Tennis player flies in to grab primary title
Young Kaikoura tennis player Oliver Burra made the most of a ‘‘flying visit’’ from his hometown when he picked up the Marlborough primary school title in Blenheim on Wednesday.
Rather than take the arduous seven-hour inland road journey to participate in the annual Marlborough primary schools tournament, 12-year-old Burra travelled north in a chartered aircraft. He then ensured the money spent on the plane ride was not in vain, claiming the boys’ title despite being seeded sixth among a strong field. It is though he is the first Kaikoura player to win a title at the primary champs for over quarter of a century.
His mother, Noriko Burra, who is chairperson of the 30-strong Kaikoura Junior Tennis Club, said the club had received Lottery funding to cover the travel costs. Initially it was hoped that more Kaikoura players would be on the plane but an untimely school camp spoiled that plan, leaving just Burra and 13-year-old Bridget Smith to make the trip.
The pro-active club has struggled to get professional coaching for their top performers since the November 2016 earth- quake, the lengthy trip to Blenheim making it difficult. However, they have secured extra funding to pay for coaches to drive up from Christchurch every week and the players have thrived. They have also received help from Whale Watch and the Kaikoura Lions.
Noriko said her son had practised hard for the event.
The Marlborough tournament, staged at the Forrest Marlborough Tennis Centre attracted 59 entrants and featured some highquality encounters.
Burra claimed top spot in the boys’ division with a 9-4 win in the title decider over second seed Joseph Sandford-Jury, from Bohally. In the semi-final Burra defeated top seed Lucca Wiseman of Bohally 9-6 while SandfordJury downed fellow Bohally student and eighth seed Nico Elworthy, 9-3. Wiseman went on to take out third place with a 6-0 win over Elworthy.
The top year six student was Felix Parkinson of Rapaura, who ended up in fifth place overall. The consolation winner was William Poff of Bohally.
In the girls division, No 1 seed Lily Parkinson of Rapaura had a comfortable 9-1 win over schoolmate and second seed Olivia Marfell, Parkinson dropping only two games over her four matches on her way to the title.
Parkinson defeated Rapaura’s Millie Bushell 9-1 in the semifinals while Marfell beat Ella Sowman, also of Rapaura, 9-4 in the other semi. Bushell defeated Sowman 6-3 to claim third position. The leading year six student was Ella Sowman while the girls consolation winner was Katie Hedgman from Bohally.
The top two open boys and girls, as well as the top year six boy and girl, are eligible to attend the South Island Primary Schools Tournament in Timaru on November 27-28.
Kaikoura player Oliver Burra in action at the Marlborough primary school championships on Wednesday.