Mid-Canterbury is hosting Tennis Canterbury’s premier interclub this weekend for the traditional “away game”, which Tiller describes as a season highlight for players.
The annual Ashburton fixture was introduced some years ago, recognising that the mid-Canterbury based premier players have to travel to Christchurch each week for competition.
“It is now one of (the) most anticipated rounds of the season,” Tiller said.
Elmwood stalwart Tiller faces the daunting prospect of playing one of the country’s top players, Cashmere’s James Meredith, who have showed his class this season in interclub locally and in Auckland’s Caro Bowl competition.
Tiller goes into the game on a winning note having secured both the singles and doubles championships at last weekend’s mid-Canterbury feature, the Gala Cup tournament.
He says Cashmere, who cruised past Bishopdale 5-1 in its last interclub match, is a top team spearheaded by the Meredith brothers, James, Tim and Matt, the consistent Harry Weeds, its young stars Liam Barrett and Lucas Evans, and the McHarg brothers, Johnny and Tim.
He beat the accomplished Don Turner who won the Australian Masters singles title in Hobart, in the week leading up to the New Zealand tournament.
In the same week Cashmere’s top women’s players, Ruby Young and Lucia Gale won the International Tennis Federation’s J100 doubles championship in Auckland.
Elmwood has strong players to call on for this week’s key match-up.
Its ranks have been boosted in recent weeks with the inclusion of mid-Canterbury juniors, Riley Breen, Tyler Leonard and Ryan Watt.
“There will be plenty of local support for Elmwood on Saturday given the opportunity the club gives to our young players as they move up to the premier grade,” Tiller said.
“It is just such an excellent team environment for them to be in as they gain experience.”
Tiller predicts a large number of locals will turn out to watch the region’s top players in action, given Ashburton interclub has been switched to Friday night.
“Our board chair, Peter Leonard will have the biggest smile on his face all day as he juggles organising play, hosting the crowd and manning the barbecue.
“It really is an occasion.”
Although beaten by Cashmere in its last interclub match, Bishopdale’s young team have an easier task this week against Edgeware Waimairi which was thumped in the round by Burnside Park.
Burnside’s Finn Emslie-Robson, Jordan Edwards, Emilio Gonzaga, Ricky Kotepong and Jamie Poole this week take on the winless Te Kura Hagley.
In the women’s competition, the tightest clash will be between Cashmere and Te Kura Hagley, which are placed second and fourth on the points table.
Te Kura Hagley, a team brimming with experience, was well beaten in their last match by Elmwood, while Cashmere have enjoyed two wins in the post-Christmas competition.
Elmwood plays Waimairi after two of their players, Tessa McCann and Holly-Jane Feutz, were dominant in the Gala Cup, with McCann winning both the women’s singles and doubles.
In the other match the young Bishopdale team lines up against Shirley.
Burnside Park 20
Edgeware Waimairi 12
Te Kura Hagley 5
Te Kura Hagley 17
By Diane Keenan