The National, Tennis. Tournament was completed in Wellington in early January.
Again Miss R. Morrison played her way into the quarter finals of the Women's Singles but was eliminated by the experienced Mrs Robson.
On the day Mrs Robson played above herself and Miss Morrison was not at her best.
Last year Misses Morrison and Dewes, both school-girls at the time, showed splendid promise for the future by reaching the quarter-finals. Miss Dewes, now at Wellington Teachers' College did not enter this year. Miss Morrison in reaching the quarter finals again has shown that she still has the potential. It seems, however, that she has shown little improvement during the year. This may be a disappointment to her supporters but as she is still a school girl it may be that they are expecting too much.
For my part, I have no burning desire to see Maoris reaching the highest pinnacles of sporting success if it means their having to devote more than a reasonable proportion of their lives and their interest to the sport of their choice. I am afraid that a single purposed fanaticism is an inescapable ingredient of success in modern sport.
The day of the accomplished all-rounder winning National or international honours is a thing of the past—except in team games perhaps where the individual lapse in concentration can be recovered by a team mate. The tennis star must be a martyr to tennis, the swimming champion must forever be swimming; the olympic stars of track and field must begin their training preparations for the next Games ere the crowds have found their way home and the shouting died from the last.
Miss Morrison is New Zealand's outstanding Junior. She won 3 titles at the junior championships. She obviously can go a long way in the game.
In 1954, the Maori Tennis Championships were held at Gisborne and among the players was a small contingent from Dunedin, including two young cousins of mine—Les Potiki and Clinton Anglem.
The Gisborne tournament was probably their first contact with a large group of Maoris and they were so impressed by the experience and the hospitality that they sought an agreement to hold the 1955 tournament in Dunedin. This tournament was completed on the 25th January.
Although a number of familiar faces were missing a large contingent from Poverty Bay, Hawkes Bay and the East Coast made the trip. I saw the Gisborne people on the way through—the whole 82 of them.
All finals were fought out between Takitimu and Horouta and I am told that the standard, especially among the juniors was very encouraging.
A tribute has also been paid to the fine sense of sportsmanship in all sections and this, I think is even more important than good tennis.
The following are the results of the finals in detail:—
Men's Singles: J. Pere (Takitimu) beat S. Wehi (Takitimu) 6–2, 2–6, 6–4.
Women's Singles: Mrs L. Ngata (Takitimu) beat Mrs R. Harvey (Takitimu), 6–4, 2–6, 6–2.
Women's Doubles: Miss T. Waititi and Mrs S. Smith (Horouta) beat Mrs Ngata and Mrs R. Harvey (Takitimu), 6–1, 6–4.
Men's Doubles: J. Pere and M. Harvey (Takitimu) beat J. Te Kawa and J. Cosgrove (Horouta), 6–3, 6–3, 6–3.
Mixed Doubles: M. Harvey and Mrs Ngata (Takitimu) beat Wehi and Miss M. Nepe (Takitimu), 6–2, 8–6.
Girls' Championship Singles: Miss T. Waititi (Horouta) beat Miss A. Dewes (Horouta), 6–1, 6–2.
Boys' Singles: D. Goldsmith (Horouta) beat W. Hoeria (Horouta), 6–1, 6–3.
Boys' Doubles: H. Kershaw and D. Goldsmith (Horouta) beat L. Moeau and W. Ackroyd (Takitimu), 6–2, 2–6, 6–1.
Girls' Doubles: Misses A. Pipi and J. Edwards (Takitimu) beat Misses T. King and M. Collier (Takitimu), 6–3, 3–6, 6–1.
On the Social Side the Tournament was an unqualified success. It may be that we southerners are not used to organising large huis but we do have at least one natural advantage which virtually ensures success. Ours is the home of the titi and I understand that the visitors were well catered for in this respect—many having titi at every meal.
A lot of Maoris—and not a few pakehas too—are prone to wonder why in every All Black team there are rarely more than one or two Maoris.
I have even heard it said that the N.Z.R.F.U. supports a colour-bar. This of course is not so. The union has two responsibilities to the people who put its members in office. First it must select the best available team but secondly it must not endorse the inclusion if anyone ‘who, on or off the field, may not be a fit and proper person to represent New Zealand.’
Too many Maoris have played for New Zealand for there to be any thought of a colour-bar existing. The New Zealand Union Executive is the central ruling body but, after all, it operates only on the delegated authority from the union itself which is composed of representatives of all the provinces.
Many Maoris reach provincial status. Many have captained their provinces and it would be ridiculous to say the provinces which are glad to have Maoris in their teams would condone any bar to their representing New Zealand.
A far more consistent outery about All Black representation is the scarcity of country players to win selection. I will deal more fully with this later but at this stage I would say that Maori representation and country representation are inextricably woven together. So many Maori footballers are at the same time country footballers.
Selectors I feel are very prone to rely on the good, known and proven player—the chap who can be relied on to play a sound game—in preference to the possibly brilliant player who is not so well known but who might not be consistent.
The selectors, once the trials begin, see every nominee, but some no more than once or twice. Many country players drop out early in the trials, simply because on the day they do not show the characteristics one would expect in an All Black. The city player is seen more often and so known. Although the country player is usually very fit muscularly, he is often found short of wind when engaged with or against gymnasium-trained players.
This question of peak fitness and training method is perhaps one of the reasons why so many of our Maori footballers get so far but miss out on the top honours. To win All Black selection through an exhaustive series of trials demands a high peak of physical fitness and the luck to stay free from injury.
The competition for a place in a city senior team forces players to train at least two nights a week and on Sunday mornings. The training is hard and is designed to sharpen reflexes. It more than compensates the city office worker for the lack of hard work which many country players do and which builds their physique. Also, not all city players work in offices. Many have really tough jobs and this with well-planned training in the gymnasium makes them formidable opponents.
Ctiy players too are used to a higher standard of Saturday play. In almost every team one sees All Blacks, ex-All Blacks and potential All Blacks. In the country the chap who is good enough to become an All Black trialist is often an isolated star shining on his own. He can play ducks and drakes with his less talented opponents but when he enters a trial where everyone is talented he is often prone to try too much on his own. This I think is the crux of the matter from the Maori's point of view. The selectors are seeking talent but they have to choose a team, not a group of 15 brilliant individuals. They seek men who can make play for their supports as well as capitalise on openings made by someone else. The whole basis of John Smith's fame, for instance, lies in his ability to make play and few will deny that he is our greatest post-war centre.
In the next issue of Te Ao Hou I shall give the Maori player—city or country—some idea of what New Zealand selectors expect of the men they choose.