Balmacewen defeats understrength St Clair

The Dunedin interclub competition resumed on Saturday following the Christmas-New Year break.

Of the six teams in division 1, last season’s runner-up, Andersons Bay, and North Otago’s Waimaru seem most likely to battle it out for the shield come the business end of the season.

Andersons Bay sits on 51 points with Waimaru close behind on 49.

Both leading teams benefit from significant depth, an important factor in the six-player team format.

Andersons Bay can call upon the likes of experienced campaigners Gavin Mockford and Heike Cebulla should regular team members be unavailable.

Likewise, Waimaru has a strong bench to back up its first choice team. The three Joshes — Cameron, Cochrane and Dalziel — are regular contributors, as are Jackson Kerr, Marshall Hore, and Robin Jamieson.

Waimaru’s women boast just as much depth in Mackenzie and Jordyn Phillips, Belinda Hirst, Nicky Fisher, and Rebecca Ryan.

Saturday’s interclub action was limited to the Balmacewen 1 versus St Clair tie.

St Clair was under strength in the absence of top-ranked man Mitch Sizemore and No2 Shaun Paringatai.

Balmacewen 1 was strengthened by the addition of former Otago No1 Paddy Ou, who has returned to Dunedin after several years in Wellington where he plied his trade for the Maungaraki club.

Ou has had a heavy workload in January, reaching the semifinals at the Wanaka Open, winning the North Otago singles title, and competing at the North Shore championships in Auckland last week.

He took his match fitness into Saturday’s singles against Jeff Elliotte, who had been promoted two spots to the No1 position for St Clair.

Elliotte put up spirited resistance, pushing Ou hard in the first set which went the way of latter 6-4. Ou found his mark more readily in the second set which he took 6-1.

Balmacewen 1 captain Gerard Farrell was too sharp for St Clair’s Sam Sherburd at No2. Ben Sinclair followed up by accounting for St Clair stalwart Robin Versteeg in straight sets. Versteeg will be better for the run after a period out with injury.

In a battle of the young guns, Hugo Barsby overcame Luka Mandich 6-2, 6-4. Barsby’s consistency paid dividends in the breezy conditions. Shreenidhi Mahamuni gave as good as she got despite going down 6-2, 6-1.

Elliotte and Sherburd pushed Ou and Farrell in the top men’s doubles which went the way of Balmacewen 1, 6-4-6-2. Balmacewen took the tie overall, six rubbers to three.

 - Fraser Richardson

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