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Tennis Talent Turn Out For Maori Tournament

Tennis Talent Turn Out For Maori Tournament

New Zealand’s top female tennis player will wrap up one of her best years yet with a return to the tournament that played a crucial role in her development.

Kiwi number one Shelley Stephens will join other leading women’s players such as Leanne Baker, Tracey O’Connor and Rewa Hudson in coaching children at this year’s 77th Aotearoa Maori Tennis Championships in Hamilton from December 27 to 31.

Stephens – who is currently New Zealand’s highest ranked WTA women’s singles player (338) – competed at the Maori tournament with Baker and Hudson when they were youngsters. The 26-year-old was a finalist for Senior Maori Sportswoman of the Year at the Maori Sports Awards earlier this month (Dec).

Aotearoa Maori Tennis Association president Dick Garratt says the competition is one of the oldest family fixtures on the Maori sporting calendar – the 80th anniversary is in 2006 – and continues to be a major influence in the development of the country’s future tennis stars.

Defending men’s champion, Eru Lyndon from Wellington, and top Caro Bowl players Jeffrey Brise, Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Childs will also be in action on the courts while media stars such as Julian Wilcox and Scotty Morrison will take part in the social grade.

The tournament caters for a range of age groups including under-10s, under-12s, under-14s, under-16s, under-18s and seniors as well as veterans’ events while a mokopuna or beginners section is named after the association’s patron, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

The venue is the Waikato Tennis Centre in Dey Street, Hamilton, which has the competition’s taonga (trophies) and other mementos displayed in a specially designed cabinet highlighting the association’s history. For more information, visit the website www.amta.co.nz, e-mail info@amta.co.nz or phone 09 278 6591.

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