The top teams from round-robin play, Marlborough Foxes and Rapaura Drylands One, advanced to the final of the Craigs Investment Partners Marlborough premier interclub competition after entertaining semifinal victories on Wednesday night.
Top qualifiers Foxes accounted for a determined Rapaura Drylands Two, 4-2, at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre in Pollard Park. On grass at Rapaura, Drylands One booked their spot in the title decider with a win by the same margin against Marlborough Stars, avenging a loss to the same side in the final round-robin match.
Foxes and Drylands Two shared the doubles one a piece, with Foxes duo Robert Cowlishaw and Lee Harborne surviving a torrid first set before winning in straight sets against Brendon Sutherland and Ben Burridge. In the mixed match, Rapaura's Owen Dodson and Eveline Apthorp squared things up, easing past Mel Trolove and Joshua Gwynne.
Three wins for Foxes in the men's singles eventually proved the key to victory. Rapaura captain Sutherland fought hard before Cowlishaw pulled away for a 7-5 6-1 win, while Harborne remained unbeaten in singles with his victory over Dodson.
The No 3 battle between Gwynne, 12, and Burridge was the clincher. After losing the first set 6-1, Gwynne quickly bounced back to win the second by the same scoreline and held his nerve in the third to win the super tie-break 10-7. Apthorp defeated Trolove, 6-4 6-2, but two wins were not enough for the second Rapaura side.
At Rapaura, round-robin runners-up Drylands One made the most of home-court advantage to overcome third-placed Stars.
The doubles matches were shared, with Rapaura's Darryl Harper and Mark Evans defeating Hiro Kishida and Charlie Mercer comfortably and Stars' Hamish Morrow and Lily O'Fagan winning the mixed clash, 7-6 6-4, against Anthony Walkenhorst and Sandy Stubbs.
O'Fagan stretched her unbeaten singles run in senior interclub with a comprehensive win over Stubbs. However, as Foxes had done in the other semifinal, Drylands One's men were dominant. The key match between the No 1 men fit the occasion, with Walkenhorst coming from a set down to beat Morrow.
Walkenhorst took the second, 6-4, and the third set super tie-break went down to the wire before he prevailed, 10-8. Harper's easy win over Kishida meant the pressure then went on Rapaura No 3 Evans to avenge his loss to Mercer the previous week.
Evans won the first, 6-1 but Mercer came back and took the second, 6-2, to set up a pivotal super tie-break.
This time it was Evans who held his nerve, taking the third, 10-2, to lead his team into the final.
The final is set for a 5.45pm start at Pollard Park on Wednesday with Foxes having home-court advantage over Drylands One.
Marlborough Foxes 4 beat Rapaura Drylands Two 2: Robert Cowlishaw beat Brendon Sutherland 7-5 6-1, Lee Harborne beat Owen Dodson 6-0 6-1, Joshua Gwynne beat Ben Burridge 1-6 6-1 (10-7), Mel Trolove lost to Eveline Apthorp 6-4 6-2, Cowlishaw and Harborne beat Sutherland and Burridge 7-5 6-1, Gwynne and Trolove lost to Dodson and Apthorp 6-1 6-4.
Rapaura Drylands One 4 beat Marlborough Stars 2: Anthony Walkenhorst beat Hamish Morrow 6-7 6-4 (10-8), Darryl Harper beat Hiro Kishida 6-1 6-0, Mark Evans beat Charlie Mercer 6-1 2-6 (10/2), Sandy Stubbs lost to Lily O'Fagan 6-1 6-0, Harper and Evans beat Kishida and Mercer 6-2 6-2, Walkenhorst and Stubbs lost to Morrow and O'Fagan 7-6 6-4.
- The Marlborough Express