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Men’s matches are key in interclub final

Martinborough will start warm favourites to win their sixth Gawith Shield championship in eight years when they battle Ōpaki on Sunday for supremacy in the Wairarapa Tennis Regional One Interclub final.

The two teams met last Saturday, with Ōpaki taking the honours 5–4, but on that occasion, Martinborough were missing two of their regular men, Ed Wilkie and Shane Colton.

Those two will be back on their home grass courts on Sunday, giving the Southerners a decided edge; however, Ed Wilkie is wary of the threat posed by Ōpaki’s number one and two men, Boon Huxtable and Alex Randall.

“If Alex Randall turns up and hits the ball as clean as he can, that’s a very tough match for any of our men, and if Boon brings the form he had last week, which was very clean hitting and very consistent, that will be a tough match; it’s going to be an interesting final,” Ed Wilkie said.

“We can’t take them lightly, and we’ve had a couple of close matches, but having a full-strength men’s team certainly makes us feel a lot better about this weekend. What happens in the men will decide it.”

Chris Wilkie will take Martinborough’s number one spot, followed by Ed Wilkie, Shane Colton, and Marco de Groot in the singles, while Rick Wilkie and Matt Nicholson could come in for the doubles. The promising Gabi Nicholson and Katherine Jacobsen are likely to play the women’s singles, with Marta Wojcikowski and Johanna de Groot possible doubles players.

If Ōpaki front with the same team that beat Martinborough last week, that would see Huxtable at number one, Randall at two, then Chris Davidson and Duncan Oakley, while Tori Bunny is likely to lead the women, with Belinda Day or Anna Rutherford the other possibility.

A Martinborough victory would be their second in a row and sixth since 2017, with Carterton the only club to break their run in 2018 and 2022.

Play is scheduled to get underway on the traditional Martinborough grass courts at 11am on Sunday.

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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