Fewer entries but quality field in women's section of Otago Indoor Open

Dennis Radford.
Dennis Radford.
The Otago Indoor Open has attracted a strong women's field but is down on numbers from last year.

The tournament begins tomorrow with qualifying games and concludes on Sunday.

The men's field had dropped from 37 competitors to a more ''manageable'' 24 this year. The quality is on a par with 2018, though.

The women's field of 14 is small but tournament match referee and organiser Dennis Radford said it was much stronger than the previous year.

''I'll give you one example,'' he said.

''Abby Mason, who is only 15, I think, and from Christchurch, beat Libby Scott 6-3, 6-0 when they played in May,'' Radford said.

''I mean she can really play. She has been overseas and touring around Asia and Australia.''

Mason has enjoyed success at ITF junior level, winning a tournament in Singapore in July.

Otago's Scott won the women's single title last year but will not be back to defend her crown. She is injured and will miss the event.

That leaves Ayesha Horley as the leading Otago female player at the tournament. The Tennis Otago development officer is the No4 seed.

The top four seeds get to skip qualifying and go straight into the main draw.

Mason is the No2 seed and North Harbour's Sofia Shing No3. Wellington's Kelly Southwood is the No1 seed and the high-profile signing.

She is a top-20 New Zealand-ranked player who has returned from a solid career in college tennis in the United States.

''She is ranked 15th in New Zealand and, when you consider the top eight or nine are pros or trying to be, she is one of the best possible players you can get in New Zealand.''

Auckland-based Otago player Ryan Eggers is the No1 seed in the men's tournament.

He will have some stiff competition from 17-year-old Wakatipu High School pupil Thomas Hartono, while Canterbury's Edward Batt would have been the No1 seed but the medical student has put the sport on the back burner while he concentrates on his studies.

If he plays up to his potential, he could be very hard to beat.

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