Tahiti and New Caledonia were winners following their opening matches at the Oceania Mixed Team Championships at X-TRM North Harbour Centre in Auckland, New Zealand.
New Caledonia comfortably accounted for Guam by 5-0 with Johanna Kou and Loic Mennesson downing Michelle Kremper and David Yao 21-12, 21-6, in the Mixed Doubles. Further wins by Thomas Lahaut over Sunardi Li 21-9 and 21-14 in the Men’s Singles gave New Caledonia a 2-0 lead.
That advantage was extended again when Cecilia Moussy defeated Emily Yang 21-3 and 21-1. In the Men’s Doubles, Thomas Lahaut and Loic Mennesson won but they didn’t have it all their own way with Li and Yao pushing them close in the first game but coming up just short 21-15. Lahaut and Mennesson reasserted themselves to take the second game 21-10.
For Guam, Chinese-based twins Grace and Sarah Cai twice took the lead over Kou and Moussy in the Women’s Doubles only for their experienced opponents to claw back the deficit to register 21-11 and 21-16 wins to complete the 5-0 victory for Les Cagous.
New Caledonia coach Fabian Nadmimin was pleased with the outcome.
“Our objective was to win this game 5-0 and we achieved that and we wanted our best players to play.
“It is difficult against a less strong opponent but you have to play better and demonstrate confidence and concentration.
“Our next objective is to beat Tahiti and there will be pressure on our players and team to achieve that target,” Nadmimin said.
Guam’s David Yao was realistic about the result but said his team could be satisfied with their performance.
“We’re doing very well considering the amount of training we’ve had. I’m not expecting our players more than what they’re capable of.
“They are able to get access to facilities to train and we’re hoping to beat Tonga that’s the objective.
“Grace and Sarah did well and I’m very pleased with their performance. They’ve had a bit more opportunity to train than us because they play with their school in China.
“The highlight was the twins and it showed us how we need to work a bit better on the courts.
“A lot of times when we practice we pair players up and say ‘okay, we’re training’, but its not together as a team or a doubles team. That’s one of the main things we need to work on,” Yao said.
There was drama in the morning’s other match when Tonga pushed Tahiti all the way despite a 4-1 defeat.
Tonga’s Lauti Naaniumotu and Litea Lupe Moe Valu Tatafu won a thrilling showdown with Tahitian pair Michael Ajonc and Pauline Segrestan 21-18 and 21-15 in a tense Mixed Doubles match.
That set-up another close game when Quentin Bernaix downing the impressive Metuisela Talakai Vainikolo 21-17 and 21-13.
Chloe Segrestan restored some Tahitian dominance with a comfortable Women’s Singles victory over Lusia Ki Taulanga Faukafa 21-7, 21-4, a result that nosed the French Polynesians into a 2-1 lead.
Then came the highlight of the morning – a three set Men’s Doubles match between Naaniumotu and Vainikolo and Hugo Sautereau and Kyliam Scilloux.
Sautereau and Scilloux won a nervy first set 21-19 before Naaniumotu and Vainikolo bounced straight back with a sublime win in the second 21-13.
The third set got away from the Tonga duo and Sautereau and Scilloux took victory with a 21-10 win.
The Women’s Doubles proved academic for Aurelie Boutin and Chloe Segrestan who brushed by Faukafa and Tatafu 21-11, 21-6, to give the tie to Tahiti by 4-1.
Lauti Naaniumotu, who had an outstanding morning on court, was despondent with the result but optimistic.
“We have to get back to the court and work with our team and aim high for the future not just for today.
“I’m happy with our team and where we are, but we need more hard work and training to come back.
“We trained very hard to get to this point and I’m proud of our improvement and the improvement of our team. We know what we have to work on.
“I respect the Tahitians, they trained hard and we’re looking forward to playing Guam. We’ll see what happens when we get on court but we will look to come back hard,” he said.
Tahitian player Kyliam Scilloux praised Tonga for their performance and looked ahead to the Francophone showdown with New Caledonia.
“Tonga showed big improvement and they played better than last year. The training they have done over the past year has been good.
“Today I felt I played okay but I think we need to be better physically and we need to work on our technique.
“We’ll see how good New Caledonia is in this game because Tahiti has never beaten them before. This is just our third time at the Championships but I believe we have a better team now and we’ll see what happens later today,” he said.
The next round of matches is at 4pm NZST today when New Caledonia face Tahiti and Guam take on Tonga.
Oceania Mixed Team Championship – Stage 1
Results available here
Standings available here
Oceania Mixed Team Championship – Stage 1
Tuesday 16 February, 2016
4.00pm New Caledonia v Tahiti
4.00pm NZST Tonga v Guam
Wednesday 17 February, 2016
10.00am NZST New Caledonia v Tonga
10.00am NZST Tahiti v Guam
Oceania Mixed Team Championship – Stage 2
Wednesday 17 February
4.00pm NZST Australia v Stage 1 #2
4.00pm NZST New Zealand v Stage 1 #1
Thursday 18 February
10.00am NZST Australia v Stage 1 #1
10.00am NZST New Zealand v Stage 1 #2
4.00pm NZST Australia v New Zealand
4.00pm NZST Stage 1 #1 v Stage 1 #2