For the first time since 2008, the Blair Cup will reside in Blenheim after the Marlborough under-18 tennis team scored a resounding 11-5 victory over Nelson at the Tasman Tennis Centre in Richmond on Sunday.
Following a 15-1 loss in 2011 and a 14-2 defeat last year, Marlborough went into the match expecting a closer result. However, given the average age of the team was 15 and several of their Nelson opposition were 17 and 18, a win by such a comfortable margin was not predicted. Seven of the eight Marlborough players were also in last year's defeated team.
The result means Marlborough now hold two of the three junior trophies contested between Marlborough and Nelson. Marlborough are also the holders of the Malcolm Shield for under-14s, while Nelson are the reigning Gardiner Trophy (under 10, 12, 14 and 16) champions. That trophy is competed for in late May.
Like the Malcolm Shield win in October last year, Sunday's Blair Cup triumph was assured after 12 of the 16 matches, with Marlborough holding a 9-3 advantage. That lead came via three wins from four in the boys, and girls, doubles and six wins from eight in the singles matches.
In the boy's doubles, Lee Harborne and Mitchell Smith won their match in straight sets, with No 1 duo Andrew Forgesson and Charlie Mercer going down in a third set super tiebreak. No 1 girls combination Lily O'Fagan and Sarah Maxwell saved a match point before winning 11-9 in a super tiebreak, with Abbey Hogg and Kate Rawcliffe winning 6-0 7-6.
Harborne, Smith and Mercer all won their singles in straight sets, Forgesson going down 6-3 5-7 6-2 to Henry Neas in the No 1 match. O'Fagan and Rawcliffe convincingly took out their singles, No 2 Hogg fighting back from a set down to beat Georgia Low 2-6 6-3 6-1. Marlborough No 4 Kate Roughan was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Amy Hurst.
With the silverware already secure, the mixed doubles matches were merely academic. But, Marlborough still managed to win two of the four matches, Harborne and O'Fagan winning 9-3 and Mercer joining Rawcliffe to win 9-6. Forgesson and Maxwell narrowly went down 9-7, with Smith and Hogg edged by the same margin.
Although all the Marlborough players performed well, Harborne and Rawcliffe were the undoubted standouts, both going through the day unbeaten.
Blair Cup results (Marlborough players first)
Boys' doubles: Marlborough 1 Nelson 1: Andrew Forgesson/Charlie Mercer lt Henry Neas/ Elliot Le Petit 6-1 4-6 10-2, Lee Harborne/Mitchell Smith bt Ben Petley/Ben Hazlett 6-2 6-2.
Girls' doubles: Marlborough 2 Nelson 0: Lily O'Fagan/Sarah Maxwell bt Laura Roberts/Georgia Low 7-5 3-6 11-9, Abbey Hogg/Kate Rawcliffe bt Frances Clark/Amy Hurst 6-0 7-6.
Boys' singles: Marlborough 3 Nelson 1: Forgesson lt Neas 6-3 5-7 6-2, Harborne bt Le Petit 6-2 6-2, Smith bt Petley 7-5 6-2, Mercer bt Hazlett 6-2 6-2.
Girls' singles: Marlborough 3 Nelson 1: O'Fagan bt Roberts 6-2 6-2, Hogg bt Low 2-6 6-3 6-1, Rawcliffe bt Clark 6-1 6-1, Kate Roughan lt Hurst 6-3 6-3.
Mixed doubles: Marlborough 2 Nelson 2: Forgesson/Maxwell lt Neas/Roberts 9-7, Harborne/O'Fagan bt Le Petit/Low 9-3, Smith/Hogg lt Petley/Clark 9-7, Mercer/Rawcliffe bt Hazlett/Hurst 9-6.
Overall: Marlborough 11 bt Nelson 5.
- The Marlborough Express
Who will win the Press Cup on Saturday, 2.30pm, Lansdowne Park, Blenheim?