Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sometimes it’s possible to get a little too uppish for one’s own good.

Take for example the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, today. Yes, they won, and in the end, comfortably so over the Canberra Raiders. What the 29-10 score line did not show was, at times, a cavalier attitude towards ball security and what the most inappropriate times to offload were.

After a big win over South Sydney last weekend, there was an air of complacency about their play. It was as if they thought that all they had to do was turn up to gain victory. This was a pity, as there was much to like about their performance. But, for every good piece of work they produced, often it was undone by some lax attitudes, leading to errors.

In particular this was the case in the first half.

The king of the offload, Feleti Mateo, should have been laden with guilt as his midas touch deserted him. So often a game breaker, he failed to realise that one must always respect the opposition. That patience is a virtue. At times there was precious little of it in sight.

Such a shame this was as the Warriors had an opportunity on this mild winter’s day to put the visitors to the sword. Initially it looked as though they would as they had things all their own way over the opening fifteen minutes. It was total domination. Perhaps this added to their sense of invincibility and contentment, leaving them to think that the state of play was under their control.

8-0 up after fourteen minutes, the Warriors had forced Canberra to partake in making twice the number of tackles that they had.

Doubtless, the green eyed monster* should have been swarming within the Canberra outfit. All they wanted was some possession to show what they are capable of. But they simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball. Feelings of dread must surely have been amassing within at the thought of what fate may have in store for them.

But they are not ones to surrender without a fight. So, over the second half of the first half, they set about clawing their way back into the contest. Two tries and a conversion later, Canberra had a half-time lead of 10-8. They had fought back mightily. They deserved their lead if for nothing else other than for the tenaciousness they displayed.

The Warriors on the other hand had got exactly what they deserved; a good swift figurative kick up the backside. After such a fine start to the match they had squandered a sizeable advantage. Not just with a lead on the scoreboard, but also the mental edge they had held over the Raiders during the opening stanza.

Whatever was said in the sheds during the break, it worked. The Warriors came out a different side. The intensity of their work was elevated to a superior level. The offloads continued, but there was a more measured look about how the locals went about that work.

If the Warriors attack of the second half was good, then their defence upped the ante even further, not letting the Raiders cross their line. Whenever Canberra looked to be about to make a break, more often than not, one of the Warriors inside defenders would put a halt to any thoughts the attacker had of galloping off into the NRL try scoring mecca.

Numerous times the home side was forced to defend consecutive sets of six on their own line. That they never looked like cracking was testament to what was a top rate defensive effort.

And with an encounter with top four side Brisbane next week that defence will need to accompany the Warriors when they travel across the Tasman.

Along with an attitude of respect for what will be a very worthy foe.

Warriors 29
Tries M Vatuvei, BTupou, S Berrigan, J Moon, J Maloney, S Rapira. Con Maloney (2), field goal Maloney

Canberra 10
Tries D Vidot, J Croker
Con Croker (1)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pita Godinet has shown himself to be in possession of a future that could be one of the best.

Having bided his time patiently on the sidelines for much of this season, the twenty-three year olds time appears to have arrived. It’s only early days, yet there is a sense of inevitability about his ascension to the higher echelons of Rugby League.

A matter of time it can only be, especially after his debut in the Warriors encounter with South Sydney, last Sunday. He didn’t get onto the field until the sixtieth minute, but once on, there was no looking back for the New Zealand born dynamo that has Samoan bloodlines within him.

A halfback by trade, he had to settle for coming off the interchange bench as a back-up to Aaron Heremaia in the dummy half role. Not that he was going to complain. After all, even a small chance is better than no chance at all. That he proceeded to rip straight into things can be of no surprise.

For as sprightly as can be, he zipped out of dummy half on numerous occasions with copious amounts of zest. Making metres for the overall gain of his team seemed to come easy for him such was the speed of which he carved out his gains. So much so that it appeared to catch the opposition by surprise.

