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Even look to Gawith Shield interclub tourney

Matt Spooner, left, Cory Spooner, Karen Goodall, and Jono Hurley played in Carterton’s 2018 championship-winning side. PHOTO/FILE


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Five teams will contest the Gawith Shield – Wairarapa’s most prized interclub championship starting this week.

That represents a big step up from last year when only three teams competed in the traditional interclub competition.

Opaki will field two teams with three-time defending champions Martinborough, Masterton, and Carterton, each entering a team.

The teams of four men and two women will play six singles matches and three doubles matches.

All matches played on Saturdays will be played in three standard tiebreaker sets, while Thursday and Friday night fixtures will be played with two standard tiebreaker sets, plus a super tiebreaker [the first to 10].

A five-week round-robin will be played, with the top four teams to qualify for the semifinals.

The Martinborough team based around Chris Wilkie, Marco de Groot, Ed Wilkie, Matt Nicholson, and Steve Chapman, and Rhona Lovell, Katherine Jacobs, and Martha Wojcikowski in the women will be targeting a fourth straight title, but they are likely to face stiff opposition from a resurgent Masterton, and a new-look Carterton side.

Boon Huxtable, serving, and Rhys Hooper won the Shirley Corlett Trophy, pre-Christmas interclub. PHOTO/FILE

Masterton won both men’s and women’s pre-Christmas championships and had both teams in the Shirley Trophy final, with Boon Huxtable and Rhys Hooper claiming championship honours.

They will be joined by Kelby Courtney, Chad Parsons, and Liam Kerr in a solid men’s lineup, with Netia Morison, Hilda Holman, and Deb Kerr sharing the women’s duties.

Carterton last won the title in 2018 and return with a similar team to that championship-winning side.

The experienced duo of Jono Hurley and Matt Spooner top the list with Wairarapa Tennis development officer Jacob Emery, and talented youngsters William Day and William Orsborn.

Sisters Alice and Elizabeth Whitaker and Gabriella Nicholson give the side a youthful look and are backed up by Olivia Bailey-Rotman, and the experienced Karen Goodall.

The Opaki Red team will only play on Thursday nights only. While both Opaki’s sides have experienced men’s line-ups, their strength could lie in the women.

Katie Alsop gives Opaki Red an edge in the number one women’s spot.

Katie Alsop, who has been the region’s best women’s player, will head the Red team with Tori Bunny and Pip Dalgleish. Michael Jackson, brothers Nathan and Ben Riwai-Couch, Matt Bunny, and Matt King form the basis of the men’s team.

The experienced Geri Brooking and Belinda Day give Opaki White a strong hand in the women, while the men have a settled look with Chris Davidson, Duncan Oakley, Brett Dymond, Stu Wyeth, Jon McNab, and Richie Day to call on.

Senior interclub controller Matt Spooner confirmed that interclub can be played under the covid-19 red traffic light setting, but all clubs must follow Health Ministry guidelines.

Fixtures could be postponed if there is a rapid outbreak and two or more regular players from any team are affected and need to self-isolate.

One consequence of the covid-19 pandemic has been the shortage of tennis balls.

“With Head being unable to supply any further balls for this season, clubs are free to use any match [or] championship type ball for interclub,” Spooner said.

“If you are unsure of the difference between match and recreational balls, get back to me, and I can advise on that.”

The competition will start tonight, with Opaki Red hosting Martinborough. Carterton are at home to Masterton on Saturday.

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