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Gawith Shield gathers best

Chris Davidson will head a solid Opaki line-up. PHOTOS/FILE

Defending champions Martinborough hottest of favourites
Gladstone weakened by absence

TENNIS

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Martinborough will start the hottest of favourites to retain the Gawith Shield for Regional One Interclub supremacy which begins today.

Four teams – Martinborough, Masterton, Opaki and Gladstone – will contest the championship, with the teams playing each other twice, home and away. The top two teams will play in the final in March.

The competition also reverts to a more traditional interclub format, with teams of four men and two women.

Each fixture will consist of six singles and two men’s doubles and one women’s double.

The Martinborough side will be similar to the one that won the 2019 championship and will be based around the two men’s teams and one women’s team that contested the pre-Christmas interclub.

The men’s number one team finished runner-up to Carterton in the Shirley Corlett Trophy, while the women were third.

That would see an experienced men’s line-up of Chris Wilkie at number one, Marco de Groot at two, followed by either Steve Chapman, Ed Wilkie, Matt Nicholson, Mike Jones or Jaimie McMaster.

The inclusion of Irishwoman Sarah Healey will add significant depth to the women’s side of the team, which could also feature Katherine Jacobs and Martha Wojcikowski.

Healey showed in limited appearances for Martinborough in the Regional One women’s pre-Christmas competition that she was a class above most opposition with some very easy victories.

Martinborough will be at home to Masterton in the opening round, with the clash between the number one men appealing as a mouth-watering contest.

In December’s Shirley Corlett Trophy semifinal Chris Wilkie and Boon Huxtable fought out a niggly three-setter, which was eventually won by Huxtable after nearly three hours.

Chad Parsons adds depth to Masterton.

Huxtable, a former highly-ranked Auckland junior, will be joined by Chad Parsons, Rhys Hooper, John McLeod, and promising youngster Liam Kerr.

The return of the experienced Parsons and McLeod, who was a talented junior in the 1990s, will add a lot of depth to the Masterton men’s line-up.

Julie Malcolm and Julie Foley are likely to be Masterton’s leading women.

Opaki can never be discounted and have depth in both the men and women to present a strong challenge.

Chris Davidson will head a solid line-up including Brett Dymond, Duncan Oakley, Stu Wyeth and Jon McNab.

The Opaki women won the pre-Christmas interclub and will have plenty of options to choose from.

Gerry Brooking, Belinda Day and Judy Howard are all steady performers, while the possible inclusion of Katie Allsop would give Opaki an edge over most teams.

The likely absence of Scott Day is a big blow for Gladstone. The regular number one has moved out of the district and although he is still listed on the team sheet his appearances are likely to be irregular.

That would see William Day promoted to number one. The 14-year old was one of the big improvers of the Shirley Corlett Trophy and he has the potential to push some of his more experienced rivals.

Lochie McNab, Mitch Blackwood and some players from Gladstone’s regional two team will fill out the roster.

The women’s pairing will feature Ruby Kyle and Amica Valencia from the St Matthew’s Collegiate pre-Christmas teams.

Gladstone will host Opaki in today’s opening round.

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