The oldest player in Hawke's Bay's premier men's tennis competition, Simon Cowan, boasts the nickname "Mr Tennis".
It reflects Cowan's passion for the code including the amount of time he plays; at least four days each week during the summer and at least a couple during the winter. But Cowan, 61, pointed out he is still learning a trick or two off the younger players, as was the case on Saturday when he took on a player 47 years younger in Hawke's Bay under-14 representative Jacob Verhoeven during a fifth-round fixture at Napier's Onekawa courts.
"We were swapping ends and Jacob told me if I kept my water bottle in the shade of the net pole it would stay cooler longer. He was obviously feeling sorry for me," Cowan explained as he reflected on his 6-3, 6-3 singles loss, his first in the competition.
"Jacob was very consistent. I tried all of my tricks but was still outplayed ... I've got no complaints," Cowan said.
Tracta Team Kitching's No3 Cowan got his revenge when he combined with his captain Jason Kitching to beat Verhoeven and Rowe Light Team Cooper's captain Reuben Cooper 6-4, 6-0 in the top doubles match. This win was enough to keep Team Kitching one point ahead of Team Cooper at the bottom of the points table.
However, Team Cooper recorded their first victory in the competition with a 4-2 win.
Cowan, who is nine months older than the next oldest player in the comp, former Magpies rugby winger Peter Durham, pointed out he is enjoying mixing it with some of the Bay's promising juniors: "Some of the youngsters learn tennis isn't all about top spin and pace."
In the absence of captain and unbeaten No1 Shane Wilson, who had a Christmas work function, Hughes and Smyth Unichem Pharmacy Team Wilson recorded their first loss when beaten 5-1 by Jeff Gray Land Rover Team Giddy. This loss leaves Team Wilson first-equal at the top of the table with Sainsbury Logan and Williams Team Curtis, who upset Shed 2 Team Donovan 4-2 in the other tie.
Team Wilson's No2 Oscar Stewart turned up injured from a hockey training session earlier in the day and was beaten 6-0, 6-0 in his singles by Mike Hunia and in his doubles match when he combined with Sam Biss to take on Craig Giddy and Guy Howett.
Team Donovan captain Luke Donovan joined Wilson and Giddy as the only unbeaten No1s in singles play when he accounted for Damon Curtis with a 6-4, 7-5 victory. Donovan's No3 Russell Broughton, who was unbeaten in singles and doubles during all four previous rounds, lost both of his matches on Saturday.
Promising junior Max Brewster beat Broughton 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 before Broughton and Kim Cooper were beaten 6-3, 7-6 in their doubles by Curtis and Chris Ryan.