Clubs’ replacements make their mark

The South Island secondary schools finals tournament in Timaru over the weekend may have left most division 1 interclub teams scrambling to fill their rosters, but the gaps were more than adequately filled by an influx of new talent from Dunedin’s tertiary institutions.

Andersons Bay Guthrie was the main beneficiary on Saturday, fielding talented South Canterbury product George McAleer and Rakin Yusuf-Risa on the men’s side and Taranaki’s Toscana Bernie and Bailey Bruckner on the women’s, along with Zoe Smith, of Southland. Fourth-placed Andersons Bay Guthrie took on second-placed stablemate Andersons Bay Rennie in a derby at Logan Park.

Although the Rennie combination came out the victor by 7 rubbers to 2, the overall result belied the close nature of many of the matches.

Some of the best battles were on the women’s side where tight singles wins to Andersons Bay Rennie players Makayla Ramage and Angela Mockford proved to be crucial.

Ramage notched up a meritorious win over Taranaki native Toscana, taking the result in a third set super tiebreak. Mockford did likewise as she overcame Bruckner, another Taranaki product, in a three-set encounter.

The men’s doubles was another match that could have gone either way. Andersons Bay Rennies Carlos Reid and Mike Smith edged Anthony Mirfin and George McAleer in another three-set nail-biter.

Yusuf-Risa picked up a rubber for the Guthrie team in his 6-0, 6-1 win over Mark Pickering, who could be forgiven for feeling hard done by, having kept his opponent on court for more than two hours.

In the other tie on Saturday, competition leader Balmacewen extended its round robin lead with a 7-2 result over Green Island.

The best match of this encounter was the number two men’s singles, between Gerard Farrell and Zane Gray. Farrell took the match 6-4, 7-5, but he had to fight back from a break down in the second set after suffering discomfort in a finger joint. The addition of an extra overgrip to his racquet gave Farrell the relief he needed to close out the match.

Willa Faber and Rebecca Ryan of Green Island had an unexpected straight sets doubles victory over Otago reps Kaitlyn Wilkinson and Jessie Stevenson of Balmacewen. However, the overall result had been decided by that time, following regulation wins to Balmacewen’s Jack Warner over Mat McCutcheon and to Nick Cutfield over Green Island’s Louis Gray.

Interclub tennis takes a break next weekend, when most Division 1 players will be participating in the Otago Open.

 - Fraser Richardson

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