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Friday 17 December 2010 | Published in Regional


The 16-member Cook Islands junior tennis squad gave an impressive performance at the Waikato Junior Open in Hamilton last week – with players in several age groups making semifinals and finals.

Coach Malcolm Kajer said the vast field of more than 500 players provided plenty of competition and match play for the squad competing in the 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 age groups.

It was the first time since 1994 that the Cooks has competed in the Waikato tournament, and for Kajer’s current squad it was a chance to face the best juniors from New Zealand, Samoa, Australia and New Caledonia.

Starting this Friday, the squad will compete in the annual Auckland Christmas Tournament up to Thursday December 23.

The best result in Hamilton was posted by Lilian Maui who fought hard with an injured knee to get to the finals of the under 16 girls. She knocked out the number 3 seed in the first round Tahlia Walsh 6/2 6/3 which opened up the draw for her. In the second round she beat Nicola Audridge 6/06/0, in the quarter finals she beat Sita Clark 6/1 7/6, in the semifinals she beat Harriet Dokic 6/1 6/0. In the finals she played her heart out against the number 1 seed Deanna Haami, who made some unfair calls, and Lilian was unlucky to go down 6/7 6/7.

In the under 16 boys, Ngana Nicholas and Alex Beddoes made it to the 16s doubles finals. In the first round they beat K Jones/D Smith 2/6 6/2 10/4, in quarterfinals beat B Murray/J Olivier 6/2 5/7 10/5 and in the semis one of their opponents got injured so they had a walk over. In the finals they lost to A Waimaio/ D Trent 2/6 4/6.

The previous day Ngana had to go to the physiotherapist because of a sprained joint in his lower back. He did well to be able to continue. In the singles he made it to the round of 16 out of 128 boys. He played the number 1 seed with an injured back.

Tamarua Payne also had a back injury. Jake Bergmen was an under 14 plate finalist, playing five outstanding games to make the final. He also made it as far as the plate 16s quarterfinals. Frederick Pickering got as far as the Consolation semi finals going down to Alex Beddoes 2/6 4/6. Alex’s run to the plate finals was tough, winning four hard games before going down in the finals due to fatigue.

The squad’s younger players all did well. In the under 10 and 12 girls, Zsaleya Sword-Tua and Ngametua Arama were the under 10 doubles plate winners. Jack Woods and Andrew Terupe both won singles and doubles matches in their age groups, with Woods playing one of the longest games of the whole tournament (three and a half hours) against an evenly-matched opponent.

Kajer reports the team has been training in Auckland this week and the players are well and in good spirits, with their focus on more success before returning home from the Christmas tournament.