Rynold Timothy has taken the lead in the battle that is fast becoming one of the great Hawke's Bay tennis rivalries.
The Tennis Eastern Men's Residential final took place in perfect playing conditions this weekend at Hawke's Bay Lawn Tennis Club in Marewa.
Defending champion Dan Rowe of Hawke's Bay Lawn, who was a member of the winning Hikurangi team, that won the inaugural NZ premier league, once again took on Timothy of Hastings Tennis Club.
This has been the makeup of the men's premier grade final for the past three years with each player winning the title once.
Rowe won last year's final in convincing fashion and the smart money would have been on him once again to lift the title.
However, Timothy had other ideas and used his experience to ensure that those that came to watch were treated to a great contest.
Timothy who grew up in Kochi, India moved to Hawke's Bay in 2015. His tennis CV makes for impressive reading and stints overseas in Germany have played a significant part in helping him develop into a fine tennis player.
However, he paid special tribute to his father and brothers who introduced him to tennis and were great support in helping him chase his dreams.
Timothy arrived at the final with three minutes to go.
It was revealed that this was due to his father feeding no fewer than 300 balls to his son's backhand as Hastings tennis club, in preparation for the final.
When play did get under way it was Rowe that started impressively, taking out the first set convincingly 6-2.
When asked what was going through his mind Timothy said: "There were a couple of points on both our serves that could have gone either way, which would have meant that the score could have been very different. So, I still knew that I was in the match and I just needed to find a way of putting Dan under pressure."
The second set looked to be heading the way of Rowe with him serving with a 3-1 lead. However, Timothy started to find his rhythm and he broke back to get the set back on serve at 3 – 2.
With his confidence growing Timothy started to assert himself more in the match and the quality of tennis from both players made for great viewing.
The second set went to a tie-break and Timothy kicked into gear and attacked Rowe's serve, winning the tie-breaker 7-3 to send the match into a deciding third set.
No one could have predicted what unfolded in the third set. At two games all in the third set fatigue was setting in and Timothy started to get severe cramps in his thigh, forcing him to take a medical time out.
Surely, now this would be the break in the match that Rowe was looking for - a wounded opponent that he could move around the court whilst dictating points.
Timothy said: "I thought that this was going to be the turning point and I knew that I just had to play more aggressively to stay in the match'.
But at 4-3, Rowe too was starting to suffer with severe cramp in his thigh which gave Timothy the boost he needed.
The two of them looked like boxers who had been in a slugfest approaching the final 12th round and it now was down to a case of desire and who could hold their nerve.
Rowe although not fully fit, was moving better than Timothy as they approached the end of the third set.
Timothy said: "Dan chose to try and stay in the rallies and had he gone for his groundstrokes and hit with some more aggression I am certain he would have won, as I was struggling to move".
Timothy held a crucial service game to go 6 – 5 up in the third set and put the pressure firmly back on Rowe.
Timothy attacked Rowe's serve and set the points up for him to control and at 15-40 down, Rowe's backhand sailed wide to hand victory to Timothy after two and a half hours of play.
Score: Rynold Timothy of Hastings Tennis Club beat Daniel Rowe of Hawke's Bay Lawn 2-6, 7-6, 7-5