It wasn’t just South Sydney that was caught by surprise. Indeed, even his own club were caught on the hop having not signed Godinet to a fulltime contract, only discovering late last year that he was a mere twenty-two at the time. Needless to say Warriors management didn’t waste any time and signed him up with absolute haste.

And why wouldn’t they when faced with a player of Godinet’s supreme talent.

With the kind of ability he so clearly possesses, it’s now up to him to torpedo today’s talent towards the tip that thankfully traverses the tenacious tentacles that tantalisingly tease those that throb tellingly through transplanted treasures teetering towards the target, thus treating thy to the transparent thrills that transcend the treatments thrashed through taboo that therefore take the time to timelessly transpire.

That apogee threatens to find itself a lofty peak on the NRL mountainside. Sure, he is still extremely inexperienced, but all that means is that there is serious room for improvement left in him for as far as the optic can see.

With hard work there cannot be any reason why Godinet should fail in his mission to seal a long term career in Rugby League.

He has no shortage of talents.

There is that blistering speed off the mark. Add to that the foresight to see cavities in the opposition’s defensive line and make the utmost use of them. And there’s a challenge for the Christchurch born terrier; to be able to create chaos up the middle of the ruck week in, week out.

Lest we forget his versatility too, as he can play halfback or hooker, not to mention the fact that he offers value for money whether as a starting player, or coming off the interchange bench.

With Lance Hohaia currently out of the side injured, Godinet gets another chance this weekend to impress against the Canberra Raiders.

This is obviously good for him. What’s good for Godinet though, one suspects will not be so fruitful for the Raiders.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, they may discover this only through the sight of Godinet’s back as he scoots out of dummy half.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mayhem and Havoc have introduced themselves to the Rugby League folk of the Sydney Football Stadium, today.

Not only did they show their faces, they went to great lengths to discriminate against the New Zealand Warriors right side attack as the infiltrated the left centre/wing combination of Joel Moon and Manu Vatuvei.

And oh what fun they had.

Mayhem took on the appearance of Moon as he helped himself to a duo of tries. Then, there was Havoc. Beastly in appearance, it did a fine impersonation of Vatuvei scoring a hat trick. Along with a host of other try scorers, Moon and Vatuvei dined out on a South Sydney defensive effort that was lacking in intensity for long durations of the match as the Warriors marched their way to a decisive 48-16 pounding of the home side.

Right from the opening whistle the Warriors went about imposing their will on the match. They did everything asked of them with the ultimate of precision. Props Ben Mautalino and Russell Packer bent the spine (often dragging several tacklers with them for an extra metre or two more than what would normally be expected) of the South’s defensive line with every carry of the ball. So young, yet performing like old timers. The Warriors look a better team when Mautalino starts.

Not that the two props sitting on the interchange bench didn’t contribute to proceedings. To the contrary, they did. And that’s the problem for the likes of South Sydney. Just as they gratefully see the back of Packer and Mautalino, on comes Jacob Lillyman and Sam Rapira to torment would-be tacklers.

Then there’s their kick/chase. While the kicking sometimes failed to find open space, the chase more than made up for it. South’s were almost always presented with a straight defensive line to try and manoeuvre their way through. Needless to say, the Aucklanders didn’t sway in their vigilant efforts to subjugate their foe into what they saw as a suitable amount of subordination.

Thus, over the initial quarter of play, South Sydney had nowhere to go. Not even allowed a wee peek in. The Warriors were in total command as they dominated to reave the opposition of possession. They not only got the basics right to a tee, but they supplemented it with the odd touch of brilliance, too.

First there was James Maloney and Bill Tupou combining to score the first try of the day after Maloney put a delicate chip kick into South’s in-goal for Tupou to dot down only inches from the dead ball line. Four minutes into the match and a start you could only dream about.

