Peter Jones

Peter Jones

The Marlborough primary school reps decided to contribute to a fundraising effort for cancer-sufferer Hollie Beattie, a cause recently highlighted by Black Caps opener Tom Blundell. They bought specially-designed bat grips, which they all used throughout the South Island tournament, then presented the leading opposition player with one following each game. Photo: Supplied. 

Primary cricketers do battle on coast

The Marlborough primary school cricket team may have finished out of the top placings at the South Island tournament in Westport last week, but they made the most of their trip to the annual event.

A tough draw, some bad luck on day one and being on the wrong side of a couple of close results conspired to push Marlborough into 10th position, with team management suggesting if everything had gone their way they could have finished among the top four.

“The boys actually did pretty well,” said assistant coach Mike Croad. “It was one of those tournaments where the draw worked against us and we felt we were only a win away from being potential top four, depending on run rate.”

Marlborough’s first T20 match, against West Coast, a team they were heavily favoured to beat, was rained out and they drew two of the strong Canterbury sides, making it a “tough gig”.

Later in the first day they scored their first win, against Mid Canterbury, then the following day they lost to Nelson and beat hosts Buller.

Next up was Canterbury Country and Canterbury Red, two of the favoured sides, with Marlborough battling hard but coming up short in both fixtures.

Those results put them in the 9th-12th bracket where they met Buller in a 40-over semifinal and came away with an easy win. Marlborough scored 271-7 batting first and dismissed Buller for 153.

On the final day they met Mid Canterbury again and lost a thriller by a single run. Batting first Mid Canterbury made 148 before being dismissed, Marlborough losing their final wicket a run short of a tie.

Croad said the team’s bowling was a highlight, while several individuals showed up in the tournament’s overall batting, bowling and fielding standings.

Baxter Croad had the distinction of claiming the most wickets at the tournament, taking 12 scalps at an average of 9. Hunter Shore was 12th on the list with nine wickets at 11.

Benji Nation finished sixth on the batting ladder, scoring 160 runs at an average of 26. Shore was eighth with 149 at 24, Olly Pauling 20th with 117 at 29.

On the overall tournament MVP stats, accumulated points across all disciplines, Croad finished 10th, Pauling 11, Shore was 13th and Nation 14th.

“It’s a pretty good result for a wee place like us to have four guys right up there across 170-odd kids,” added Croad.

“We were right up there in terms of performances, we just didn’t get the results on the day.

“The lads never gave up at any stage and handled the quicker bowling well … within a week the boys have grown so much, they are hitting the ball so much harder now.”

George Glover is welcomed onto the beach at Anakiwa on Wednesday afternoon after completing his 123km “Black Dog Swim”. Photo: Peter Jones.

Sounds swimmer finishes with a smile

Spontaneous applause echoed around Anakiwa as a wet-suited swimmer in a pink cap neared the jetty.

Cheers rang out across the Grove Arm as he emerged dripping from the water, feeling solid ground under his feet for the first time in 10 days.

After a makeshift finishing tape was crossed, a traditional Maori reception with speech, song and the presentation of a taonga signalled the completion of an inspirational journey by Marlborough teenager George Glover.

Inspired last year by the words and deeds of Kiwi free diver William Trubridge and Ross Edgley, the first man to swim around mainland Great Britain, the 17-year-old Marlborough Boys’ College student and accomplished pool swimmer decided to use his physical and mental skills to benefit a cause he felt passionately about.

So the “Black Dog Swim” was born, George deciding to swim the length of Queen Charlotte Sound and back to raise funds for and awareness of the I AM HOPE charity.

He pledged to swim approximately 123km, over 10 days, and came up with a possible fundraising target of $50,000.

At around 3pm on Wednesday he waded ashore at the place where he set off from on December 30, slightly weary but delighted as the promised funds soared past $57,000 and recognition for a particularly worthwhile cause skyrocketed.

Amid post-swim celebrations with over 100 well-wishers and supporters, George admitted he had mixed feelings about ticking off the unique achievement.

“Mainly because of the support crew … I’ll obviously see them again but it won’t be in circumstances like this, and that’s the element that’s been really special.”

