Youngster takes out Taranaki open title

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013
Ajeet Rai
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
FULL STRETCH: Huatoki’s Ajeet Rai chases hard across court to return a shot during his semifinal against Jaden Grinter, of Cambridge. Rai won the match and went on to claim the Taranaki open title.

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Fourteen-year-old Ajeet Rai is the youngest player ever to win the Taranaki open men's tennis title in the 112-history of the event.

The talented Huatoki player yesterday claimed the men's title with an emphatic 6-3, 6-4 win over Manaia's Cameron Koch in the final.

The drama, however, came earlier in the day when Rai upset top seed Jaden Grinter, of Cambridge, in a semifinal clash on the grass at the Albion St courts in Hawera.

After rain had interrupted play on Sunday afternoon, the two players resumed the match yesterday morning with Rai having won the first set 6-3 and the scores level at 4-4 in the second set.

Points went with serve and at 6-6 the match went to a tiebreak.

Grinter hurt his back on the first point in the tiebreak, with Rai taking advantage of his opponent, who had limited movement around the court, to win it 7-1 and advance to the final.

It was the second title for Rai, having earlier teamed with his brother Amrit to win the open men's doubles.

In the final, the pair beat Grinter and Manaia's Jordan Fleming in a tight struggle indoors at the Hub. The Rais won the first set 7-6 after taking an epic tiebreaker 11-9. They clinched the title with a 7-5 win in the second set.

Manawatu reps Bridget Dickens and Kara Duxfield beat Huatoki's Alice Caskey and Rotokare's Frances Gray in the open women's final, also played indoors at the Hub.

The Manawatu pair took the first set 6-2, then claimed the win 7-6 after taking the tiebreaker 7-2.

The mixed doubles title was won by Dickson and Manawatu's Jono Spring in three sets over Pukekura's Jaime Simpson and Huatoki's Hikaru Han.

The first set went to Dickson and Spring 7-6 after winning the tiebreaker 7-2. Han and Simpson took the second set 6-4, with Dickson and Spring taking the third 6-4.

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