Tennis: Men's frontrunners hoping to hold court

By Shane Hurndell

A week out from yet another unwelcome promotion in Hawke's Bay's premier men's tennis competition and Trevor Hinton is rattled.

"Yes we're still unbeaten and at the top of the table after four rounds but I'm not making any promises suggesting we will still be there next week," Hinton, the competition organiser, said as he summarised the standings after Saturday's play at Napier's Onekawa courts.

He was referring to the fact his Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy Team Wilson established a three point lead in the competition with a 4-2 win against Tracta Team Kitching. The regular No 3 had to play the No 2 singles role in the absence of New Zealand under-12 representative Finn Reynolds who was away at a national tournament and lost 4-6, 6-4, 4-6 to Steve Pollard.

"Next week Shane [No 1 and captain Shane Wilson] is away so that means I move up to No 1 and have to play Craig and look what Craig did today," Hinton said.

He was pointing to Jeff Gray Land Rover Team Giddy No 1 and captain Craig Giddy who along with Wilson is the only other unbeaten No 1 who has played all four rounds. South African Giddy beat another previously unbeaten No 1 Damon Curtis 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 during his team's 4-2 loss to Sainsbury Logan and Williams Team Curtis.

"In fact several absences next week are likely to result in the competition closing right up again," Hinton explained.

While Wilson has a Christmas function this weekend, Finn Reynolds and his brother Robbie, Team Kitching's No 2, will both be playing in national age group tournaments and Shed 2 Team Donovan's regular No 3 Stefan Brockley will have left the Bay to a new job in the South Island.

In addition to being rattled about the coming weekend's assignment Hinton also had a stiff neck after a marathon doubles battle on Saturday in which he and Wilson beat Jason Kitching and Simon Cowan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

"It must have been from watching all the lobs Simon put up," Hinton quipped.

Cowan, who is on the wrong side of 60 but nicknamed "Mr Tennis" because of the amount of time he spends playing, encouraged Kitching to play a slow game to frustrate Wilson and Hinton and with numerous lobs these tactics almost pulled off a huge upset.

Team Donovan retained second place with a 4-2 win against bottom-of-the-table Rowe Light Team Cooper.

Team Donovan captain and No.1 Luke Donovan is also unbeaten but has only played two of the four rounds because of his interclub commitments in Wellington and Auckland. Donovan's No.4 Russell Broughton is the only player to be unbeaten after four rounds in doubles and singles play.

However he isn't confident about maintaining this run when moving up to Brockley's berth. After this weekend's fifth round there will be a month-long break before the sixth round is played on January 19. Fines for a variety of misdemeanours on Saturday raised $56 for the Hawke's Bay Cancer Society.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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