While the charitable cause was always motivation during the many hours in the water, George said that it was the support crew who were most often on his mind.

“I thought, I’m doing this for the crew and those donating to a great cause – I didn’t want to let them down.

“But that wasn’t too often on my mind because I was loving it, even when it was choppy, it was so much fun.”

He said his support team had made it such a pleasurable experience. “They were able to mitigate any issues and kept me entertained … they were the best part of the swim.

“People like Ross Anderson, Norm Wilson, Dave Edgar, Jon Haack, Glen Richardson, Dan Moore … plus there were so many others, they were all so cool.”

Although George is a competitive pool swimmer, one of the best in the Nelson Marlborough region for the past four years and an age-group silver medallist in the 1500m freestyle at the NZ short course champs, he has limited experience of long-distance ocean swimming.

Consequently, he said his time in the water had been as tough as he had expected.

“That’s why we prepared for it like we did. The training that we put in paid off – we were as prepared as we could have been. The organisation of the swim was very smooth, which was great … everything went to plan.”

To prepare him for the challenge he enlisted the help of local endurance swimmer Edgar, a veteran of many long-distance swims.

Dave was mightily impressed by his charge’s efforts. “It takes resilience, you’ve got to get back in day after day … it’s all good doing big swims but multi-day, stage events are different … it takes a lot of damn hard training and a really good resilient mindset to get through that sort of work every day.”

The experienced Edgar ensured the logistics of spending long hours in the water were taken care of, including proper pre and post-swim nutrition each day. “We also set up half-hour feeding systems and did mouthwash every 90 minutes to coat the lining of his mouth, ensuring he didn’t get ‘salt mouth’.”

Work on George’s ocean swimming technique also paid off, the teen improving rapidly, according to Edgar. “Look at him today, he was smoking … almost like he was doing a 2k open water race or something. For him to be swimming like this at his age is pretty phenomenal.”

It was a proud and emotional time at the finish line for George’s family, his father Ben, mother Susie and three sisters, who were with him every stroke of the way. Ben said, “It’s just been a pretty cool journey. I don’t think we are going to potentially experience anything like this as a family … we are extremely proud of him. It was his idea from the start and I’ve learned quickly that if he says he’s going to do something, he is going to do it.”

“You could call it cantankerous every now and then, but he has certainly got a view and it’s not a stubborn, shallow or selfish view – it’s all-encompassing for people around him, which is pretty special. That’s what I am most proud of … it’s how he views things.”

Although the swim’s financial objective has been surpassed, George stressed that raising funds “wasn’t the main thing”.

“It was about raising awareness and eliminating the stigma around mental health. The money and support for the I AM HOPE charity is a by-product of everyone who has been involved.”

I AM HOPE is a youth and community-focused support group, run by The Key to Life Charity Trust, which promotes positive attitudinal societal change in schools and communities, while funding private care and counselling for young people.

A link to his Give A Little page is below ……/black-dog-swim-for-nz-youth-mental-health

Nick Weaver, from the Falcons, bowls to Stoke Nayland skipper Brendan Hodgson at Horton Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Marlborough club cricketers slip off pace

Both Marlborough teams in the Tasman Premier League cricket competition slid to heavy defeats on Saturday.

The Falcons, playing at Horton Park, went down to table-toppers Stoke Nayland by six wickets, while the Dolphins, who led the competition coming into the festive break, were hammered by ACOB in Nelson, losing by 171 runs.

The bonus point victories claimed by Stoke Nayland and ACOB, plus a similar haul by Nelson College, has ramped up the stakes leading into the final round of the competition, to be played in three weeks due to rep commitments.

The three Nelson side, plus the Dolphins, now all have a chance of making the three-team play-offs in February.

The wheels are wobbling on the Dolphins’ campaign and without leading run scorer Prabodha Arthavidu they seem especially vulnerable.  Stoke Nayland and ACOB look assured of play-off berths while Nelson College, under coach Garry MacDonald, appear to be coming home with a wet sail.

The outstanding individual performance of the day was produced by belligerent ACOB opener Thomas Zohrab who backed up a fine 117 with a parsimonious and dangerous bowling display of 4-13 off 10 overs.

