It took until the final match to decide the winner of an enthralling North vs South tennis fixture played at Martinborough on Saturday.
The South held an 8–7 lead with the final mixed doubles match on the court, needing to avoid a straight sets loss to win the fixture.
The North took the early advantage when the Ōpaki pair Alex Randall and Belinda Day won the first set 7–6 in a tiebreaker, but Chris Wlkie [Martinborough] and Elizabeth Whitaker [Dry River] bounced back to win the second set tiebreaker, ensuring that South would win on a countback if the fixture finished in a tie and then won the super tiebreaker 10–6 for South to take a 9–7 victory.
The honours were shared in the singles, with the South picking up wins to Gabi Nicholson, Johanna de Groot, Niel Henriks, and Chris Wilkie, while the North’s wins were scored by Day, Julie Malcolm, and brothers Matt and Cory Spooner.
The decisive break came in the women’s doubles, with South coming from a set down to win both in super tiebreakers. Nicholson and Marta Wajcikowski beat Anika Stewart and Hannah Beetham 3–6 6–3 10–8, and Whitaker and de Groot outlasted Day and Malcolm 1–6 6–3 10–8.
In other doubles results, Henriks and Eslyn Beck, Henriks and Nicholson also won for the South, while for the North, the Spooner brothers won their men’s doubles, and Matt Spooner and Malcolm, and Cory Spooner and Beetham were victorious in the mixed doubles.
Remarkably seven of the eight doubles matches went to a deciding super tiebreaker, so there was very little separating the two teams.
Vanessa Taylor scored a brilliant unbeaten century to guide St Matthew’s Collegiate to a seven-wicket victory over Wellington Girls’ College [WGC] in the opening round of the Gillette Venus Secondary Schoolgirls tournament at Lincoln, Christchurch, yesterday.
St Matt’s suffered an early setback in their pursuit of WGC’s total of 98, with the loss of NZ U19 international Emma McLeod for one.
Taylor joined wicketkeeper-batter Sally Booth, and the pair produced an outstanding 85-run partnership.
When Booth was dismissed for 31, St Matt’s only needed eight runs for victory, and Taylor made sure of that in the 17th over and finished on 52, off just 40 balls and featuring six fours and two sixes.
Earlier, Taylor had taken 2–6, while Ava Register picked up 3–16, and Sophie Sweeney claimed 2–21 in restricting WGC to below par total.
St Matt’s were to play St Hilda’s [Dunedin] in yesterday afternoon’s second round and will play Christchurch Girls High School and Tauranga Girls’ College today.
Masterton motorcycle racer Eva Wintle picked up her second win of the Suzuki International Series at Manfeild on Sunday to sit third in the championship.
Wintle followed a first-race fifth placing on Saturday with a win by a comfortable margin of five seconds in Sunday’s first race for her second career victory. She followed that with fourth in the third race to move to 49 points in the Gixxer 150 class behind Joseph Stroud  and Nathan Finlay .
Wintle’s stepfather, Spike Taylor, also had a successful meeting with three podium finishes in the Formula One Sidecars.
The five-time national champion and swinger Kendal Dunlop from Auckland won the second race, were third in races one and three, and are only five points off leaders Adam Unsworth and Bryce Rose in the championship.
The final round of the series is the iconic Boxing Day meeting on the Whanganui Cemetery Circuit.