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Home final on the line


Home court advantage is up for grabs when Opaki and Carterton meet in the final round of Wairarapa regional one interclub tonight at Opaki.

Martinborough, on 41 points, and Carterton, on 34 points, are already confirmed finalists, but the venue for Saturday’s Gawith Shield decider is still to be decided.

The equation for Carterton is simple, beat Opaki and the final will be played at their home venue.

A 5-4 scoreline, plus two points for the win would see Martinborough and Carterton tied, but the latter would finish top because of the better sets differential. A Carterton loss, however, would see the final played on Martinborough’s grass courts.

Martinborough completed their round-robin on Saturday with a hard-fought 6-3 win over Opaki at Martinborough.

The home side dominated the men’s matches, winning all six, while Opaki took out the three women’s matches.

At the top of the men’s order, Chris Wilkie won a close battle with Boon Huxtable 6-4 6-4. Shane Colton continued his good run of form with a 6-4 6-2 defeat of Duncan Oakley, Ed Wilkie came from a set down to win a thriller with Chris Davidson 3-6 7-5 6-4, and Matt Nicholson won an up and down three-setter with Richie Day 6-3 1-6 6-0.

Katie Alsop and Belinda Day closed the gap to 4-2 after the singles. Alsop had to work hard to beat Gabriella Nicholson 6-2 7-6, and Belinda Day was too good for Marta Wojcikowski, winning in straight sets 6-1 6-3.

Alsop and Belinda Day then combined for Opaki’s only win in the doubles, comfortably accounting for Gabriella Nicholson and Wojcikowski 6-1 6-1.

In the men’s doubles, Ed Wilkie and Shane Colton defeated Huxtable and Davidson 6-3 6-3, and Chris Wilkie and Matt Nicholson won their clash with Oakley and Richie Day 6-0 6-4.

Representative matches

For the first time in four years, Wairarapa will field a team in the central region hexagonal tournament.

The two-day competition, to be played at Wellington’s Renouf Centre on the weekend of March 25-26, features six representative teams from the lower North Island. The teams are split into two pools of three, with games to be played on Saturday,
followed by playoffs on Sunday.

The Wairarapa squad is still to be determined but could include Jono Hurley, Boon Huxtable, William Day, Shane Colton, Rudo Erasmus and possibly Jacob Emery and Matt Spooner in the men. Immensely talented German exchange student Mara Beyerle is likely to lead the women’s lineup, which could include veteran Katie Alsop, and promising 15-year-old Alice Whitaker.

Wairarapa’s appearance at the hexagonal will be only the second time in 12 years the region has played in the teams’ competition, the last occasion in 2019 when a makeshift side finished sixth out of six.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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