Malcolm Shield 14u representative team, Cosmo Price, Sam Brookes, middle Coach Kolie Van Zyl, Tina Waine, Rani McGuire, Harry Pugh, Luke Innes-Walker, Eden Carter, Ashley Welsh. Photo: Supplied.

Young guns firing

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The Nelson tennis season hit full swing as juniors across the region battled it out at the interschool tournament last week.

A record numbers of primary (71) and intermediate (48) students from across the region took part in the annual event and Nelson Bays Tennis Association regional coordinator Ali McQuillan says there was plenty of quality tennis on display.

“The standard of play and behaviour on and off court was amazing, players enjoying all levels of competition with enthusiasm and in the spirit of sportsmanship.”

Winners of the interschool tournaments will go on to represent the Nelson region at the South Island Championships in Timaru at the end of November.

St Joseph’s student Lucy Mitchell took out the primary girl’s competition with Nayland’s Connor Edmonds claiming the boy’s title.

In the intermediate tournament, Broadgreen’s Ashley Welsh was victorious while Mapua superstar Harry Pugh unsurprisingly dominated his division.

The players’ attention then shifted to reclaiming the Malcolm Shield off neighbours Marlborough on Sunday with eight of the region’s top players travelling over to Blenheim.

Ali says the boy’s team faced tough competition from Marlborough, conceding all but one match in the singles; Harry Pugh winning in straight sets 6/2, 6/4 against Lucca Wiseman.

“Nelson girls came through strongly in their singles reversing the boys result; Rani McGuire (captain) displaying mental tenacity when it mattered, winning all three of her matches.”

Going into the final mixed doubles leg of the fixture, Nelson needed to win the majority of the matches to snatch the shield.

However, only winning two out of the four closed the fixture at 9/7 to Marlborough to keep the shield over the hill.

“Close matches and challenging competition for our youngsters made for a great day of tennis,” Ali says.

A consolation for Nelson saw Rani McGuire and Harry Pugh selected to represent Canterbury in January’19 in the Nations Teams event.