Terry Mitchell will stay Northland's tennis king for one more year after he defended his men's singles title at the Northland tennis championships last weekend.
The 51-year-old three-time champion triumphed over friend and long-time rival Mike Clapshaw, 6/2 6/3, at the Thomas Neale tennis centre on Saturday. Clapshaw and Mitchell combined to win the men's doubles on Sunday.
"It was a tough match but it was nice to get a win over [Clapshaw]," Mitchell said.
"I like playing to try and win that Northland title, it only comes round once a year so it's good to partake in it and boost up the numbers."
The tournament only featured about 28 players with 11 men contesting the singles, five male pairs in the doubles, two pairs in the women's doubles and nine juniors in the U12 and U14 age groups. There were not enough women for a singles competition.
Mitchell said he was sad to see numbers of tennis players in Northland dwindling.
"They have been pretty low for quite a while, it was a pretty disappointing turnout to be honest. There is a good number of men that play interclub each week so there's more players around but for some reason they don't participate in competitions."
He said a number of younger players were being drawn away from the sport to other codes or were travelling down to other areas to play in better competitions.
"There's that much more sport available to people now than there what there used to be.
"For young tennis players, they are looking to move to Auckland or further afield because there's not much competition here for them in Northland."
Both Mitchell and Clapshaw played in Auckland every fortnight for the Mission Bay tennis club so they could keep up the quality of their games.
Mitchell said the singles final was well-contested with long and hard-fought rallies, but it was a game he knew he could win.
"I just managed to concentrate on each point and let the ball come to me and not worry about the score.
"As soon as you start focusing on the result, things can start to go downhill and Mike is one of those players that would take advantage of that because he's just relentless and doesn't let up."
He said he tried to target Clapshaw's traditionally-strong forehand, to try to open up one side of the court.
"I managed to throw in a few serves down that side which aced him because he wasn't really expecting it, more expecting me to target his backhand."
Mitchell said the key for young players was to work hard and get good coaching so you could make sure you were taught properly.
Northland Tennis chairperson Raewyn Heywood said she was disappointed with the turnout and lamented about how people were moving away from the competitive side of the game.
"A lot of people just want to go and have a casual hit nowadays and not a competitive tournament.
"We also lose a lot of the kids to other codes so that doesn't help."
Northland Tennis Championship results:
Terry Mitchell defeated Mike Clapshaw 6/2 6/3
Plate Greg Miller defeated Nigel Lewin 7/5 6/4
Cons Plate Kyle Apaapa defeated Richard Smith 6/2 6/2
Terry Mitchell & Mike Clapshaw defeated Mike Walters & Lance Hick 6/3 6/4
Girls 14U Champion: Eve Finlayson
Girls 12U Champion: Chloe Thomsen
Boys 14U Champion: Thomas Powell
Boys 12U Champion: Peter Roberts
Boys 10U Champion: Caleb Yeates