A young Otago tennis team took the honours in the first
round of the Southern League in Queenstown this weekend.
It beat Southland 10-2 on Saturday and Southern Lakes 6-6 (15
sets to 13) yesterday, while Lakes beat Southland 12-0 in
Saturday's early round.
The win against Southland came after Otago won all eight
men's and women's singles, and rested No1 man Janos Manyai,
who had a sore shoulder, in the doubles. Both lower-order
doubles were lost as Carlos Reid and Jong Kyu Kim, and Hanna
English and Jessie Stevenson, went down.
After being humiliated 10-2 by Lakes last season, Otago made
a concerted effort to get the best players to travel, and the
national champion junior girls' team being available made the
team much stronger.
It was able to win all four singles against Lakes, with Sian
English at No1 fighting back from a first-set tiebreak loss
to win in three sets.
The men were expected to struggle more, but the addition of
student Alex Low, who was flown back from Auckland for the
weekend, was pivotal. He beat James Smith 6-2, 6-1 to take
the only point for the men.
Manyai fought long and hard against former professional Perry
Crockett, going down 6-4 in the third set. This, after
strings broke in all his rackets, completed a frustrating
Jong Kyu Kim lost to Chris Bradley in a third-set tiebreak
and Paddy Ou lost to national junior rep Miki Nobuzawa,
leaving Otago up 5-3 with the doubles to play and with a set
in the bank.
The experienced Lakes men's pairs won both doubles, with
former Otago Open titleholder Mark Milburn being brought in
as a specialist.
Hanna English and Stevenson took their match and Sian English
and Georgia Hume had a set against Suma Ito-Shennan and
Hannah Speight but lost the next two in tiebreaks.
However, Otago already had enough sets to ensure the
countback win. Because the points are accumulated over two
weekends, the Lakes fightback ensures an exciting finale when
the second round is held in Dunedin in February.