KALKEE will look to kick-start its premiership defence on Saturday against St Michael’s in round three of Central Wimmera Tennis Association pennant competition.
The Kees were shock winners in last season’s nail-biting grand final but have lost their first two matches of the 2013-14 season and face another daunting challenge against the Saints.
St Michael’s sits atop the ladder after big wins over Central Park and Horsham Lawn O’Connor and is already the only undefeated team in the competition.
Kalkee has struggled without some of its premiership stars from last season, including brothers Steve and Grant Schultz, Lachie Exell and Melissa Beddison.
Club president Jeff Friberg said he expected most of the team to return soon and he was confident they would turn their form around.
“I think you’ll find we started pretty much the same way last year,” he said.
“The first few weeks of the season are pretty difficult to field a full team because there are guys away on footy trips and things like that.”
Friberg said the Schultz brothers would return to the team, while he had not yet spoken with Exell.
Drung South will also be looking to break into the pennant top four with a win against Horsham Lawn Massey at the weekend.
Both sides are coming off big losses and will be keen to get their seasons on track.
The final match of the round pits Central Park against Horsham Lawn O’Connor.
The teams sit third and second on the ladder respectively and a win would keep them in touch with St Michael’s in the early going.
Draw: Central Park v Horsham Lawn O’Connor, Drung South v Horsham Lawn Massey, St Michael’s v Kalkee.
Drung South has won its opening two matches in two close games and Central Park joined the winners’ list last round so this will be a tight match.
Once again, it might come down to player availability.
Both Central Park Red and St Michael’s have yet to record a win, so it is game on on Saturday.
Red has faced last year’s two grand finalists in its first two games and the Saints are up from A Grade, so it might be the Reds’ experience that will get it over the line.
Horsham Lawn faces an in-form Brimpaen and will have a battle to get the points. The home-court advantage will be of some help, but Brimpaen will be the team to beat this year.
Draw: Drung South v Central Park Blue, Central Park Red v St Michael’s, Horsham Lawn v Brimpaen.
Natimuk scraped in over Drung last round and will be eager to keep that form intact.
Noradjuha will be out to score its first win and a tight struggle will be fought out.
Kalkee takes on the undefeated Quantong side. With both teams coming off good wins, they will be out to prove who is best.
Horsham Lawn and Haven will both be anxious to get back on the winners’ list.
Playing on the lawn courts could be the factor that decides this match, which could come down to the last round of sets.
Central Park has won its opening two matches and Drung South lost last round on games.
This will be another close match and it might come down to the last set.
Draw: Natimuk v Noradjuha, Kalkee v Quantong, Horsham Lawn v Haven, Central Park v Drung South.
After big a loss last week, Homers will face the in-form Haven, but will try to defy the odds and make it a close tussle.
Natimuk and Brimpaen are in a similar situation, with Natimuk losing and Brimpaen having a good win.
Natimuk is struggling with numbers, so availability will play a role in this match but Brimpaen should come out victorious.
Laharum has won both matches this season and St Michael’s has lost two.
The Saints will be looking to get their season back on track but Laharum will stand in their way at the weekend.
Draw: Homers v Haven, Natimuk v Brimpaen, Laharum v St Michael’s.
Haven Green had a bye in the first week and a loss last week, while Drung South-Horsham Lutheran has had two good victories and should continue that form.
Dadswells Bridge will face Natimuk, which forfeited last week after a loss in round one.
Dadswells Bridge will be confident it can get its first win in the competition this week, although Natimuk will also do its utmost to get on the winners’ list.
Lawn won on a forfeit last week and will be seeking to keep the winning feeling going against Laharum Navy, which will aim to record its first win.
Haven Black will be out to keep its winning streak alive against a Quantong side that is also undefeated and fresh from the bye last week.
This could well be the match of the round and too close to pick.
Draw: Haven Green v Drung South-Horsham Lutheran, Dadswells Bridge v Natimuk, Horsham Lawn v Laharum Navy, Haven Black v Quantong. Laharum Red, bye.