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Martinborough to miss stalwart for the final

Ed Wilkie is confident Martinborough can win their fourth consecutive Gawith Shield Championship. PHOTOS/FILE

TENNIS

CHRIS COGDALE
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Martinborough has one hand on a fourth straight Wairarapa regional championship title, but they’re going to have to win without one of their stalwarts.

Martinborough will host today’s Gawith Shield final against Carterton on their grass courts but will miss Marco de Groot, who has returned to his native Netherlands to visit his ill father.

“We’d love to have Marco for it because he’s been a big part of building up the team,” teammate Ed Wilkie said, “but it’s just the way the world is at the moment, and he had to get back and see his dad.”

De Groot would usually play the number two men’s singles and then combine with men’s number one Chris Wilkie to form a formidable doubles pairing.

Ed Wilkie will move up to number two, where he has performed well in the past, including beating the experienced Matt Spooner when the two teams met in pool play.

Although Martinborough’s final line-up won’t be confirmed until today, Matt Nicholson is likely to come in at number three, with Rick Wilkie at four.

Chris Wilkie and Nicholson will form one doubles pairing, with Ed and Rick Wilkie the other.

Katherine Jacobs and Martha Wojcikowksi will play the women’s singles, while veterans Rona Lovell and Libby Paterson will line up in the women’s doubles.

Jono Hurley was the only Carterton player to win his singles the last time they played Martinborough.

Carterton will front with the same men’s quartet as last weekend’s semifinal win over Opaki White, with Jono Hurley at the top of the order, followed by Matt Spooner, William Day, and Cory Spooner.

Carterton will have their strongest women’s players in promising teenagers Alice Whitaker and Gabriella Nicholson for the first time together in the competition.

Hurley and Day, Matt Spooner and Andi Steinemann, and Karen Goodall and Olivia Bailey-Rotman will play the doubles.

Martinborough won their round-robin clash 7-2, but five of those matches went to five sets.

Ed Wilkie also needed two tiebreaker sets to beat Matt Spooner, who he rates as the biggest threat to the three-time defending champions. .

“Matt is the major threat. He will be incredibly motivated to redeem himself for having those close matches not go his way last time, and [in the doubles] I expect a fresh Andi and Spooner really gunning for us.”

Ed Wilkie is also aware of the threat posed by promising teenager Day “if he can string together a whole match of solid tennis” against Nicholson.

Martinborough’s only singles loss came at number one, where Hurley won 6-2 6-1, but Ed Wilkie expects brother Chris to push Hurley a lot closer than that match.

The southern club won all three women’s matches in the round-robin clash, and Ed Wilkie backs Wojcikowsi, Delahunty, and Lovall and Paterson to repeat that effort.

“Martha is getting better; she’s relatively new to matchplay tennis, and she’s really hitting some good balls and her serve has come a long way and whether Katherine can frustrate her opponent again and get the win, and Rona and Libby are solid all round – backhand, forehand – there are no real weaknesses in their game.”

Matt Spooner was confident that Carterton can turn around the result, but said the players need to be more clinical.

“The first time out against them was just a reflection that we were a bit underdone tennis wise,” said Spooner.

“A lot of players hadn’t played a lot of tennis and they just won all the big moments. There were six tight matches and we lost them all. I think we will be in for a good rumble.”

Alice Whitaker will play the number one women’s singles for Carterton.

Martinborough will also host the Regional Two final against Opaki. The home side are top qualifiers, but Opaki come in with winning form, having beaten Martinborough in their final pool fixture last weekend.

The finals would usually be played at the Trust House Masterton Tennis Centre but were moved to Martinborough because of concerns around the covid-19 outbreak.

Ed Wilkie said the club are thrilled to host the finals, and that a lot of work has gone into the preparation of the grass courts.

“We rolled the courts, mown them the best that we can to make them look as much like Wimbledon as we can and hopefully the day all goes well.”

Gawith Shield Final Probable Line Ups

Martinborough:

Singles – Chris Wilkie, Ed Wilkie, Matt Nicholson, Rick Wilkie, Katherine Jacobs, and Martha Wojcikowski.

Doubles – Chris Wilkie and Nicholson, Ed and Rick Wilkie, and Rona Lovell and Libby Paterson.

Carterton:

Singles – Jono Hurley, Matt Spooner, William Day, Cory Spooner, Alice Whitaker, and Gabriella Nicholson.

Doubles – Hurley and Day, Matt Spooner and Andi Steinemann, and Karen Goodall and Olivia Bailey-Rotman

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