It was a kick that the great Stacey Jones would have been proud of. For many years now, the Warriors have struggled to find the right personnel to provide a top rate kicking game. He doesn’t always get it spot on, but a good proportion of the time he is superb. The Warriors have a good one in Maloney. This particular hunt is over.
And that could well apply to the halfback position as well. For Shaun Johnson’s star continues to rise. Sure, that star is well away from its apex. But its path has been set. There appears to be no turning back now as Johnson continues to improve. He seems to have it all. Even his supposedly weak defence has stood up to the rigours of the NRL’s big men running at him. And he has that one thing they say can’t be coached: speed. And plenty of this he showed as he intercepted an Isaac Luke pass as South’s forced their way into the Warriors red zone during the 9th minute. Not being of a social inclination at the time, Johnson decided to forge out on his own and hotfoot it on a seventy-five metre dash to touch down and - after Maloney’s conversion - give his side a 12-0 lead.

Two more converted tries, one each to Maloney and Vatuvei, over the following sixteen minutes and the Warriors were running riot over South’s already tenuous top eight ambitions as the home side’s chances were in a williwaw state of upheaval.
It had been the perfect start for the Warriors. But as good as it had been nothing lasts forever. Momentum had to swing at some stage.

South’s, at least temporarily, added a little more starch to their defence. All of a sudden they had three men in the tackle and were driving opposites backwards. If only they could compete with this intensity for eighty minutes. You never know what they could achieve. Alas, they only seem to appropriate such efforts for the odd occasion. Then, that is why they were down by twenty-four points and all of a sudden having to show added initiative. It worked for a short time. A 36th minute try to Dylan Farrell at least got them on the board.

There was a slight glimmer of hope for the green and reds. That it began to glow somewhat brighter still after the break did the South’s fans mood no end of good. They were starting to find their voice as Chris McQueen decided a little trip to the Warriors in-goal area was called for after he had gathered a John Sutton bomb. With a conversion from the boot of Chris Sandow, South’s had cut the Warriors lead to fourteen.

There was hope for them yet.

Until, that is, mayhem entered the fray in all its glory. Shining brightly it bestrode the stage like a rampaging colossus of try scoring supremacy. Moon, being the key holder to this chaos, was of course revelling in his return to first grade football. Defensively sound for the entirety of the match, he also looked likely to pierce on attack with his probing runs. A stint playing for the Auckland Vulcan’s in the New South Wales Cup appears to have given him the shock needed to work hard on his game and to return to the first grade fold a lot hungrier, not to mention a better player.

A mighty effort on his part and two tries to show for his trouble. The first, in the 59th minute, was a beauty. It displayed all the merits of a fully functioning team that were there to help each other out whenever the need arose. After all, there is no I in the word team. While individual brilliance contributed in the form of Feleti Mateo offloading to put Maloney in a gap whereupon he beat two defenders on a thirty metre run, they still required their team mates to give them the opportunity to star. And just because one does something out of the ordinary, there is no reason to sit back and rest on one’s laurels. As Mateo proved when he backed up after his initial pass to take the next one from Maloney and carry the movement on. It had started in the right hand corner of their twenty metre zone. By the time Moon dotted down in the left corner, it had encompassed a good hundred metres and several tackles. It was fast, fluent, efficient and is how Rugby League should be played. It was a team try.

Just when the Warriors had finished unloading mayhem upon the enemy, with little sympathy they acquired a sizeable doze of havoc to foist on South’s. They were ahead 34-16, but why not unleash the beast? Certainly, it appeared no one in the Warriors outfit could see a reason why not, as Maloney and Johnson each put a bomb up for Vatuvei in the 66th and 70th minutes. It turns out Vatuvei has a voracious appetite for bombs in the oppositions in-goal area. No one in the competition can score these types of tries any better than Vatuvei. Yet there are many that question his form and value to the team. Go figure.