At the Botanics, ACOB put together their best batting display of the season, registering a formidable 286/7 against the visiting Dolphins. Nic Clark and Zohrab produced a 92-run opening partnership, then when Clark went Zohrab took centre stage. He was the fourth man dismissed with the score at 238, then his lower order teammates chimed in as the total grew.

The Dolphins all struggled against the home team onslaught, but medium pacer Akhil Pant was the best with a three-wicket bag.

The chase always appeared out of reach for the Dolphins as Thomas Zohrab completed an outstanding double by applying the screws early in a 10-over spell which yielded four wickets for just 13 runs.  Ben Blackman offered some resistance, but the run chase always seemed to be a forlorn hope as Ollie Jones-Allen administered the final rites.

A similarly-limp batting effort by the Falcons enabled defending champs Stoke Nayland to cruise to a bonus point win in Blenheim.

They chased down the 92 runs amassed by the Falcons for the loss of just four wickets in the 21st over.

Only opener Joel Lavender, who was run out for 23, hung tough for the Falcons as they batted first and cobbled together a below-par score against an accurate Stoke Nayland bowling unit. They applied consistent pressure and were all rewarded by their perseverance in line and length on a friendly wicket. Left arm spinner Paddy Howes picked up the cherries with three, but it was a real team effort.

A bright spot for the Falcons was the bowling of Nick Weaver, the left arm paceman claiming a wicket with the first ball of the visitors’ innings and troubling all their batsman. He fully deserved his 4-34 from 10 overs, but ultimately Stoke Nayland di it in a canter, experienced batsmen Brendan Hodgson and Ricky Edwards guiding them home.

Meanwhile Nelson College accumulated 241-9 against WTTU at Jubilee Park. Finn Restieaux was the top scorer with a classy 72.

The early loss of both Joey O’Connor and Tom Cross seriously stymied WTTU’s hopes of chasing down the imposing total set by the schoolboys. Jarrod McKay undid them both within his first six overs and after that the home team was always playing catch up.

At Brightwater, Wanderers-Motueka scored a 40 run win over Wakatu. Both teams are out of contention for the play-offs but enjoyed a tight battle. Wanderers scored 176 batting first, then dismissed Wakatu for 136 in the 38th over, a hat-trick to Hayden Ingram the highlight.



Falcons 92 (Joel Lavender 23, Paddy Howes 3-27, Tom Chambers 2-19, Billy Guyton 2-23) Stoke Nayland 93-4 (Ricky Edwards 30*, Nick Weaver 4/34). Stoke Nayland won by 6 wickets.

ACOB 286-7 (Thomas Zohrab 117, Nic Clark 57, David Zohrab 34, Josh Simpson 29, James Graham 21, Akhil Pant 3-57) Dolphins 115 (Ben Blackman 28, Thomas Zohrab 4-13, Ollie Jones-Allen 3-10). ACOB won by 171 runs

Nelson College 241-9 (Finn Restieaux 72, Jonty Raxworthy 38, Jarrod McKay 41, Sam Baxendine 3-44, Josh Newport 2-26, Billy Powick 2-55) WTTU     112 (Andrew Drummond 26, Mason Thelin 21, Ronan Chauhan 3-19, Jack MacNeil 2-4, McKay 2-20). Nelson College won by 129 runs.

Wanderers-Motueka 176 (Dave Leaonard 52, Logan Ogilvie 43, Damian Aitken 4-37) Wakatu 136 (Fergus Hughes 61*, Hayden Ingram 4-10, Ogilvie 3-42). Wanderers won by 40 runs.

The under-12 girls, who completed an unbeaten season. Photo: Supplied.

Touch teams strike gold in Christchurch

Marlborough’s junior touch teams wound up 2019 in fine style with a stellar showing at the recent South Island age group championships in Christchurch.

Ninety players, coaches and managers travelled south to represent the province at the Southern IPS event, six teams taking on the best the Mainland could offer.

Marlborough’s effort at the annual event was described as “one of the best ever” by local touch administrators, underlining the burgeoning strength of the sport in this province.

Showing the way at Burnside Park for the Marlborough contingent were the under-16 mixed side and the under-12 girls, both of whom claimed gold medals.

