A tense finish to the Southern Tennis League Division 1
final is expected in Dunedin this weekend.
After the first round in Queenstown in November, Otago holds
a slender two-set advantage over Southern Lakes, following
their countback win by 15 sets to 13, when rubbers were tied
Lakes has been strengthened by the addition of world-ranked
veteran Felicity Oxnevad, at the top of the order. Otago won
the women's section 5-1 in the first round.
Otago has the same women's squad as last time, an all-junior
line-up of Sian English, Georgia Hume, Hanna English and
Jessie Stevenson. They will have their work cut out with Suma
Ito-Sheehan and Hannah Speight, a member of the national
title winning 16s team, dropping down a place. Lakes has yet
to name its fourth player. Otago has three players from the
nationals winners in Sian English, Hume and Stevenson.
The Lakes men named are Perry Crockett, Mark Milburn - both
former Otago titleholders - junior James Smith and the
experienced Chris Bradley. Crockett had a professional
playing career before turning to coaching, and Milburn had a
top-10 national ranking at his peak. Bradley was a leading
national junior in the past, and Smith has been playing ITF
junior events this season.
The veterans have the advantage of having to play only one
tie this weekend, and can avoid the need to recover as was
needed in the round robin format of previous years.
Otago has lost loan player Janos Manyai, the formerly highly
ranked Hungarian, who has opted to play for his adopted home
province of North Otago in Division 2. This is balanced to
some extent by the addition of fresher Hamish Low from
Nelson, the brother of No 1 Alex. He was a late addition
after the withdrawal of Auckland student Aaron Hicks.
Alex Low was the only men's winner in the first round but
will find it harder in the top spot. The other Otago members
are schoolboys Jong Kyu Kim and Paddy Ou, both of whom have
stepped up this season, and relegated Southland Open winner
Ryan Eggers, and former Otago player of the year Campbell
Higgins, to the second division.
Division 2 has six teams playing in two sections of three,
with playoffs to follow. Otago B meets Southland A and North
Otago B in section play, while North Otago A, which has
strong depth in the men, Southern Lakes B and South
Canterbury A comprise the other section.
Playoffs in Division 2 will take place tomorrow afternoon, at
Logan Park, while section play starts today at 9am. The
Division 1 final, also at Logan Park, begins tomorrow, at