Happy Birthday Luke Donovan ... the Christie Cup can be locked away for the winter.
That was the text message from Tennis Eastern's development officer Sean Davies to Donovan, the Hawke's Bay co-captain, after the Bay retained the symbol of Central Districts tennis supremacy with a 21-3 away walloping of Whanganui today.
Davies managed the Hawke's Bay team on the trip and Donovan, who turned 36 on Saturday, was one of two experienced Bay players who were withdrawn from the travelling team when it was revealed Whanganui were going to be well below strength.
Former New Zealand No 1 Dan Willman was the other.
"Once we realised Whanganui were going to be missing several key players we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to give some of our younger players experience at this level," Davies said.
Greendale's River Apatu made his Christie Cup debut and was unbeaten in all three of his fixtures.
Apatu beat Sam Butters 6-2, 6-2 in his No 6 singles clash, combined with clubmate Jono Fall to beat Nick Caton and Shane Stanfield 6-2, 7-5 in the No 3 men's doubles clash and another clubmate Abby Oliver to beat Butters and Skye Caseley 4-3, 5-4 in the No 6 mixed doubles match.
Davies pointed out two matches were particularly memorable for him. Oliver displayed real grit as she recovered from a 4-1 deficit in the third set to complete a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory against Kate Davey in her No 5 singles clash.
Greendale's Alby Hailes also produced a gutsy fightback after losing the first set 6-2 to win the next two 6-3, 6-3 against Whanganui's No 3 man Jono Spring.
No 1 man Rob Reynolds, of the Havelock North club, was the only Hawke's Bay player to drop a singles match. He was beaten 5-7, 6-3, 4-6by the hosts' player/coach Kyle Butters, who like Reynolds, has had experience in the United States university system.
Whanganui's No 3 women's doubles pair of Rachel Cronin and Dale Turner posted the hosts' second victory when they beat Sophie Ward and Roisin Dinan 6-3, 6-1.
Whanganui's only other win came in the No 2 mixed doubles match which saw Nick Caton and Ngakuira Osborne beat Hawke's Bay Lawn's Jacob Verhoeven and Havelock North's Olivia Addis 4-2, 4-3.
Like Apatu, Greendale's Dinan, was also making her senior debut for the Bay. She won her No 6 singles match 6-2, 6-1 against Caseley and combined with Fall to beat Stanfield and Dale Turner 5-4, 5-4 in the No 5 mixed doubles match.
Earlier this summer Hawke's Bay beat Taranaki 21-3 and Manawatu by default in their other Christie Cup fixtures. Hawke's Bay has held the cup since January last year.