Fri, Dec 15, 2023 11:52 AM
Rapaura Wairau River Blanc are the 2023 Marlborough premier interclub champions.
Blanc’s victory, coming amid a year of centenary celebrations for the grass court club, was hard-earned. They faced a Marlborough Forrest Wines Whero side who have had their noses in front of the pack all season and were top qualifiers going into Wednesday evening’s decider at the Marlborough courts.
Afte the first round of doubles the odds were slightly in Whero’s favour. In the men’s double, Whero’s Chris Nott and Oscar Sandford-Jury swept to victory over Ant Walkenhorst and Jared Bell, a combination of solid service games, coupled with playing the big points better, taking them to a 6-1, 6-3 victory.
On the adjoining court Rapaura fought back, Heidi Stenhouse-Allen and Clyde Sowman eventually getting the better of Whero’s Josh Harris and Mieko Kimura 6-0, 6-7, 10-8. However, with the Whero pairing able to force the match into a super tiebreaker, the defending champs took a slight advantage into the four singles clashes.
Both the men’s games went down to the wire. In the top single Sandford-Jury did battle with Walkenhorst. The first set went to Walkenhorst 6-4, but former top junior Sandford-Jury fought back, taking the second 6-2. The super tiebreaker was tight, Walkenhorst holding his nerve to pick up a vital point for Blanc.
In the other men’s match, Nott played Bell and made a flying start, winning the first set 6-1. However Bell hung tough and claimed the second 7-6 to set up a another super tiebreaker. This time it was the Whero player who prevailed, Nott winning it 10-5.
The other two matches were not as tight, both going the way of Blanc and deciding the result.
Sowman used his experience to get the better of gritty youngster Harris, prevailing 6-4, 6-4, while Stenhouse-Allen produced some outstanding tennis to overcome Kimura 6-1, 6-2, handing Rapaura their first premier title for several years.
Meanwhile, on the previous Saturday, the Marlborough residential championships were staged on the Rapaura club’s grass courts, in difficult, windy conditions.
Although the number of entrants was disappointing, just five in the men and four in the women’s draw, the standard was high and the winners clearcut.
Sebastian On took out the men’s title, beating Jared Bell in the final 6-1, 6-3. Bell had earlier beaten Glen Cameron to book a place in the decider. Cameron downed Max Sowman 6-2, 6-1 to claim third spot.
Ella Sowman took the women’s title, which was played in a round-robin format. She beat all three opponents in straight sets, Eveline Apthorp van der Linden being runner-up with the second-best record.