Prepared to come out swinging
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.