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Wairarapa back on rep court

Player-manager Jacob Emery is pragmatic about the challenge for Wairarapa in their first hexangular tournament in four years.

Emery has included a mix of experience and youth in the eight men named, while the women will have the bare minimum of four players – all promising juniors – for the two-day tournament, featuring teams from the lower North Island, to be played at Wellington’s Renouf Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

Having eight men gives Emery plenty of options for the three rounds of fixtures. Veteran Jono Hurley will probably head the strongest men’s lineup, with former top Auckland junior Boon Huxtable likely to be at number two, followed by William Day, Shane Colton, Rudo Erasmus, Emery, Chris Wilkie, or Ed Wilkie.

Emery is particularly keen to see how teenagers Day and Colton step up to the senior representative ranks. Day won all but one singles match during the interclub season, and that loss was to Colton, who was the big improver in interclub.

“Shane has had a very good season. His ranking is climbing, but he’s a little bit lower, so he’s going to play a bit down the order, and I think he could be very dangerous,” Emery said.

“He will most probably be playing number three for us or possibly four, so he’ll be a real asset for us.”

German teenager Mara Beyerle heads the young but talented women’s lineup, with Alice Whitaker, Gabby Nicholson, and Elizabeth Whitaker completing the team. Although the four women are up-and-coming teenagers, Emery is confident they can make it through the weekend.

Most interest will centre on Beyerle and how she performs against the best women in the lower North Island. The 15-year-old exchange student was unbeaten and a class above her male opponents throughout the interclub season.

“Mara, it will be very interesting to see how she goes, and I think she’ll go really well. She’s a very good player.”

Each fixture comprises four men’s and women’s singles, a men’s double, a women’s double, and two mixed doubles.

Wairarapa play Wellington on Saturday afternoon, and Hutt Valley on Sunday morning, followed by the playoffs in the afternoon. The other pool has defending champions Kapi-Mana, Whanganui, and Taraanki.

Emery is not expecting miracles in the first year back in the competition since 2019, when a makeshift team suffered three heavy losses in finishing sixth.

“At this point, we’re happy to have the team in, and anything about that is going to be a bonus. We are realistically going to be struggling, so we’re shooting for fifth in our first year.”

Although Wellington and Hutt Valley have the greater numbers, the top players don’t always turn out for their provinces, and Emery predicts that Whanganui and Kapi-Mana will be the teams to beat.

Wairarapa team

Men – Jono Hurley, Boon Huxtable, William Day, Rudo Erasmus, Chris Wilkie, Jacob Emery, Shane Colton, and Ed Wilkie.

Women – Mara Beyerle, Alice Whitaker, Gabby Nicholson, Elizabeth Whitaker.

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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