles and mixed doubles.
In the other match from Wednesday, Donna Clark recorded her 10th interclub win of the season as Marlborough Dragons beat Marlborough Bullets 4-2 at Pollard Park to keep pace with Drylands Two in the battle for the fourth playoff spot.
Dragons doubles combinations both had straight sets victories, with Clark's win over Virginia Watson and Nigel Sowman's super-tiebreak win over Josh Winter sealing the deal. Teenagers Andrew Forgesson and Mitchell Smith won the points for Bullets.
Along with the battle for top spot, where Foxes lead Drylands One by four points, the other real interest lies in Dragons battle with Drylands Two, where Drylands Two hold a two-point advantage.
Round 12 results from Wednesday, January 23
Marlborough Foxes 3 (7 sets) lost to Rapaura Drylands Two 3 (8 sets): Robert Cowlishaw beat Brendon Sutherland 7/5 6/2, Lee Harborne beat Owen Dodson 6/2 6/7 10/8, Joshua Gwynne lost to Ben Burridge 6/3 2/6 10/7, Mel Trolove lost to Rebecca Boon 6/3 7/6(4), Harborne & Cowlishaw beat Sutherland & Dodson 6/4 2/6 10/7, Gwynne & Trolove lost to Burridge & Boon 6/1 6/4.
Rapaura Drylands One 3 (8 sets) beat Marlborough Rockets 3 (7 sets): Darryl Harper beat Blair Harvey 6/7 6/3 11/9, Tony Fenemor lost to Ellis Diamanti 3/6 6/0 10/6, Mark Evans beat Jean-Luc Hauswirth 6/0 7/5, Sandy Stubbs lost to Abbey Hogg 6/2 6/3, Harper & Fenemor lost to Harvey & Diamanti 1/6 6/4 10/8, Evans & Stubbs beat Hauswirth & Hogg 6/1 6/3.
Marlborough Dragons 4 beat Marlborough Bullets 2: Peter Rogge lost to Andrew Forgesson 7/6 6/1, Yuichi Ando lost to Mitchell Smith 6/4 1/6 10/7, Nigel Sowman beat Josh Winter 4/6 6/4 10/7, Donna Clark beat Virginia Watson 6/0 6/2, Ando & Sowman beat Forgesson & Smith 6/4 6/4, Rogge & Clark beat Winter & Watson 6/2 6/2.
Marlborough Stars 6 beat Marlborough Jigsaw 0: Hamish Morrow beat Nick Winter 6/2 6/2, Charlie Mercer beat Clyde Sowman 6/2 6/1, Hiro Kishida beat Alain Hauswirth 6/1 6/2, Morrow & Mercer beat Sowman & Winter 6/1 6/3. Jigsaw defaulted their women's singles and the mixed doubles.
Points standings: Marlborough Foxes 68, Rapaura Drylands One 64, Marlborough Stars 59, Rapaura Drylands Two 48, Marlborough Dragons 46, Marlborough Rockets 36, Marlborough Bullets 35, Marlborough Jigsaw 25.
- The Marlborough Express