Top tennis players ready to serve it up
The 2013-14 Marlborough tennis season comes to life this week with the start of the premier, president's and primary grade competitions.
Tonight the popular SBS Bank president's grade starts, while the opening round of the Craigs Investment Partners premier competition is tomorrow night and the Thump Sports primary schools' competition gets under way on Saturday.
Like last season, eight teams will do battle for the Marlborough premier interclub crown. The addition of teams from the Renwick and Grovetown clubs is notable, two Renwick sides and one Grovetown team joining three from the Marlborough club and two from Rapaura.
As usual, teams are made up of three men and one woman, with each fixture comprising four singles, one men's doubles and one mixed doubles match.
Beaten finalists last season, Rapaura Drylands One look the team to beat this time around. Their lineup is unchanged, with Anthony Walkenhorst, Darryl Harper and Mark Evans joined by Sandy Stubbs.
Made up of Hamish Morrow, Michael Mitchell, Charlie Mercer and Abbey Hogg, Marlborough Stars are another who could mount a challenge, while the Marlborough Blades quarter of leading young guns Lily O'Fagan and Lee Harborne, along with Yuichi Ando and Josh Winter, are also likely to be tough to beat.
First round action at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre at Pollard Park tomorrow has Marlborough Stars up against Renwick White, Marlborough Bulldogs squaring off against Renwick Green and Rapaura Drylands One taking on Grovetown, who welcome the return of Darin Herd from injury. Rapaura Drylands One host Marlborough Blades on grass at Rapaura.
A total of 28 teams compete for four president's grade divisions titles, each division having seven teams. All five Marlborough clubs are represented, Rapaura entering 12 teams, Marlborough eight, Renwick five and Grovetown having two, as well as a combined team with Picton.
Defending division one champions Grovetown Top Shelf will have strong competition from Renwick One and Rapaura Drylands, while Renwick Robins and Rapaura Newhawkes are the leading contenders in division two. Rapaura Pinot look to have the edge in division three, but the new combined Grovetown/Picton side could be a dark horse. Unlucky losers in last year's final, Rapaura Gladiators are the team to beat in division four.
For the fourth year in a row, team numbers in the Saturday morning primary competition have increased, 57 teams taking part across five divisions this season. Renwick Aces are the side to watch in division one, with Otway siblings Torban, Jade and Kyla joined by fellow top junior Carla Hauswirth. St Mary's Tahi, Renwick Topspins, Rapaura Aces and Bohally Nadals are the other teams in the top primary division.
Divisions three and four will play with 25 per cent lower compression balls, allowing the players to maintain longer rallies. Kiwi division players use mini-nets, half-courts and 50 per cent lower compression balls.
2013-14 premier teams
Rapaura Drylands One: Anthony Walkenhorst , Darryl Harper, Mark Evans (c), Sandy Stubbs.
Rapaura Drylands Two: Blair Harvey, Ellis Diamanti, Ben Burridge and Eveline Apthorp.
Renwick White: Peter Rogge (c), Chris Nott, Jean-Luc Hauswirth and Mel Trolove.
Renwick Green: David Sandford, Ben Glover, Mike Paterson and Sara Stocker.
Marlborough Stars: Hamish Morrow (c), Michael Mitchell, Charlie Mercer and Abbey Hogg.
Marlborough Bulldogs: Andrew Forgesson, Nick Winter (c), Josh Gwynne/Nick McLauchlan and Katarina Ingrinova.
Marlborough Blades: Yuichi Ando (c), Lee Harborne, Josh Winter and Lily O'Fagan.
Grovetown: Brendon Sutherland (c), Darin Herd, Hiro Kishada and Donna Clark.
- The Marlborough Express
Who will win the Press Cup on Saturday, 2.30pm, Lansdowne Park, Blenheim?