Titles change hands at tennis tourney

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 12:01 30/12/2013
Lily O'Fagen serves with Donna Clark at the net
Scott Hammond

Lily O'Fagen serves with Donna Clark at the net

Scott Woolley
Scott Hammond
Scott Woolley
Kenta Naka and Daiki Naka
Scott Hammond
Kenta Naka and Daiki Naka

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Both the men's and women's titles changed hands when the 36th annual Drylands Marlborough Rapaura Doubles wrapped up in wet conditions at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre in Blenheim yesterday.

The men's crown was won by visiting Japanese brothers and second seeds Kenta (Nelson) and Daiki (Christchurch) Naka after they knocked over top seeds and five-time champions Graham Thomas and Scott Woolley 6-2 7-6. A record 19th Rapaura title was claimed by Jane Anderson-Bay in the women's competition as she joined forces with Susan Heagney to beat defending champ Lily O'Fagan and Donna Clark 7-5 7-6 in the final.

Veteran Grovetown club duo Thomas and Woolley got off to a solid start in the men's final on the artificial courts at Pollard Park, taking an early 2-0 lead. However, the more powerful and younger Naka brothers soon found their range and proceeded to reel off six straight games to bag the first set 6-2.

Using their experience and guile, Thomas and Woolley bounced back and had their noses in front for the majority of a tit-for-tat second set, at one stage holding a 4-3 buffer. The second seeds then won two consecutive games to go within one game of the title, but Woolley held serve and the top seeds also claimed the next game to take a 6-5 advantage. Unfortunately for the local pair, though, the Naka brothers were equally resilient and broke Thomas' serve to force a tiebreak, which they won 7-5 to seal the title.

Both sets of finalists had a relatively untroubled route to the final. After a round one bye, the Naka's had consecutive 6-0 6-0 wins before overcoming Marlborough duo and third seeds Hamish Morrow and Andrew Mitchell 6-2 6-4 in the semifinals. Thomas and Woolley also had a bye in round one, before having 6-0 6-0 and 6-2 6-0 wins and a 6-2 6-4 victory over fourth seeds James Callaghan and Phil Wright to reach the title decider.

The women's final which followed was also played out between the two top seeds and turned out to be an even closer affair.

With Heagney using her power and Anderson-Bay showing numerous deft touches, the second seeds quickly established a 4-1 lead. Top seeds O'Fagan and Clark fought back and made it 5-all, but Anderson-Bay and Heagney held their nerve to close out the set 7-5.

A three set match looked on the cards when O'Fagan and Clark won the opening two games of the second set. However, the No 2 seeds rediscovered their first set form and rattled off four straight games and at 5-4 were just one game away from the silverware.

It was not over yet, though, O'Fagan comfortably holding serve and the No 1 seeds winning the next game to lead 6-5. The 12th game of the set was a long one, but Anderson-Bay and Heagney eventually broke Clark's serve to force a tiebreak and went on to secure the title 7-5.

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Like their male counterparts, the female finalists had little trouble reaching the final. Anderson-Bay and Heagney won their round one match by default and their round two match 6-0 6-1, then went through to the final with a 6-3 6-0 victory over third seeds Eveline Apthorp and Trisha Bancroft. O'Fagan and Clark had a round one bye, before scoring a 6-1 6-1 win and defeating Suzanne Sampson and Loren Hickin 6-3 6-1 in the semifinals.

The tournament was moved into Blenheim on Saturday afternoon and yesterday after it was deemed the grass at Rapaura was too wet.


RESULTS WRAP

Other finals results

Men:

Quarterfinal losers plate: Stephen Knight/Nick Laundy won by default.

Special plate (2nd round losers): Brendon Sutherland/Yuichi Ando beat Andrew Forgesson/Lee Harborne 9-8.

Plate (1st round losers): Torban Otway/ Ben Petley beat Guy and Rhys Weyburne 6-4 5-7 6-1.

Consolation plate (2 losses): Richard Marfell/Graham Moseley won by default.

Women:

Special plate: Judy Shanahan/Fiona Pidgeon beat Alison Coats/Jo Steel 9-0.

Plate: Trish Dahlberg/Lorna Lindquist beat Jo Tucker/Robbie Taylor 9-2.

Consolation plate:

Final between Debs Simpson/Jen Insley and Jacqui Swanston/Mary Doig to be played this week. 

- The Marlborough Express

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