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A spike in playing numbers has helped strengthen the North Otago tennis competition.

About 60 players were involved in this year’s senior Thursday night competition, with 10 new players this season, North Otago Tennis president Josh Dalziel said.

“It’s higher than we have had in previous years, some people are returning that played in high school, and are now in their 40s and 50s, and can actually hit a ball, and others haven’t played much before, just a bit of backyard warrior, but it’s always good to see new players come in,” Dalziel said.

He put the increase down to better marketing, and the rewards of the association’s first Love Tennis open day.

While the open day was targeted predominantly at junior players, it had also created an influx of seniors to the game.

“We got about half a dozen seniors out of it and for the juniors about a dozen, or 20 new players into the hot shots programme which is really cool to see.”

It was four weeks into the senior singles and doubles competition, with players ranging from top level, mid range, and new-comers.

There were some sharp new players this season, and the mid-range were improving through the ranks nicely.

“It’s pretty cool to see . . . that’s the good thing about it is we can cater for all people.”

A North Otago team was also competing in division one of the Otago Senior Interclub competition, played in both Oamaru and Dunedin.

It was a stiff competition, but North Otago sat middle of the ladder, seven rounds into the season.

“It’s good for our top guys and girls to match themselves against the top people in Dunedin, and just play a few different people too.”

The new challenge helped improve the players’ abilities, which was noticeable on Thursday nights, he said.

A North Otago team would also compete in division one at the senior quadrangular competition, in Invercargill, next weekend.

The competition involved teams from Otago, Southern Lakes, Southland and North Otago, with North Otago borrowing a couple of male players from South Canterbury.

North Otago had one of its strongest teams in several years, Dalziel said.

“We certainly punch above our weight with the other regions having more tennis players, we always do the region proud when we are down there.”

Division two of the competition would be hosted in Oamaru, at the Chelmer St courts, the same weekend.