South African Craig Giddy set tongues wagging on day one of the new-look Hawke's Bay premier men's tennis competition at Napier's Onekawa courts on Saturday.
Giddy, 42, who has been in the Bay for nine months working as a professional coach, was one of two unbeaten No1s and guided his Jeff Gray Land Rover Team Giddy to a 5-1 win against Rowe Light Team Cooper. During his 7-5, 6-1 singles win against Reuben Cooper, Giddy did enough to suggest he could more than rattle the province's top two men, Luke Donovan and Shane Wilson, later in the Hawke's Bay Today Cup competition.
However Giddy didn't want to get too carried away with his own form afterwards and preferred to throw the kudos the way of his entire squad.
"It was a good team effort and didn't our road runner do well," Giddy said referring to former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby flanker Hugh Reed, who was a late replacement for his side.
Playing at No4, Reed beat his Rowe Light Team Cooper opponent, Hawke's Bay under-14s representative Jacob Verhoeven, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Reed's Napier Technical premier rugby teammate Tipene Cottrell recorded Team Cooper's only victory, beating former Hawke's Bay Unicorns rugby league representative Mike Hunia 7-5, 6-4.
Hunia was a nationally ranked tennis junior throughout the 1980s when playing for his home province of Bay of Plenty. Giddy will miss out on the opportunity to play Donovan as Donovan will be out of town playing in the Wellington and Auckland competitions this weekend. "We'll be out to take advantage of the top dog being away," Giddy said.
Wilson was the other unbeaten No1 on the day and his Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy team beat a below-strength Sainsbury Logan and Williams Team Curtis side 5-1. Each week in the competition players will be fined for a variety of misdemeanours and Wilson was the biggest contributor to the day's tally of $54 - which goes to Child Cancer - with $7. While $2 of Wilson's fine was for swearing, $5 was for a no-show at the pre-competition photo shoot for team captains. Wilson also won the prize for the shot of the day, a winner while stretched outside the doubles posts.
Wilson's team includes the youngest player in the competition, New Zealand under-12s representative Finn Reynolds, who was also unbeaten. Reynolds' older brother, 15-year-old Robbie, was unbeaten for Tracta Team Kitching and beat his father Andy 6-3, 6-4 in the eagerly awaited No2 singles match to win the $20 bet the pair had. Reynolds Snr was playing for Shed 2 Team Donovan who beat Kitching's side 4-2. The oldest player in the competition, 60-year-old former Magpies winger Peter Durham, played No4 for Kitching's team and lost his singles match 6-0, 6-1 to former Wairarapa and Manawatu tennis representative Russell Broughton.
The competition replaces the old club-based four-man competition. And with everyone playing at the same venue, players get an opportunity to do more homework on their opponents for the following week.
Each team plays each other twice and the final is scheduled for March 16.