The under-16 mixed side, coached by Serena and MacDougall, beat Canterbury in a thrilling final, Nikau Peipi scoring the vital try in a drop off after the scores were level 5-5 at fulltime. Hugh Robinson, Jack Burdon, Peipi, Jake Pacey and Stormy Tupara all had exceptional tournaments, said the coaches.

The victorious Marlborough under-16 mixed side. Photo: Supplied.
The victorious Marlborough under-16 mixed side. Photo: Supplied.

The opened the tournament by beating Otago 18 11-6, then lost a nail-biter to Canterbury 6-7.  Next came a 3-3 draw with Otago  and a 6-3 win over Canterbury 18 before the 6-5 final result.

The under-12 girls, coached by Todd Nicholas and Peter Flynn, capped a superb unbeaten season with a dominant display in Christchurch, conceding just one try.

The beat Otago 3-0, Canterbury Black (B) 5-0, Canterbury White (C) 12-0, Southland 9-0, Canterbury Red (A) 2-0 then downed Canterbury Red (A) 5-1 in the final. The Marlborough girls scored 36 tries while having their line crossed just once.

In their previous tournament, in Nelson during November, they beat Canterbury White 8-0, Canterbury Black 7-1, Nelson 7-0, West Coast 3-0, Marlborough Grey 7-0 and Motueka 8-1, scoring 40 tries and conceding just two.

The other four Marlborough teams in action in Christchurch also performed with distinction. The under-12 boys side and the under-14 girls sides both finished fifth, the under-14 boys came fourth while the under-14 mixed team fought their way into third.

The Southern IPS tournament will be the last tournament facilitated by Touch New Zealand for this age group as they are falling into line with Sport New Zealand and no longer running under-10, under-12 or under-14 tournaments.

The next assignment for Marlborough’s junior touch sides will be a trip to the national champs in Auckland in February. The under-16 mixed side and an under-18 mixed combination will travel north.

The victorious Marlborough teams in Christchurch.

Under 12 Girls Red – coach Todd Nicholas and Peter Flynn; manager Tash Flynn: Poppy Parkinson, Sophia Nicholas,  Bree Flynn,  Ava Marcroft,  Tilly Tupouto’a,  Isla Tilbury,  Kara Beattie,  Isla Watene,  Olivia Brown,  Elizabeth Pousima,  Sammie Joyce,  Pippa Clarke.

Under 16 Mixed – coach Serena MacDougall and Matt MacDougall; manager Laura Murphy: Jake Pacey, Patrick Thompson, Hugh Robinson, Bray Taumoefolau, Kobe MacDougall, Will Flynn, Jack Burdon, Nikau Peipi, Charles Tupouto’a, Jimmy Morris,  Delyth James-Sitters, Chelsea Martin, Nikita Gapper, Stormy Tupara,  Ataliaya Lambert, Rosie Bowers.

Sam Boyce was Marlborough’s second inning s bowling hero. Photo: Shuttersport.

Marlborough cricketers dodge bullet in Buller

A second innings blitz by Marlborough’s bowling attack spared the senior representative cricket side’s blushes in Westport late last month.

Marlborough came away with an outright win in their first Hawke Cup qualifying match of the season, after being comprehensively outplayed on the first innings.

On their home patch in Westport, Marlborough inserted the home side, who struggled to register a sizeable total, being dismissed for just 148 in the 51st over.

Opener Callum Lennon, with 33 from just 24 balls, led the way along with No 7 batsman Nathan Thompson who amassed an unbeaten 31.

Marlborough’s bowling effort was spearheaded by left arm paceman Nick Weaver, who claimed 4-35 from 14.5 overs. Harry MacDonald was also among the wickets, his 2-40 including the scalps of both Buller openers. Tarin Mason grabbed 2-17, Sam Boyce 1-12 and Bradley Horton 1-17 as the visitors applied the screws in the field.

However, while Buller’s batting looked brittle, Marlborough’s effort was even worse. They were bowled out for just 98 in the 37th over, Three Buller bowlers did the damage. Veteran Troy Scanlon took an astounding 6-36, Sam Jope claimed 2-22 while Ethan Slee bagged 1-24.