With six weeks to go until finals football, there is a mad rush on for six teams fighting over the final three vacant play-off spots. With point’s differential crucial to a team’s chances, a big win was a bonus for the Warriors. 42-16 ahead with ten minutes to go to fulltime, it could have been easy to for them to clock off. They didn’t though. Instead they pushed hard for the remainder of the encounter.
And paid off it did. For in the 79th minute the Warriors added to South Sydney’s woe with one final try. These days, everyone is in a rush. Often, it’s too much of a rush. That’s when errors can occur. Usually these happen at the most inappropriate of times. It could be said that it is symptomatic of a modern society where no one likes to wait for anything. Pita Godinet is no exception in some ways, such was his haste to get to the try line. From five metres out he didn’t wait for anyone as he scooted with lightening quick acceleration. And there was no error to be seen from him.

He was clear thinking under pressure, and in the twenty minutes he spent on the field in his debut performance, he was sharp in attack. Which means the Warriors may have unearthed a likely prospect for the near future either in the halves or at hooker as a backup to the incumbents. A place on the interchange bench awaits him in 2012.

And Godinet’s future for next year appears to be as bright as his side’s chances are for the remainder of this season.

The Warriors are building very nicely towards what may be a rather fulfilling crescendo.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A pairing has been proposed.

It is one that would set hearts aflutter. Fans from here, there and everywhere could not help but yearn for this ideal union. From afar they would come, that there is no doubt of. The big day would not come soon enough for many.

For Switzerland could soon have a King and Queen.

A Couple so steeped in royalty to show the way to all those admiring youngsters. A Couple that could bring great prosperity to their Country. A Couple that would lead from the front.

That is if Roger Federer gets his way.

It is Federer’s express desire to set in motion an alliance with a partner he has long desired. One that in his eyes would be his perfect match.

This would be the crowning glory on an already impressive career if he could win the mixed doubles at next year’s London Olympics with Martina Hingis.

Yes, that’s right; Federer has purportedly put forward a proposal ( the Swiss Miss.

There has been no word thus far as to whether one of the most tactically astute players to ever grace a tennis court has accepted his invitation.

The fifteen times grand slam winner has not played on the Pro circuit since late 2007, in part due to a two year ban for a failed drugs test. After having endured one comeback in 2006, she decided enough was enough and retired once again at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. Apparently it was for good this time.

Twenty-seven is young though, and one is a long time retired.

Maybe she’s starting to realise this as in 2010 she competed in the World teams’ tour. She enjoyed it too, by all accounts.

So it seems she still has a soft spot for the sport. She could be seen in the crowd watching the Women’s singles finals at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year. It certainly is not the act of a Woman that has lost her love for the game.

Having commented that she has thoroughly enjoyed her time back in tennis, let us hope she sees fit to make another comeback.

It doesn’t have to be singles, either. Just doubles and mixed doubles would be fine. Imagine her teaming up with Anna Kournikova again, to take on the modern day starlets. Neither has hit thirty yet, and plenty of good tennis is left in them.

And how great would it be to have the Hingis personality back in the game? That sure would liven things up a bit. There are many great players on the circuit today, but some of the character has gone out of the women’s game since the likes of Hingis moved on.

Many a male fan would dearly love to procure a kiss from the Swiss Miss, but such is her propensity for a well timed one-liner, they’re more than likely to find themselves getting dissed. But that’s part of the great lady’s appeal: not only does she possess a sharp tennis mind, but, also, a quicksilver wit and an overall intelligence (she is multi-lingual) that allows for a glowing personality.

She is an alrounder in every sense of the word. She has fans everywhere. They mourned the fact that she no longer had a tennis existence. What a fillip her return would have for them, as well as the game in general.

It surely would be great to see Hingis back in competitive tennis. As she said herself, everything she has in her life was possible because of tennis.

So here’s her chance to give back to the game and her fans.

And what better way could there be to celebrate a comeback than with a gold medal in London next year?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You know, Irene Van Dyke is thirty-nine. At the top, she’s had her turn. Surely it’s now time for her to go. Everyone says so. She’s past it, they say. And how could they not be in the know.

