Australian shuttlers had the most success as the Casa Del Sole Noumea International got underway today at Salle Anewy in Noumea, putting on dominant displays in the singles and claiming a number of quarter-final berths.
New Caledonian players made a good showing for themselves, embracing the opportunity to gain some experience at an international level with this event in their backyard, however they struggled against the strong challenge from the Australian and New Zealand contingent attending. Unfortunately, the depth of talent from the visiting players proved to be too much and by the end of play, no local players remained in any event, although fans were treated to some thrilling displays of determination and effort. One player that captured the crowd’s attention was Ronan Ho-Yagues, who seemed to dive from corner to corner, chasing an elusive shuttle.
Arnaud Franzi put on the best display of the local players, forcing New Zealand Under 19 Doubles Champion Dacmen Vong into 3 games, and one of the longest matches of the day. After a tiring 37 minutes, Vong secured the win 21-13 19-21 21-10.
But today belonged to the Australian players, dropping only 2 matches across the men’s and women’s singles. Top seed, Pit Seng Low (AUS) was pushed hard by talented NZ Junior, Edward Lau, in a 59-minute arm-wrestle that had the crowd glued to their seats. As the hour mark approached, Low got the upper hand to complete the match 21-19 17-21 21-14, and both players left the court looking completely drained.
Keeping a candle burning in the women’s singles, New Zealander Sally Fu defeated Claudia Lam (AUS) in three games to put her name down as one of the only Kiwis to survive the Australian onslaught.
It was a similar story in the men’s doubles, with Australia again showing their class. Second seed pair of Mitchell Wheller and Simon Leung (AUS) played out a see-sawing match against the experienced Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and up-and-comer Nicco Tagle (NZ). Turning 5 points behind at 11-6 in the third game, the Kiwi pair didn’t give up and were looking to steal the match as they pulled up to 20-19, however the intense speed and pressure of Wheller and Leung was too much to overcome, with the match finishing 19-21 21-13 21-19.
A small draw in the women’s doubles means we are yet the see the top two seeds in action. The first round saw straight-game victories for Lam/Serasinghe (AUS), Leydon-Davis/Tahuri (NZ) and Ho/Lai (AUS) setting up for some good quarter-finals tomorrow, where a lot of Trans-Tasman rivalry is expected to flare up.
The mixed doubles offered fans a few upsets, with both the second and third seeded pairs bowing out to unseeded New Zealand pairs. The young combination of Dacmen Vong and Alyssa Tagle won a gruelling encounter with Simon Leung and Tiffany Ho (3) (AUS) 21-15 16-21 21-17, while the more experienced Dylan Soedjasa and Susannah Leydon-Davis pair eased past second seeds Anthony Joe and Joy Lai (AUS) 21-14 21-15. Heading into the quarter-finals, the draw is split evenly between the Trans-Tasman neighbours, with Australia and New Zealand each holding four spots.
Quarter-finals begin tomorrow from 5pm at Salle Anewy. Spectators are welcome to attend, and for fans from further afield, there is live streaming of two courts at http://bit.ly/OceaniaLive.