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Tennis: Pro's loss Waikato's gain
05 February 2002

Leanne Baker should have been playing tennis in Mexico this week.
Instead the 21-year-old Te Awamutu professional, ranked 380 in the world in singles and 150 in doubles, is spending her days assisting with junior coaching clinics around Waikato schools after a sponsorship shortfall meant she was last week unable to stump up with the airfare.

It's good news for Waikato that she's stranded here – it means she will represent the province in the Slazenger Rosebowl at the weekend – but a tragedy for Baker and coach Andrew Rogers, who have been mapping out a strategy to push her into the world's top 100.

Baker is still sponsored by Nike for clothing and Wilson for rackets, but underwear manufacturers Triumph International have discontinued their support which was vital in covering the difference between prizemoney and the annual $40,000 cost of air fares.

Baker is still $5000 short of what's needed for her next 12-week stint overseas, where she is seeking to build on past tournament wins in France, Sweden and Florida.

"We put a programme together then went 'oops, we can't do it'," Rogers said.

Baker was today named in New Zealand's Federation Cup team to play in China in March, but Rogers is desperate to get her overseas before then. "It's fingers crossed we'll find some business support. If not I'll put the expenses on my credit card.

"The best thing we can do is have Leanne working around the schools to lift the profile of tennis. We need the public to make the link."

Baker said it was tough business week in and week out making ends meet. "But I'm just trying to train to the highest possible standard and lift the profile of the game."

Can you help Leanne Baker? Contact Andrew Rogers at PO Box 4341, Hamilton East, or phone 849-9942.

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Yeah go Newzealand!!!

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too bad about the rough sponsorship break :( hopefully they can get the money soon so Leanne can get her schedule back on track as soon as possible :)

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Tough blow for Leanne, I thought her form the last 3 months of lsat year was good and that she was starting to make some headway again!

I was surprised she didn't play Wellington $10K. She mustn't have been able to afford the airfare there too!

Its not the first time she's had financial problems! I know her parents mortgaged their house etc to pay for some of her travels in the past. I feel that perhaps she's not as economic as she could be living away. $40,000 seems a lot to spend of travel in a year, even if that NZ dollars!!

She's had 3 months in NZ working and hasn't saved up any money? Perhaps she was paying off debt? Either way i can't believe the Government/Tennis New Zealand can't gain any sponsorship for her. I think its appalling.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think Leanne has had help before and maybe NZ Tennis has decided that they can't bail every player out when they are in trouble. I'm not sure on that though. I'll keep you updating on any news about Leanne. There was a reason why she didn't play Wellington but I can't remember.

Her mum and dad did mortgage their house and I think her hometown Te Awamutu helped out too. Her brother used to work in the local KFC and I know he took time off to travel with Leanne.

I'm sure know that there has been some publicity someone will come to her aid. I'll keep an eye out in the newspaper. :)

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Latest news on Leanne and Kiwi girls.

Here is the latest new on what Leanner is up. As for the other Kiwi girls I know that Shelley Stephens and Pavlina Nola played for Sunsmart Canterbury against NSW in the ASB Trans Tasman challenge. Even though they didn't win one ladies match in singles or doubles the men won all their matches handing NZ the trophy.

Tennis trophy back in Waikato
11 February 2002

The Slazenger Rosebowl, symbol of supremacy in district association tennis, has returned to the Waikato for the first time in six years.

The Waikato team, spearheaded by women's professional Leanne Baker, comfortably out-pointed Bay of Plenty, Counties-Thames Valley, Poverty Bay and defending champions Western Bay to claim the rosebowl at Otumoetai over the weekend.

Waikato won 34 of their 48 matches, and with each victory worth a point, finished eight points clear of nearest rival Western Bay.

"We've brought the cup home," said thrilled Waikato coach Andrew Rogers.

"Having Leanne there meant we had two matches in the bag against the other teams before we started, but it was also very encouraging to see the number of younger Waikato players succeeding at senior level," Rogers said.

Baker cruised to wins in all her singles and doubles, while Luci Barlow, 15, also went undefeated at No2 in the women, and Asha Coldicutt, 17, dropped just one singles.

Phil Hempstead dropped just one match at No1 in the men, while team captain veteran Kevin Elliott was a pillar of strength.

He went unbeaten until he was forced to default his final match with an elbow injury.

Waikato Rosebowl team: Men: Phil Hempsted, Sean Salisbury, Kevin Elliott, Alex Robb, Brad Litt.

Women:Leanne Baker, Luci Barlow, Nikki Kerkhof, Asha Coldicutt, Te Mana Rollo.

*Waikato have lost the Richardson Cup to Bay of Plenty in under-18 provincial tennis.

Waikato easily accounted for Counties-Thames Valley and Western Bay but lost 7-5 to BOP.
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