Hawke's Bay Juniors International tennis
Expect stamina and fitness to be among Hawke's Bay tennis player Albert Rocard's key assets when he begins a two-year academy stint in Brisbane next month.
Those ingredients were vital for the Greendale 15-year-old as he completed four three-set matches on the way to securing the under-18 singles and doubles titles in the Kennedy Park-sponsored Hawke's Bay International Junior Tennis Tournament at his home club yesterday.
"Luke is big on fitness as well as nutrition. I wasn't that fit until Luke got me serious about tennis as a late starter in 2013," Rocard said referring to his coach and former Hawke's Bay No1 Luke Donovan.
Top seed Rocard began yesterday with a 2-6, 6-3, 10-1 win against Matamata's Teiki Sydney in his singles final.
"It was good to have the home crowd behind me and the turning point was when Mum and Dad [Anne and Marc] turned up from Crownthorpe. I had lost the first set 6-2 and was 3-0 down in the second when I fought back to win the next six games to force the super tiebreaker and that's when my superior fitness gave me the edge," Rocard recalled.
After that final Rocard's attention turned to the doubles when he combined with Hawke's Bay Lawn's Adam Winter. They had two victories before beating Aussies Reece Kelly and Corey Smith 3-6, 7-6, 10-8 in the final.
"Adam and I play together in inter-school fixtures for Napier Boys. We were down 7-5 in the super tiebreaker and I was beginning to feel fatigued after so much tennis in one day but Adam managed to pick me up again and we pulled through," Rocard explained.
Greendale's No3 man, Rocard, will be hoping for similar success in the under-16 divisions of the four-day, 160-player tournament which begin today. He expects to meet clubmate Andrew Shand in tomorrow's final as Shand returned home yesterday from the national under-18 tournament in Auckland in time to secure a berth in the Bay event.
Rocard will leave for Brisbane on January 17. His academy stint will involve four or five hours of tennis training each day combined with the remainder of his secondary school education.
"Once that is finished I want to score a division one college tennis scholarship in the United States. My dream is to one day return to New Zealand and play at Davis Cup level," he added.
Rocard was one of three Donovan-coached Greendale players to capture titles yesterday. Second seed Hunter Every beat Taranaki's Daniel Lewis 7-5, 6-1 in the final of the under-10 boys singles while the unseeded Alexandra Cave beat top seed Alex Macesic of Taranaki 6-2, 6-1 in the under-10 girls singles final.
Hawke's Bay's No 1 woman, 13-year-old Lily Verhoeven of the Hawke's Bay Lawn club, had mixed success yesterday. She combined with Manawatu's Ella Marshall to beat the Manawatu pair of Ella Wells and Olivia Shannon in their under-14 doubles final. Second seed Verhoeven was beaten by top seed Wells in their under-14 singles final. Verhoeven is the second seed in the under-16 singles which begins today.
Her clubmate Daniel Rowe was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by top seed Kurt Amey of Feilding in their under-14 singles semifinal.