Fans, armchair critics, bloggers, media alike, there we all were, watching her for all these years plying her trade. Experts the lot of us, we are. Dutifully we followed the rise and rise of the South African born 6ft3” superstar. First as she made her way playing for her Country of birth, then for her adopted Country, New Zealand.

She’s one of us now. So much so that no one would dare question her kiwiness. Oh yeah, we loved her all right. We still do. But, you know, she’s thirty-nine now. At the top, she’s had her turn. Surely it’s now time for her to go. Everyone says so. She’s past it, they say. And how could they not be in the know.

She was for so long the high priestess of netballing sharpshooters. A gunslinger of the highest order. If you had Irene in your team, losing was rarely contemplated.

How could it be? After all, the lady with the winning personality and outrageous netballing talent regularly shot with a ninety-five percent success rate. No one else ever got near her. She had them beat every time.

At such a decrepit age, how could anyone possibly compete at an international level? Surely the old girl should be put out to pasture quick smart. We all saw her in her prime. Back in her heyday of the mid to late nineties, gliding in and out of the shooting circle with a graceful ease with which only a youngster achieve. Her speed once in the circle was that of lightning fast reflexes and speed faster than a bullet. She had no peer.

But, then, you know, she’s thirty-nine now. At the top, she’s had her turn. Surely it’s now time for her to go. Everyone says so. She’s past it, they say. And how could they not be in the know.

Then she came to little ol New Zealand. Pretty much, she went straight into the Silver ferns. They even improved her game there for a while. Many of us thought it was not possible for Van Dyke to take her game to new heights. But she proved us all wrong. We didn’t mind admitting that. For many sportspeople successfully succeed in performing at the highest level in their early thirties.

So, we thought the mistress of the hoops would go on for a few years before calling it quits. Surely she would know when her best before date was.

We trusted her. And this is how she repays us: by playing on until she is thirty-nine.

And what’s more, she has publically contemplated going on until the next World Champs. Outrageous. The nerve of that woman.

What will she come up with next? Maybe that she actually enjoys the camaraderie of being a member of a team, and that she finds the challenge of top class sport intoxicating. How dare she. Lock her up this very instance. This kind of shocking behaviour in our fine Country just will not do.

For, you know, Irene’s thirty-nine now. At the top, she’s had her turn. Surely it’s now time for her to go. Everyone says so. She’s past it, they say. And how could they not be in the know.

Hey, it’s not like she could possibly know how her own body is holding up to the rigours of top flight Netball. She should just ask the rest of us. We know what’s best for Irene. I mean, all that tough physical exertion that she goes through day after day- she couldn’t possibly understand how her body is coping. Not to mention how difficult it must be for her to ascertain how she is withstanding the mental strain of international Netball.

Just ask us Irene, we know what’s best for you. Full of helpful advice, we are.

And, anyone, just show us one example of a sportsman or woman that has ever played past their early thirties.

Ah ha, I knew it, you can’t, can you?

There was the great Richard Hadlee; retired by thirty. Don’t you dare suggest Barbara Kendall, either; retired by thirty, too.

See, nobody does it. So why should Irene? Much better that she goes with the flow, fits in with the expectations of societal norms. And lest we forget; there is certainly no room in today’s world for the individual selfishly living life in a way that she enjoys and makes her feel contented.

For, you know, Irene’s thirty-nine now. At the top, she’s had her turn. Surely it’s now time for her to go. Everyone says so. She’s past it, they say. And how could they not be in the know.

Thirty-nine. Get that? Thirty-nine. Yep, that’s right, thirty-nine. And there was Irene last week, at the World Champs, lumbering around in her old age trying to keep up with the youthfulness of her opposition.

And did she succeed? Well, hell no. She shot 34 from 35. That’s a miserable ninety-seven percent success rate.

With that kind of wayward shooting she may as well give the game away.