Only three Marlborough players managed double figures, Matthew Stretch’s 44 from 86 deliveries standing out like a beacon, while Ma’ara Ave managed 17 and Nick Weaver 16. The visitors lost three wickets for just four runs before the conclusion of the fourth over and never fully recovered.

Trailing by 50 runs and conceding first innings points it was going to take some effort from Marlborough to get anything out of the game and it was their bowlers who began the fightback, dismissing Buller in their second innings for just 86 in 54 overs.

Showing the way was medium pacer Boyce who picked up 5-19 from 19 overs with a fine display of accurate, penetrative bowling. Prabodha Arthavidu bagged 2-10 from seven overs, MacDonald claimed 1-11, Tarin Mason 1-13 and Stretch 1-20 to set up a winning target of 136.

With plenty of overs left on day two the outright result depended on how well Marlborough batted and this time they showed much more resolve.

They got a solid base, courtesy of a 34-run opening partnership between Tom Sutherland (26 from 75) and Joel Lavender (10 from 57) then, when Lavender was dismissed, Arthavidu took control, his 52 runs from 68 balls guiding the visitors home with 48 overs to bowl. He received assistance from Jerrym Lamb (19) and Ave (10) as Marlborough reached 138-5 in 42 overs to claim eight points.

Scanlon and Slee took two wickets apiece.

Buller were awarded seven points for their first innings supremacy.

Marlborough’s next Hawke Cup match is against Nelson, in Nelson, on January 25-26.

Sam and Simon Phillips won the 2019 Rapaura men's title. Photo: Peter Jones.

Double delight at Rapaura as twins take out both doubles titles

Spectators at the finals of the annual Wairau River Rapaura doubles tennis tournament could be excused if they came away suffering from double vision.

In a unique occurrence, both the men’s and women’s finals of the popular festive season event, staged on December 28-29, were this year won by twins.

Identical siblings Sam and Simon Phillips took out the men’s title, while the local combination of Jade and Kyla Otway came away with the women’s crown.

The Phillips, Sam based in Western Australia and Simon in Nelson, cut a swathe through the men’s draw, not dropping a set over the two days. In the final they defeated Gareth Robb and Tom Batt 6-2, 6-1, their big serves and crisp volleys proving too good for the Christchurch-based combination.

Jade and Kyla Otway claimed their second Rapaura doubles victory. Photo: Peter Jones.
Jade and Kyla Otway claimed their second Rapaura doubles victory. Photo: Peter Jones.

The height and extra reach of the lofty Phillips twins was also a decisive factor, making them a tough proposition to pass at the net or lob.

In the semifinals Robb and Batt downed local hopefuls Lee Harborne and Andrew Forgesson 6-1, 6-1, while the Phillips got the better of Hamish Morrow and Dave Sandford 6-3, 7-6 in a tighter contest.

The 16-year-old Otway twins also cemented victory without dropping a set. They met Eveline van der Linden and Renny Spruijtenburg in the final and prevailed 6-2, 6-2.

Earlier they beat sisters Loren Hickin and Felicity Sampson 6-1, 6-3 in the semis, while their final rivals downed Jane Bay and Donna Clark 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the other.

Although Kyla had not played any competitive tennis for the past two years, the former national age group champion teamed well with her sister, the newly-crowned national under-18 doubles champion, to get the job done.

Their last outing together was on the same grass courts, in 2017 when they claimed their first Rapaura title.

Kyla, a highly-promising college rower at Rangi Ruru, said the decision to team up once more was down to her.

“It’s just fun to get back to [tennis]. It is the best tournament, so nice and social. It’s great to see everyone again.”

She also noted that Jade was “the boss” on court, because “she’s actually good”, and said they had had no sibling arguments during their three games, apart from a couple of calls of “get your stuff together Kyla”.

They had praise for their final opponents, especially van der Linden, who had previously coached both girls.

With another Blenheim Christmas planned for 2020, the sisters confirmed that the tournament would again be on their festive season menu.

The Phillips twins also hoped to be back, although Perth-based doctor Sam said scheduling a trip home was not always easy.

The twins grew up in Christchurch, where they played top level-tennis until in their mid-twenties, before Sam headed to Australia nine years ago and Simon set up home in Nelson, where he is the province’s No 1.

