Marlborough tennis rising star Lily O'Fagan returned from the under-16 national championships in Hamilton "really happy" with her efforts after reaching the quarterfinal stage of both the singles and doubles competitions.
Still just 15 and in the first of two seasons at under 16 level, O'Fagan played above her singles seeding of ninth and gained a top six finish at the event which finished on Tuesday.
The Marlborough teenager had a round one bye, before meeting Auckland's Charlotte Booth in round two on Friday afternoon. O'Fagan took a while to adjust to the heavier hitting, allowing her unseeded opponent to claim the first set 6-4, but showed superb resolve to bounce back and take the next two sets 6-2 6-3 and secure victory after nearly two and a half hours.
Eighth seed Sarah Wardenburg was O'Fagan's opposition in round three on Saturday afternoon. She was down 4-1 in the first set and 4-2 in the second but, after another tight battle which lasted two hours and seven minutes, the Marlburian sealed a huge 7-5 6-4 win over the bigger and stronger girl from North Harbour.
O'Fagan went down 6-0 6-0 to second seed and eventual winner Ella Hassall, of Waikato, in the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon. However, the match lasted over an hour and the one-sided scoreline did not reflect how competitive O'Fagan was and how well she played against the hard-hitting New Zealand junior team member.
That put O'Fagan into the 5th-8th place playoffs and on Monday morning she scored another big victory when she overcame 10th seed Tahlia Walsh 6-3 6-2, a big reversal on the 6-0 6-4 win to Walsh the only other time the two players met. O'Fagan was due to meet top seed Annabel Ellis in the playoff for fifth on Tuesday morning, but was unable to play because her travel arrangements meant she was already on her way home to Blenheim.
O'Fagan was pleased to achieve her goal of making the quarterfinals, the same result she had in her last year in the under 14s, and said she is "pretty happy with how it is all going at the moment." And although her tournament ended in a 6-0 6-0 loss, she felt she got better as it went on and felt more confident having faced "a lot of good hitting."
In the doubles, O'Fagan and her Auckland partner Diana Deyeva were fourth seeds. After a round one bye, they beat Victoria Hockley and Laumanu Teu 7-6 6-4 on Sunday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, though, a slow start cost O'Fagan and Deyeva in the quarters and they were beaten 6-2 7-6 by fifth seeds Gabriela Coates and Michal Matson, who went on to narrowly lose the final to Hassall and Ellis.
O'Fagan is playing for Canterbury in the national under 16 teams event at the end of April and returned to the Marlborough premier interclub competition for her Marlborough Blades side last night.
Meanwhile, the three Otway siblings, Jade, Kyla and Torban, attended the under 12 national championships in Christchurch, which also finished on Tuesday.
The 16th seed in the girls singles, Jade had a round one bye before dispatching Vita Mcdouall 6-0 6-0 in round two on Friday afternoon. A 7-5 6-0 loss to fourth seed Brooke Kenny in the third round on Saturday put Otway through to the fourth round of the consolation plate, where she went down 6-4 6-0 to eventual semifinalist Emma Miyaura.
Jade teamed up with twin sister Kyla in the doubles and the pair had a round one bye after picking up the eighth seed. They beat Lauren O'Malley and Sophie Wilson 6-0 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals, but missed out on the semis following a 6-1 6-4 loss to fourth seeds Ayesha Burnett and Antonia Lawson.
Kyla's singles campaign began with a 6-0 6-0 victory over Millie Ness on Friday morning. A 6-0 6-0 loss to fifth seed Sarah Weekly put Otway into round two of the consolation plate, where she battled hard before being beaten 6-4 6-3 by Jourdan Craig.
In the boys singles competition, Torban finished with two wins and two losses. He beat Harry Dargue 6-1 6-1 in round one but faced seventh seed Reece Falck in the afternoon and went 83 minutes before going down 6-2 6-4. Otway bounced back on Sunday morning to beat Jack Ritchie 6-1 6-1 in round two of the consolation plate, but was unable to advance any further when he was beaten 6-4 6-4 by ninth seed and doubles partner William Schneideman on Monday morning.
Otway and Schneideman started well in the doubles with a 4-6 6-1 10-3 win over Flynn Goodley-Hollister and Joshua Heatley in round one and a 6-1 6-2 victory over Max and Sam Allais in round two. However, the Marlborough youngster and his partner drew top seeds William Brownlie and George Stoupe in the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon and were soundly beaten 6-0 6-2.
- The Marlborough Express