Just think how much better off the Silver Ferns would have been without Irene.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things are finally starting to look up for the New Zealand Warriors.

With a win over the Gold Coast Titans last Friday bringing to an end a four match losing streak, and other results going their way in round eighteen, the Warriors now occupy sixth position on the ladder with twenty points.

This leaves them requiring a likely four wins from their final eight regular season matches. Certainly not beyond the realms of possibility for a side well stocked with high calibre talent.

And with only Lewis Brown on the injured list, out of order as it were, stability lies with the boys from Mt Smart.

This, no doubt, would have Coach, Ivan Cleary, looking on the brighter side of life as he has named an unchanged (with the exception of Brown) line up for this Friday night’s encounter with the Canterbury Bulldogs in Auckland.

In Brown’s place comes Joel Moon, who has spent much of 2011 lingering in reserve grade playing for the Auckland Vulcans, to partner Shaun Berrigan in the centres.

Now that they have steadied the ship, that solidity of having a stable line up can only prove beneficial as they forge ahead in their quest to cement a place amongst the September elite.

Taking on a Bulldog’s outfit that has won only three from their past eight may not be the easy assignment that it first appears. Easy beats you would expect them to be. But every so often they will produce a performance of high quality such as their win over the Tigers a number of weeks back.

And therein lies the problem for the Warriors. They don’t know which Bulldogs outfit will turn up on the night. Being on their guard mentally becomes even more vital than is usual.

Of their remaining eight matches, six can be said to very much on the winnable side. And this is definitely one of those. This means getting on top of their opposition in the opening quarter and not letting them back into the game.

They have the pack to achieve this. It may be inexperienced in some cases, but that young pack with the likes of Russell Packer and Sam Rapira are gaining more experience all the time- along with Aaron Herimia who plays his 50th nrl match and State of Origin rep, Jacob Lillyman, has reached his 50th for the club.

Along with Simon Mannering, who has found himself firmly ensconced back in the pack after his foray into the centres, they have the cattle to dominate up front.

If they can achieve this, then young superstar in the making, Shaun Johnson, who has been given another chance by Cleary despite a subpar performance against the Titans, will have a chance to join up with the likes of Feleti Mateo on the left edge and create a menace of himself.

That can only be a good thing for the Warriors chances come Friday.

Warriors side to play the Bulldogs on Friday night:

Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering(c), Michael Luck
Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Sam Rapira, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Steve Rapira

Monday, July 11, 2011

Humility is the by-product of self-confidence.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

After three performances in the month of June that were more than adequate, Shaun Johnson lost some of his lustre as it faded into the gloom of a damp and despondent Auckland evening.

Despite, at times, the young halfback being sucked into a spiral of indecision, the New Zealand Warriors-after four consecutive losses- managed to get back into the winning groove with a 22-6 victory over the Gold Coast Titans.

It was a struggle at times for the home team. Not only that, but Johnson, in particular during the first half, scratched around trying to find his way.

At a loss, he was, to know where to go. All too often he would crab across field looking for that elusive gap in the opposition defence, but when it didn’t appear he mostly couldn’t find another gear. He would take the tackle, go to ground, with the play breaking down.

His team suffered for it.

In his head, he was intent on making a break with every touch of the ball he had. He would be better served to slow down and bide his time. Sit back, pass for the majority of the game. Soon enough he’ll have it on a dime. Let others test the line. With less pressure on him, in his own mind, he may just start to see what is in front of him more clearly. Then when that opening does come his way, he’ll stand more than a little chance to secure the opportunity to put his team in a more dominant position.

Alas, his night, it was not to be.

Eventually his Coach, Ivan Cleary, lost patience, hooking him in the seventieth minute and replaced him with Lance Hohaia for the remainder of the match.

If Johnson was a little hit and miss on the night, the same could be said for the team overall. They did enough to beat an ordinary Titans outfit, but as sure as they had their good times, the bad happened along in equal measure too.

