Otago well positioned after clean sweep

Ayesha Horley
Ayesha Horley
Otago is in the box seat after the first round of the Southern Open team event in Invercargill last weekend.

Otago made a clean sweep of its ties, setting up expectations of a first Margaret Rennie Trophy victory in nearly two decades when the second and deciding round is held in Dunedin in late February.

Southland looms as Otago’s potential nemesis, having pushed Otago hard in the sides’ tie on Saturday afternoon.

Otago eventually came through seven rubbers to five, a score identical to their clash before that.

Perennial champion Southern Lakes does not seem to be the force of old, despite the presence of youthful talent in the shape of Kai Milburn and Sophie McDermott.

The team should not be written off, though, as it has staged more than one Houdini act in recent years.

North Otago was highly competitive.

Both Otago and Southland were forced to wait for doubles results to complete wins over the Oamaru-based combination.

Players to shine for North Otago included Josh Cameron and Nicky Wallace.

As expected, Otago benefited from the injection of Hartono family talent.

Peter led from the front, winning two of his three singles matches in the tough No1 spot.

Younger brother Marco made his mark with two super tiebreak doubles victories in which he was a key component.

Otago’s women performed strongly, especially meritorious showings coming from Ayesha Horley and Charlie Byers.

Byers’ best match was a three-set win over experienced Southern Lakes campaigner Suma Ito.

Other strong performers over the weekend included Southlanders Sky Lovill and Shaylee Sime.

In division 2, Otago B won both its ties, putting itself in a good position to vie for honours when all the teams converge on Dunedin in two months.

It is hoped the Stevenson Tennis Centre will be ready to host February’s division 1 ties.

 - Fraseer Richardson

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