It was a taste of the big time for a predominantly young Whanganui team facing a red hot Hawke's Bay, who continued their Christie Cup dominance with a 21-3 shut out at the Basset St courts on Sunday.
Without their international star Paige Hourigan, their previous professional players and most of their seasoned cup veterans, Whanganui were not expecting miracles against Central Districts' strongest squad, who had also beaten Taranaki by the same margin in January, while Manawatu opted to default their challenge rather than suffer a similar fate.
But wanting to keep representative tennis going locally, while developing depth by giving a lot of debutantes a chance to play senior level, WTC president Dave Butters said it had still been worth it to front up.
"Manawatu didn't play them. Guess they thought, 'gonna get a hiding and its pointless'.
"For us to play them was really good. It was a pretty awesome team.
"It was like Fiji playing the All Blacks."
Hawke's Bay was of a similar mindset as they left birthday boy co-captain Luke Donovan and former New Zealand No 1 Dan Willman at home to blood two newcomers, picking their squad from the four major clubs in their region.
Whanganui managed one win in each of the three disciplines – singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
"The highlight today was our boy took out their pro player," Butters said.
His son and team coach-captain Kyle Butters defeated Hawke's Bay No1 man Rob Reynolds 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, in the battle of former United States college players.
Reynolds is looking to climb into the professional ranks, while Butters is focusing on coaching and administration after injury curtailed that path.
The Hawke's Bay No1 got revenge in the men's doubles, as he and Jacob Verhoeven beat the Butters brothers in Kyle and Sam.
Whanganui's No 3 women's doubles pair of Rachel Cronin and Dale Turner picked up the second victory when they defeated Sophie Ward and Roisin Dinan 6-3, 6-1.
The third win was in the No2 mixed doubles match, as Nick Caton, grandson of the patron of the club, and Ngakuira Osborne, niece of former All Black Glen, beat Verhoeven and Olivia Addis 4-2, 4-3.
Whanganui was also unlucky in a couple of other games.
Kate Davey had been leading 4-1 in the third set of her No 5 women's singles game with Abby Oliver, who came back to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Whanganui's former coach Jono Spring went up 6-2 in the first set against Alby Hailes in the battle of the No 2 men, but Hailes recovered to run out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 winner.
Hawke's Bay therefore retained the cup for the full season for the first time since winning it in January last year.
However, Dave Butters said some of their stars should be available next time Whanganui challenge for the cup, with the wider squad better off for the experience if required as lower seeded squad members.
"I've changed the dates for next year, so we're going to have a pretty spectacular team playing them next year.
"I reckon we've got a really good shot. Just a week and a half early.
"We're playing them last, so it doesn't matter what happens against the other guys, it's only going to matter what happens against Hawke's Bay."
Also coming up next season will be the Basset St courts hosting the Aotearoa Maori Tennis Championships in December, which will be the first time in 93 years.