Former-tour pro, Alistair Hunt, is picking up his racket again this weekend for the ASB Inter-Club tennis competition in Christchurch.
Hunt achieved an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking of 184, and has decided to come back to play for the Elmwood Club to give back to the tennis community in Christchurch. "It is just about trying to get tennis here back on track".
Hunt acknowledged that it has been a tough couple of years for tennis in Christchurch which he attributes to the earthquakes. However, he remains optimistic that things are about to get better.
Burnside Park will find the going tough this season to replicate last summer's memorable championship "double-double".
While the women's team is expected to again be a strong contender for title honours, the men's side has lost its influential No 1 player Remi Feneon to injury. Feneon has an ankle problem which is likely to require surgery, while player movement has also weakened the team.
Burnside Park swept all before them last season with their premier men's and women's teams winning the ASB trophy and summer league (post Christmas) titles plus Feneon and wife Jolene, earning individual grand prix awards and jointly the personality of the year. Their success was capped by the club of the year crown.
Cashmere and Hunt's Elmwood look likely to vie for championship honours with the Cashmere challenge another family affair as three Meredith brothers, regulars Matthew and Tim, are joined by brother James, while Jonny and Tim McHarg are also club stalwarts.
Cashmere also may have an ace in reserve with New Zealand Davis Cup player Dan King-Turner listed in their squad, although how many matches he can play is the question.
Elmwood will be pushing for double honours with hopes of winning the women's crown off Burnside Park.
The senior club competition remains pegged at six teams (men) and five (women) although Canterbury tennis chief executive Neil Prior would like over time to see that increased to eight apiece.
Overall senior numbers are up by 15 teams across all grades an increase of 9 per cent, 12 of which are in the men's grades. This is eight more teams than pre-earthquake.
Junior interclub numbers are also up with 347 teams, up from 343, making it the largest interclub competition in New Zealand. Four clubs have 30 or more junior teams entered, Te Kura (43), Waimairi (40), Burnside Park (31) and Elmwood (30).
Tennis Canterbury recently relaunched their player development programme with Matthew Meredith regional coach and Hunt elite squad head coach.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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