The Australian supremacy was on display last night at Salle Anewy in Noumea, as their players took out the title in every event at the Casa Del Sole Noumea International. With Australians holding 8 of the 10 finals berths, it was going to take something special to upset their party, and unfortunately, Kiwis Dylan Soedjasa and Susannah Leydon-Davis weren’t able to find the winning formula. The whitewash became a certainty with two matches to go, when Soedjasa lost his men’s singles final to Ashwant Gobinathan, after earlier coming up short in the mixed doubles final with partner Susannah Leydon-Davis.
The first match of the day had plenty for the crowd to get excited about, with both sides showing their class and continually adapting their play to take advantage of the slightest weakness. Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa (AUS) took the first game 21-13, with Sawan being given too many opportunities to unleash his decisive smash. Dylan Soedjasa and Susannah Leydon-Davis came back with a new focus in the second game and changed the tempo, forcing a lot more movement and mistakes from their opponents, and levelling the scores a 1-1. The final game saw Serasinghe and Mapasa pick up an early lead, which they defended bravely as the game headed towards the hour-mark, winning 21-13 15-21 21-17.
In the women’s singles, top seed, Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, was untroubled by second seed, Joy Lai, as she won in convincing fashion 21-16 21-9. After putting up a good fight in the first game, it was clear that Lai was being worn down by Chen, who seemed to move about the court in an almost-robotic fashion, never looking particularly stretched.
The excitement continued as the two finalists in the men’s singles, Ashwant Gobinathan (AUS) and Dylan Soedjasa (NZ), put on a display of explosive power and speed that the crowd loved. In the first game, there was never more than a few points separating the two. At 20-all, a hotly debated line-call saw Soedjasa edge ahead to 21-20, but his luck ran out shortly after, with Gobinathan picking up the two consecutive points needed to take the game 24-22. Having played once already, it looked like the heat and exertion were beginning to take a toll on Soedjasa, as a few mistakes crept in to give Gobinathan enough of a buffer to see him take the second game 21-15.
Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa (AUS) showed why they are the number one seeds, claiming their crown in a match that lasted just 25 minutes, as they defeated Joy Lai and Tiffany Ho (AUS). The result never really looked in doubt as Somerville and Mapasa continued to display the skill and relentless pace that had led them to the final. Speaking to Gronya before the match, the focus was to be a bit more accurate and purposeful in their attack, and it’s fair to say they didn’t waste any opportunities, comfortably winning 21-11 21-8.
The last match of the day was another all-Australian encounter with top seeds Matthew Chau and Sawan Serasinghe cutting short the dream run of Joel Findlay and Jeff Tho. Having upset two seeds on their road to the final, Findlay and Tho looked ready to take another scalp and came out on top in a fierce first game, 21-17. The change of ends saw a different Chau and Serasinghe return to court, where they brought furious aggression to the net to intercept and kill a number of points, taking the second game decisively 21-7. By this point, the momentum had swung largely to Chau and Serasinghe’s favour and they made a strong start in the third game, which they held despite a late fight-back from Findlay and Tho, winning 21-14.
While the Casa Del Sole Noumea International has come to a close, you can still catch all of these players in action this week, as the VICTOR Oceania Championships begin at Salle Anewy. Come down and watch, or tune in live at http://bit.ly/OceaniaLive.