The first Olympic qualifying event of the year comes to Auckland next week as the reputable Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open returns for another year.
Players will compete at the Eventfinda Stadium, with several of the world’s top players travelling to New Zealand – hungry for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification.
Play begins on Tuesday 30 April with the qualifying rounds. Overall, there are four qualification spots up for grabs in the men’s and women’s singles. Amongst the impressive entry this year, Australia’s Pit Seng Low, Anthony Joe and Peter Yan will be looking to overcome their Asian and European opponents on Tuesday to secure a space in the main round:
- Pit Seng Low (AUS) vs Zvonimir Durkinjak (CRO)
- Peter Yan (AUS) vs Parupalli Kashyap  (IND)
- Anthony Joe (AUS) vs Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk  (THA)
“The men’s singles draw is extremely tough this year considering its the first tournament towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. My first opponent from Thailand will be extremely difficult coming off from a few big wins last year. I intend to train as usual with a bit of study on the strengths and weaknesses of my opponent. But mainly I will be making sure that I am physically and mentally up to par for the challenge with specific match preparation exercises.” – Anthony Joe, Australia
The main draw commences on Wednesday 31 April and New Zealand’s wild card entry, Abhinav Manota will be flying the flag for the region against the badminton legend and seventh seed from China, Lin Dan.
- Abhinav Manota (NZL) vs Lin Dan  (CHN)
“Playing against Lin Dan (the Badminton God) will be awesome. I see this as an opportunity to learn so much! I have nothing to lose but so many things to gain. I am so looking forward to play against him” – Manota.
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, Australia’s Louisa Ma and Yingzi Jiang will be looking to overcome strong opposition in the qualification stages for a place in the main draw alongside New Zealand’s Shaunna Li – reigning regional junior women’s singles champion. As opposed to the men’s singles qualifiers which consists of two rounds, only one match stands in the way of the women reaching the main draw.
- Louisa Ma (AUS) vs Isabelle Rusli (USA)
- Yingzi Jiang (AUS) vs Li Yun (CHN)
- Shaunna Li (NZL) vs Lauren Lam  (USA)
Australia’s Olympian, Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, has qualified for the main draw and will be up against qualifier number two on Wednesday 31 April. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Sally Fu will take to the courts as the wild card entry and will face Ruselli Hartawan of Indonesia.
- Sally Fu (NZL) vs Ruselli Hartawan (INA)
- Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen (AUS) vs ‘Q2’
“I guess I am quite lucky to be playing a younger player and not a top seed, however playing a top seeded player would be such a great experience for me so I can compare my level of badminton to what a top seeded players’ level would be like, and see what I’ll need to improve to be on their level. But regardless of who I am playing I will clearly be the underdog and up against a much higher ranked opponent. I’m happy to be able to represent New Zealand at this event and I’m also really nervous because I want to make New Zealand proud and perform the best I can.” – Sally Fu, New Zealand (quote credit – Badminton New Zealand)
The wild card entries at this year’s event include:
- Abhinav Manota, men’s singles
- Sally Fun, women’s singles
- Riga Oud and Daxxon Vong, men’s doubles
- Sally Fu and Alyssa Tagle, women’s doubles
- Anona Pak and Maika Phillips, mixed doubles
Find out more about the event and keep track of the draw on Tournament Software.