Shepparton Hornets locked in a position in Goulburn Murray Lawn Tennis Association finals with a hard-fought win against Numurkah Warriors on Saturday.
They won five of the eight sets on offer in the GM1 clash, but would only build a seven-game gap on the Warriors in a close match.
But the final result was what mattered for the Hornets, claiming their second win of the season and improving to a 14-point lead on the ladder, assuring them the chance to play finals.
Crucial in the 5-55 to 3-48 win for the Hornets was James Curtis-McDonald, who beat Mark Mills 8-1 in a one-sided singles encounter.
Also important was Hope Curtis-McDonald who won each of her three encounters; a singles win against Helene Steward (8-7) and doubles matches with James Curtis-McDonald (8-6) and Jessica Dalton (8-6).
Leading the Warriors’ fight was Brayden Price, winning his singles against Luke Turcato (8-5), as well as his doubles with Mills (8-3) and Caitlyn Price (8-7).
The Hornets’ only other win for the season also came against the Warriors, a 5-58 to 3-43 result.
The division’s other game was a forfeit, with the Shepparton Lakers unable to field a side against Tatura.
Tatura took full points as a result and is 11 points clear at the top of the table — but Robins captain David Starling said the second-placed Bulls were the team to beat.
‘‘We might be on top, but Shepparton is definitely the favourite,’’ he said.
‘‘They’ve got Luke Dixon, Jarrod Bingham, Eliza Long and even Katie Ferguson there as well; that’s a really, really tough team to beat.
‘‘They’ll go in as favourites, but we’ll go out there and have a real crack.’’
In GM2A action, there was a big upset with Kialla Park beating Dhurringile-Stanhope 7-71 to 4-54.
Fourth-placed Park was in danger of falling outside of the top four against the higher-ranked side, but produced a stunning return to form.
With the singles encounters split, Kialla Park took five of the seven doubles matches to take the 7-71 to 4-54 win.
Robbie Mifka delivered three wins, including a dominating 8-0 doubles display with Tanner Hunter.
Shepparton Lions continued strong form that has taken them to the top of the division, beating Tatura Mudlarks 8-64 to 3-42.
They swept the singles as James Nethersole, Nathan Mitchell, Anna Reynolds and Esma Corbic all won comfortably.
Alan Morse was best for the Mudlarks, winning doubles matches with Matthew Nihill (8-1) and Lynda Hunter (8-2).
Yarrawonga beat bottom-ranked Shepparton Giants in the closest match of the weekend, only winning by five games despite seven of 11 sets going its way.
Ronan Pritchard won all three of his sets for Yarrawonga.