IF THE glares across the Reynolds family's breakfast table in Havelock North yesterday are an indication, the new-look Hawke's Bay premier men's interclub tennis competition will be a beauty.
"Dad and I didn't talk. In our recent matches we've had a win each ... This is the big match between us," 15-year-old Robbie Reynolds said yesterday.
The Napier Boys' High School Year 10 student will take on his father Andy in the clash of the No. 2s when their respective teams, Tracta Team Kitching and Shed 2 Team Donovan, meet in today's first round of the Hawke's Bay Today Cup competition at Napier's Onekawa courts.
"I'm happy to put $20 on the match if Dad is up for it," Robbie said.
While he pointed out he had more aggression, fitness and speed than his father, he still expected a close encounter. With the pair not talking, your's truly was the go-between, and Reynolds snr was happy to play for the $20 despite claiming the underdog tag.
"The young fellah has got it over the old man at the moment. Robbie is hitting the ball hard and is too powerful.
"I could take the match if I win the first two sets, but if it goes to three I might struggle," Reynolds said.
Their respective captains, Jason Kitching and Luke Donovan, agreed competition organiser Trevor Hinton couldn't have done a better job with the draw in terms of spicing up the first round with the father-son clash.
Andy will take on another of his sons, New Zealand under-12s representative and New Zealand under-14 non-travelling reserve Finn, when his team takes on Finn's Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy Team Wilson on December 8.
Donovan, the Bay's No. 1, who also plays in the Wellington and Auckland premier men's competitions, is predicting a close tussle in the battle of the Reynolds as well as overall honours in the tie - 3-all or a 4-2 win to his side.
He is full of praise for the work Hinton has done in coming up with six even teams for the competition, which will continue until the March 16 final.
"Teams for the old four-man, club-based competition were becoming a bit depleted. This new-look comp will provide tough games every week as there is no outright No 1 team," Donovan said before flying to Auckland for last night's Caro Bowl play.
Under normal circumstances Kitching would fancy his chances of pushing Donovan the day after he has played in Auckland, but Kitching has had just three weeks of tennis after recovering from winter's squash related injuries.
"I'm lacking fitness and there might be times when I push Robbie up to the No 1 spot during the season," Kitching said.
Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy Team Wilson captain Shane Wilson was happy with the line-up he drew but at the same time threw the favourite's tag the way of today's opponents Sainsbury Logan and Williams Team Curtis.
Although with captain and No 1 Damon Curtis and No 5 John Penny unavailable, Wilson's team should open their campaign with a win.
A feature of the competition is that Child Cancer has been adopted as the event's charity. Hinton pointed out there will be fines each week for racket abuse, swearing and other misdemeanours and all money collected will go towards the charity.
Several of the players, including Hinton and Wilson, are well known for an outburst or two - often at themselves.
"I think Trevor has already set up an automatic payment system for a few of us," Wilson quipped.
Today's other tie will see Jeff Gray Land Rover Team Giddy take on Rowe Light Team Cooper.
Team Giddy's captain and No. 1, South African Craig Giddy, 42, has been in the Bay nine months after leaving Port Elizabeth.
Giddy works as a professional coach and is impressed with the even nature of the six teams.
"All the sides are so even it will come down to who wants the win the most on the day."
Tracta Team Kitching: Jason Kitching, Robbie Reynolds, Simon Cowan, Steve Pollard, Stefen Kitching, Pete (Pedro) Durham.
Shed 2 Team Donovan: Luke Donovan, Andy Reynolds, Stefan Brockley, Russell Broughton, Kim
Cooper, Bayley Chadderton.
Sainsbury Logan and Williams Team Curtis: Damon Curtis, Andrew Baker, Mike Winkley, Max
Brewster, John Penny, Duncan Reed.
Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy Team Wilson: Shane Wilson, Finn Reynolds, Trevor
Hinton, Henry Jacobs, Phil Murphy, Matt Gittings.
Rowe Light Team Cooper: Reuben Cooper, Tipene Cottrell, Zac Atkins, Jacob Verhoeven, Dennis Rowe, Dave
Jeff Gray Land Rover Team Giddy: Craig Giddy, Jordan Hinton, Mike Hunia, Alan Boult, Ron Garrick, Dave Wright.