Tennis: Southern Lakes rebound to win trophy

Sian English (Otago) plays a forehand during her match against Pascale Leroy (Southern Lakes) during a Southern League match at Logan Park in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Sian English (Otago) plays a forehand during her match against Pascale Leroy (Southern Lakes) during a Southern League match at Logan Park in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The Southern Lakes tennis team turned around a first-round loss to Otago to win the Rennie Trophy in Dunedin this weekend. Lakes won the second round 7-5 after losing the first round on the sets countback in Queenstown.

The pivotal moments came in the doubles after the singles had been shared 4-all. Otago needed to win only two but Lakes' superior tactical appreciation of the doubles game and their chosen combinations meant they took three of the four.

A key personnel change was the addition of former WTA-ranked French woman Pascale Leroy, now resident in Wanaka, who beat Sian English 6-2, 6-3 at No 1. She was too powerful at times for her younger Otago opponent, but English competed hard and Leroy had to earn her points.

Georgia Hume, Hanna English and Jessie Stevenson were all efficiency when winning in straight sets against Suma Ito, Hannah Speight and Felicity Oxnevad, but the Otago men struggled to contribute their share.

No 1 Alex Low started to play too late against Perry Crockett and went down 6-1, 7-5 in a big-serving, hard-hitting contest. Jong Kyu Kim and Hamish Low lost in straight sets to James Smith and Chris Bradley and it was left to Paddy Ou to take the sole men's point for Otago when he beat national junior representative Miki Nobuzawa 7-6, 6-1.

Nobuzawa had just returned from a stint in South Africa and was a late replacement for an injured Mark Milburn. The three doubles wins by Lakes were relatively clear cut and Otago never threatened to overturn the continued success of Southern Lakes of recent seasons. However, with the Otago squad dominated by teenagers, and the gap closing, the future looks promising. Division 2 was won by Otago B who beat North Otago A 7-5.

Otago led 6-3 with the last three rubbers in progress late into the evening, and North Otago closed up to 6-5 with two sets in the bank on countback, but could not complete the comeback after Otago took the final set in a marathon third-set tiebreak.