They warmed up for Rapaura with an over-35 tournament in Perth in September, losing in the doubles final to Australia’s top over-35 combination.

“We used to play together all the time years ago,” said Sam, “but now we are lucky if we play together once or twice a year.”

Simon, also a doctor, was a beaten Rapaura finalist two years ago, losing to Robb on that occasion, so suggested getting revenge was one reason for entering the tournament, although the logistics of getting the brothers together in time were tight.

“It was based on when Sam could get over [from Perth]. As it turned out he flew over on Saturday and drove up … it was really nice of [the organisers] to let us play late afternoon back-to-back so we could take part.”

They relished the opportunity. “It was great fun,” said Sam, “there’s a really nice atmosphere, it’s well-organised and the competition is really good.”

Eighteen combinations contested the men’s draw, eight involved in the women’s.

On the Friday preceding the men’s and women’s doubles, the Rapaura mixed doubles tournament was held, with Jade Otway and Lee Harborne winning the final 9-3 over the father/daughter pairing of Lucia and James Gale.

Laser sailor Jack Bennett from the host club. Photo: Supplied.

Sailing away in Picton

Running the Marlborough/Nelson regional sailing champs was always going to be a big ask for the small, Picton-based, Queen Charlotte Yacht Club but, as always, they delivered.

On December 14-15, QCYC played host to three events – the 2019 Zephyr South Island championships, the 2019 Regional Open Skiff regatta and the 2019 A class South Island championships.

With 90 boats entered and 15 different types of yachts sailing in three different racing courses the pressure was firmly on the club’s volunteer base, who banded together to deliver a great event.

On day one the D flag was raised a little after 10am and all fleets, besides Optimist Rainbow, Green and Open skiff headed out to the outer harbour.

The A course featured Open Optimist, Starling, Splash, Laser, Zephyr, Finn, 420 and Europe class boats, who sailed in light winds (five knots northwesterly) which built throughout the day as three races were completed.

The B course catered for A class, Paper Tiger, Flying Dutchman, 29er, and Weta class boats who competed in 10 knots northwesterly winds, measuring over 15 knots at the end of the day. In the superb conditions spectators were treated to the sight of A-class yachts zooming past on their foils.

Meanwhile, in the inner harbour the junior sailors completed three races.

On Sunday the sailors again split over three courses, the Open skiff heading out with the rest of the fleets while Optimist Rainbow and Green Fleet had the inner harbour for themselves.

The first race started with a light breeze building to 15 knots which built to over 20 knots with gusts up to 30 knots. After race one for course A and race two for course B, further racing was cancelled for the day. There were several capsizes as the boats sailed back to port, but the QCYC safety craft got all sailors safely home.

The Zephyr South Island title was won convincingly by Greg Wright from WBBC while the A class South Island crown was claimed by Dave Shaw from Nelson who won all his races, including lapping some of the other competitors.

The Open Skiff title was taken by William Beg from NPCL, holding off QCYC sailor Fin Stichbury, who placed second.

In the Laser class Jack Bennet took victory over several other QCYC sailors while the Open Class was won by Cameron Doig in his Finn.

The 420 title went to the girls’ team of Eden Amos and Skye Baker while Ben Mangin (NYC) took the Starling crown in front of QCYC member River Hopkins.

In the 29er class the Nelson Team of Jones and Schneider took first place with the QCYC duo of Edwards and Overend second.

The Paper Tiger class saw a clear victory by Nigel Greenbank from QCYC while, in the Flying Dutchman, David Gibb and Craig Pettie were victorious over other Nelson teams.

The Optimist Open grade saw victory by Noah Malpot (NYC) with QCYC sailors Moss Hopkins and Louie Poletti hot on his heels.

The Optimist inner harbour event was won by Emily Preece (Green Fleet) and Harry Pitts (Rainbow Fleet).

Pickleball players, from left, Val McMurtry, Carol Stanton, Lowri McNabb and Annie Percy. Photo: Peter Jones.

Pickleball gathering momentum

There’s a new game in town.

It’s called Pickleball and, despite its unusual name, is played by sober folk looking for a bit of exercise and a chance to test their skills.

