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Monday 19 December 2011 | Published in Regional


The touring national junior tennis squad returned home over the weekend wiser and more experienced players.

The local players began their tour in Hamilton before heading to Gisborne for the Poverty Bay Junior Tennis Championships in Gisborne.

One hundred and eighty players from around New Zealand and overseas are competing in the Poverty Bay competition, which was held at five different venues around Gisborne city, mostly on synthetic grass courts.

Kajer said all the local players found playing on the foreign surface a challenge because they are not used to synthetic grass, which is considered a fast, sliding surface and favours the flat hitter.

The islands top female player Lilian Maui was the golden girl and toast of the team winning the womens under 18 division in Hamilton and in Gisborne.

As the number one seed in her age group, she smashed her way to the final against an Australian player named Alise Nacci. Maui started nervously and lost her first game 6-7 but surged ahead to win the next two 6-1 and 6-3.

Maui and Vaine Koteka also won the doubles in the under 18 age group.

Back home the players will no doubt hit the Nikao Tennis Centre to improve on areas of their games that they feel need more work.

With school holidays also now in full swing the courts are certain to become the second home for the tennis players who will take part in a number of school holiday tennis programmes and tournaments.