The first twenty minutes were played as if the locals were on a ten match winning streak such was the confidence with which they threw the ball around. The Titan’s right side defence was a favourite outlet for the likes of Feleti Mateo and Manu Vatuvei to vent their attacking wares. Time and again they spied space to be had. And they finished things off nicely, too. Tries to Shaun Berrigan and Bill Tupou had the Warriors 10-0 ahead.

Life was looking good.

Until, that is, they invited a slumber into the party. Errors crept in as their intensity nodded off. Dropped ball, penalties given wasn’t all that pretty.

The Titans closed the gap with a converted try, but in general, if the Warriors were ordinary at times, the visitors were able to see their ordinariness and raise them a good helping of mediocrity.

But once again it was a half of two halves. The good, as in the first half, came initially. Tries to Simon Mannering and Vatuvei put the Warriors out of reach, from their foe.

Then, it was back to sleep.

Luckily for the Warriors they were not faced with a more potent opposition. If they had, the result would have been far from satisfactory.

That said, a win is a win and they are at least heading north.

And Kevin Locke continues to scintillate at fullback. With him in the side, the Warriors are better equipped to deal with the attacking rigours of NRL football. Not only is he capable of busting the tackle, but his support play adds another dimension to this side.

Locke must search out the offloading Mateo as often as is possible and strike up a lasting relationship.

If he can achieve this then it will be for the betterment of a team in with a decent show of attaining finals footballing action.

Monday, July 4, 2011

On March 8 1990 a star came into existence. It wasn’t all that big in the early stages. It didn’t burn particularly brightly to begin with. But over time it grew, expanded and blossomed into one of the most dazzling of all stars.

Its brightness ebbed and flowed at times. Sometimes you could spot it without any hindrance at all. In all its glory, there it was for all to see.

At other times its glow seemed to dissipate into a cloud of uncertainty. On occasions it would delve into the sphere of another star. It had every right to be there. In itself, though, it just wasn’t so sure.

Then one day on a brilliantly fine London Saturday... BOOM... that star exploded onto the scene once and for all. Before an adoring audience it delighted all and sundry with a performance as magnificent as it was mesmerising.

That star, all those years ago, they called Petra. Petra Kvitova, that is.

And here she was at Wimbledon, the home of tennis, the lead star in a galaxy of stars. Tall, powerful and aggressive this is one Amazonian star in its ascendency.

All big shots when need be, but with the touch and finesse that make for a more complete player.

In the final against Russian Maria Sharapova, the Czechoslovakian who was born in the small town of Bilovec was all too strong for her foe. What a sight it was, to see Sharapova- one of the biggest hitters in the Women’s game- being swatted aside by the physically stronger Kvitova.

And not a grunt to be heard on the part of Kvitova, too.

Scary it must be for her opponents of the future to see a twenty-one year old in the infancy of her career hitting the ball with such ferocity. Over the next five years or so, the left handed Kvitova will only go from strength to strength. Her power will increase and when she gains true consistency in her game...well, it doesn’t bear thinking about for her opposition.

It must be bad enough as it is for the likes of Sharapova to see shots come whistling back with no reaction time to respond. Just imagine what it’s going to be like in the not too distant future. What’s worse for them is that Kvitova is strong off both the forehand and backhand. There is simply no let up.

This leads us to the swinging left hand serve that she has been endowed with. It is to die for. With the capacity to take her enemy wide of the court, it is just one more weapon she possesses within an armoury that is positively overflowing.

So much so that is hard not to see her dominating the Women’s game for a long time to come. With the obvious strong mental fortitude that she is the owner of, her challengers have the steepest of hurdles to climb.

And on the evidence of the past two weeks, it looks increasingly likely that they will be spending a lot of time playing catch up.

For Kvitova appears on the brink of becoming something very special indeed.

So unique and ahead of the field that she could yet become the tour’s equivalent of a four leaf clover, not to mention a fully fledged supernova.