Most Thursdays at the Blenheim Indoor Centre on Batty’s Road a group of women gather to play the sport, which was invented in the United States during the summer of 1965 as a children’s backyard game.

Washington State Representative Joel Pritchard and two friends returned from golf and found their families bored on a Saturday afternoon.

They set out to play badminton, but no-one could find the shuttlecock so they improvised with a “pickle ball” [a lightweight plastic ball with holes in it], lowered the badminton net and fabricated some bats from plywood in a nearby shed.

Early suggestions claimed the unusual name for the new game came from the family dog “Pickles” but Pritchard’s wife said the name came from “Pickle boat”, a rowing term in which oarsman were chosen as leftovers from other crews. The dog was in fact named after the game.

Played on a badminton-sized court in either singles or doubles format, the rules of a game which incorporates elements of badminton, table tennis and tennis are relatively simple.

A Pickleball bat and a wiffle ball.

Serves are underhand and diagonal, as in table tennis, with just one attempt allowed, unless it is a let. The ball must bounce once after the serve and once when it is returned, then players can volley, but are not allowed to do so from within a seven foot, no-volley zone (referred to as the kitchen) on each side of the net.

Points can only be scored by the team serving, with games played to 11 points.

Pickleball was first played at the Blenheim Indoor Centre in July this year and has quickly become a popular pastime for a group of eight players who have embraced the challenge of mastering a new game.

Lowri McNabb, who is involved with many sports throughout the province said, “It’s a lot of fun. I was looking to get back into a racquet sport but I haven’t got past Pickleball yet.

“It’s a very social game that anybody can come and join in, that’s part of the attraction”.

Val McMurtry said she also enjoyed the social side, meeting different people, and “likes the exercise”.

Carol Stanton also relished the “extra exercise” and said “it brings back some old skills that I might not have used for a very long time”.

“I enjoy it very much and look forward to Thursdays a lot,” she added.

A common theme among the players was that this is certainly not a game for the elderly and, after being run around the court relentlessly during a 10-minute game, I can report that is very much the case.

I can also report that tennis-style topspin is hard to impart onto a pickle ball and the game, which appears relatively simple from the side line, takes some time to pick up. However, when you do, it is a great low-impact way of sharpening your hand-eye co-ordination and raising your cardio levels.

The Thursday players are keen to attract more people to the game, which can be played by those of all ages.

Entry to the five courts available at the centre is $5 per player, with Thursday play running from 1pm until 3pm. New players are welcome. Courts are also available on Wednesday, both during the day and in the evening. They can be booked by phoning 03-5784851.

Centre owner Dorothy Fitzpatrick says they intend to affiliate with Pickleball NZ, adding yet another sport to the centre’s current menu of badminton, indoor cricket, indoor netball, table tennis, tenpin bowling, indoor bowls and indoor hockey.

Brett Forgesson. Photo: Supplied.

Tennis honours former president

The Marlborough Tennis Association has a new life member after Brett Forgesson was honoured with the prestigious award at the latest annual meeting of the MTA.

Brett was an active and innovative president of the local association from 2010 until 2018, after joining the MTA committee in 2009.

In his first annual report he outlined his goals, which included making the MTA “known as the best small association in NZ Tennis within the next two or three years and looked at as a model for success by other districts”.

Current MTA president Lindsay Parkinson said Brett certainly achieved that objective.

“He became president after a turbulent few years for Marlborough tennis and, through an enormous amount of work and dedication, Brett ushered in a new, very successful era,” said Parkinson.

“Brett was an impressive administrator who worked tirelessly for the good of tennis in Marlborough over many years.

“He led a committee which established a successful relationship with a professional and accomplished coaching team meaning that both juniors and seniors were delivered a quality and consistent product.”

He also introduced a number of new annual representative matches for Marlborough’s players, increased fund-raising opportunities and rebuilt the primary school competition which grew from 180 participants in 2010/11 to around 280 in 2017/18.

Under his leadership, Marlborough hosted the TNZ Junior Masters finals in 2011 and both the TNZ under 16 national champs and the South Island Primary Schools tournament in 2012.

“Brett embraced the new technology available and brought a new professionalism to the Marlborough tournaments,” said Parkinson.

