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Wild weather, sickness and changing venues were just some of the obstacles overcome by the Scots College tennis team in winning their third National Secondary Schools title in the past four years in Auckland last week.
“Our number two seed Finley Hall was vomiting early in the week so he missed a lot of matches and had to be replaced by our fourth and fifth seeds, but there is little between them anyway. It was a real good effort by everyone,” top seed Josh Snowden-Poole acclaims.
There are eight teams at Nationals and they contest six matches (four singles and two doubles) over the course of a fixture. Scots easily accounted for Auckland Grammar School and Tauranga Boys’ College 6-0 in their first two outings, though National Under-14 champion Reece Falck proved a feisty competitor in the latter encounter.
In the last group match Scots tackled Wellington College in a replay of the Central Region final. It proved to be a nail biter.
“We won five three on a count back. What happens if the rubber is tied the winner is determined by the most sets won and fortunately we won more sets than them,” Snowden-Poole recalls.
St. Kentigern College have been Scots’ biggest rival in recent times. In 2016 St. Kent’s beat Scots in the National final. Surprisingly St. Kent’s was tipped over by Christ’s College in pool play resulting in final replay in the semis.
“That was a quite a surprise, but Christ’s had a good team. Dylan Heap the National Under-16 champion is my mate and he was awesome for them,” Snowden-Poole says.
Wellington College would provide an awesome challenge in the final. Not only are the two teams evenly matched because “depth is great” in Capital tennis at the moment, but Auckland’s variable weather changed the terms of the decider.
“The sets were changed to a first to four games and the last set was a straight tie-breaker. Some of the final was played on an outdoor court and some of it inside. I lost to Isaac Becroft who’s a real indoor specialist which wasn’t a good start, but credit to him as he played a great match,” Snowden-Poole complains.
The Becroft setback was to be Snowden-Poole’s only loss of the tournament. The Scots team of Satchel Benn, Milo Benn, Robbie Barnsley and Hall stepped up when it counted.
“I really want to praise my teammates. It was a tough week. A lot of things happened which we didn’t expect. It was a great win,” Snowden-Poole enthuses.
Snowden-Poole is nationally ranked in the top five for singles in his age group and currently has a World ranking of 400. He has competed in Spain, Fiji, Australia (where he also watched Feeder and Nadal) and New Caledonia where he scored a significant doubles victory with Hall.
The Year 13 desires a college scholarship in the US and will shortly head to China to compete internationally in an attempt to boost his world ranking.