Pre­pared to come out swing­ing

Franklin County News - - SPORT - ALAN APTED

Karaka prom­ise they won’t be the pushover that Caro Bowl new­com­ers usu­ally are.

They say they’re in Ten­nis Auck­land’s pre­mier in­ter-club com­pe­ti­tion for the long haul and are se­ri­ous enough about the chal­lenge to have spent the off sea­son think­ing long and hard about how they’re go­ing to tackle the big boys.

The re­sult is a bol­stered play­ing ros­ter that in­cludes Aus­tralians Dayne Kelly and Mav­er­ick Banes, for­mer New Zealand Davis Cup player Se­bas­tian Lavie, and the player who led Karaka’s charge into the Caro Bowl, Antony Old.

Team cap­tain and man­ager Nigel Allen said for a small coun­try-based ten­nis club to take on the gi­ants of ur­ban Auck­land re­quired some big think­ing and bold ac­tion.

‘‘I made con­tact with Se­bas­tian Lavie in the off sea­son and got him on board. He’s a for­mer Davis Cup player with an ATP ca­reer rank­ing of 784. Se­bas­tian is coach and hit­ting part­ner of tour­ing pro­fes­sional Sam Barry.’’

Lavie led Allen to Kelly and Barnes.

‘‘As he’s on the ATP tour, I asked him to keep an eye out for play­ers that might share in our vi­sion,’’ Allen said.

‘‘He came back with two Aus­tralian pro­fes­sion­als who have signed on for the sea­son.’’

Kelly, ranked 280 in the world and a reg­u­lar con­tender on the in­ter­na­tional Chal­lenger and Fu­tures tours, is Karaka’s No 1 seed.

Banes also plays on the Chal­lenger and Fu­tures tours and has a ca­reer-high world rank­ing of 305. He will play No 2, with Lavie at three and Jake Olsen at four.

The rest of the team, said Allen, was made up of some of New Zealand’s and Karaka’s finest, who got the team to where they are.

They in­clude Rod Cook, a for­mer NZ Maori cham­pion, ex-top 10 NZ ju­nior and United States col­le­giate player; Jack Guil­ford, a for­mer Waikato ju­nior champ re­puted to have one of the big­gest serves in the coun­try; Brad Pater- son, an ex-NZ dou­bles cham­pion, for­mer top 10 ju­nior and US col­le­giate player; and Allen, the club’s head coach.

‘‘Four years ago, my goal was fun­da­men­tally to gather my mates at one club in­stead of com­pet­ing against each other and hav­ing fun in the process,’’ Allen said.

‘‘It quickly be­came ap­par­ent how strong we re­ally were. Our sights changed to try to bring some­thing spe­cial to the club, cre­ate his­tory and at­tempt to break into the Caro Bowl com­pe­ti­tion within five years. We made it in four.

‘‘We’re all good mates on and off the court and have known each other since ju­nior ten­nis days. Thus our trust in each other to go out and do the job ev­ery match has been the key com­po­nent to our suc­cess.

‘‘We all love the chal­lenge and com­pet­i­tive na­ture of ten­nis. Even though ten­nis is an in­di­vid­ual sport we’re very much about play­ing as a team. Ev­ery win is a group win the guys take a lot of pride in.’’

Karaka Ten­nis Club pres­i­dent Wayne Kidd is thrilled it can bring top flight in­ter-club ac­tion to the area.


Karaka Ten­nis Club’s Caro Bowl team in­cludes Jack Guil­ford, Se­bas­tian Lavie, Nigel Allen, Brad Pater­son and Dayne Kelly, with Ste­fan Young of team spon­sor Con­cretec NZ.

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