“He also increased the revenue steam from funding organisations and sponsors, raising the reserves of the association considerably, while at the same time managing to grow the programmes that the association offers.

“Although Brett was ably assisted by his committee everyone will testify to how much work he put into the Association. This was most evident in 2013-2014 when the MTA operated without a paid administrator. Brett effectively did the administrator’s role while also working full-time,” added Parkinson.

Brett joins Nigel Perry, David Winstanley and Barry Stringer as life members of the MTA.

Anton Oliver has been named to lead the MBC First XV. Photo: Supplied.

Best of the best – choosing the top MBC First XV of the professional era no easy task

Soon after Nelson College won the 2019 UC Championship, a group of Nelson rugby folk were inspired to put their heads together in a bid to come up with a team containing the greatest 1st XV players from that famous school, comprised of those who played in the modern era, post-1995.

In the spirit of the festive season, and just for the hell of it, I have endeavoured to repeat the exercise for Marlborough Boys’ College, with a little help of course from some learned rugby followers on this side of the hill.

Leon MacDonald slots in at fullback for MBC. Photo: Shuttersport.
Leon MacDonald slots in at fullback for MBC. Photo: Shuttersport.

Obviously, in such a formidable rugby school, selection was extremely difficult – especially in positions such as hooker and first five where MBC have produced a string of top players.

However, with some mixing and matching position-wise, we have come up with a side that would surely prove far too good for the Nelson College outfit, MBC possessing hard-nosed physicality up front, plus superior skills and pace out the back.

Having five All Blacks in the MBC mix hints at the quality of the side, and how tough it was to make the cut for the chosen XV. Leading the side will be former All Blacks skipper Anton Oliver, who has been chosen at No 8, the position he filled with such aplomb at MBC.

Joe Wheeler has been chosen at lock. Photo: Shuttersport.
Joe Wheeler has been chosen at lock. Photo: Shuttersport.

To ensure the playing field is [relatively] level for a hypothetical matchup with Nelson College, former MBC head boy and World Cup referee Ben O’Keeffe would be on the whistle, with former MBC teacher Kieran Keane coaching the MBC combination.

Without further ado, here are the greatest Marlborough Boys’ College and Nelson College 1st XVs of the modern era:


Marlborough Boys’ College

  1. Atu Moli (All Black)
  2. Quentin MacDonald (NZ Maori)
  3. Hamish Cochrane (NZ under-20)
  4. Joe Wheeler (Highlanders, NZ Maori)
  5. Jamie Joseph (All Black)
  6. Vernon Fredericks (Crusaders)
  7. Braden Stewart (Tasman)
  8. Anton Oliver (All Black) – captain
  9. Toby Morland (Highlanders, Chiefs, Blues)
  10. Jeremy Manning (Newcastle, Munster)
  11. Hayden Pedersen (Highlanders, NZ Maori)
  12. David Hill (All Black)
  13. Aaron Bancroft (Highlanders)
  14. Kade Poki (Crusaders, Highlanders)
  15. Leon MacDonald (All Black)


Nelson College

  1. Wyatt Crockett (All Black)
  2. Ratu Vugakoto (Fiji)
  3. Sak Taulafo (Samoa)
  4. Quinn Strange (Crusaders, NZ Schools)
  5. Kahu Marfell (NZ U19)
  6. Anton Segner (NZ Schools)
  7. Tevita Koloamatangi (Tonga)
  8. Ita Vaea (Brumbies)
  9. Mitch Drummond (All Black)
  10. Mitch Hunt (Crusaders)
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders, NZ Schools)
  12. David Havili (All Black)
  13. Tom Marshall (Crusaders, Chiefs,)
  14. James Lowe (NZ Maori)
  15. James Marshall (NZ Sevens)


As the Nelson side’s selectors [Peter Grigg, Kahu Marfell and Andrew Goodman] suggested, “selecting a team such as this is an art, not a science”.

“There are numerous players with outstanding credentials and this selection is a very subjective exercise. We apologise to anybody we have offended with non-selection but are willing to discuss them over appropriate refreshments.”

The same qualifying terms apply on this side of the hill … let the debate begin.