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“I played terribly. I didn’t strike the ball at all well,” Trae Innes complains when reflecting on his performance at the Super 8 tennis tournament in Papamoa this week.
Despite the personal frustration of Innes, Hamilton Boys’ High School managed to win the Super 8 title for the first time since 2012 earning a place at Nationals later in the month.
The humble Innes was quick to praise his teammates.
“I’ve been to four Super 8 tournaments and this one felt the best. It was really competitive and our team played awesome,” he acclaims.
The Super 8 tournament is contested over six matches (four singles and two doubles) per tie. The format is the same at Nationals.
The Hamilton team was: Innes, Anton Shepp, Liam Barry, Jordan Taylor and a reserve.
Hamilton defeated Palmerston North Boys’ High School and Tauranga Boys’ College B in pool play before eliminating Napier Boys’ High School 4-2 in the semi-final.
The final was contested on a hardcourt against the top Tauranga Boys’ College outfit.
Tauranga boasts two players ranked inside the top ten nationally in their age group.
Shepp is Hamilton’s highest ranked player, standing sixth in the National U16 age group. Sheep was vital in Hamilton’s success.
“Anton is a great baseline player. He hits the ball hard and has a big serve. We got up 3-1 and managed to win on a countback. A lot of that was due to Anton,” Innes stresses.
Taylor only dropped one match all week despite being seeded third in the Hamilton team.
“The countback goes on who wins the most sets then games. It was close. Our goal was to make Nationals and we did that by winning Super 8 so we are delighted,” Innes says.
Innes competes regionally for Waikato. He describes his own game as being “baseline driven.” He started playing competitively when he was eight following encouragement from a tennis coach who observed Innes playing casually and was impressed with his superior ability.
Innes is a Year 13. In the winter he plays rugby as a halfback or first-five.
Scots College, Wellington are the defending National champions. The National Secondary School champions are being held at Trust Power Wilding Park, Christchurch from March 19-22.