While “straight-game wins” was the overall theme of the Finals, picking a winner was not all that straight-forward. Read on for a glimpse of the last matches of the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2018 in Hamilton, New Zealand last weekend.
The Finals of the VICTOR Oceania Championships promised for an exciting round of matches, with a strong presence of previous Olympians and Commonwealth Games representatives competing. But while there were a couple of close games, no rubber-matches eventuated this time round.
Green and gold dominated, with all-Australian finals being played out in all disciplines except for the Men’s Singles. The opening match, the Mixed Doubles Final, featured previous Australian Olympians Matthew CHAU, Leanne CHOO, Sawan SERASINGHE and National Team Badminton player Setyana MAPASA. Spectators watched intently to see whether the new combination CHAU/CHOO could throwover reigning Oceania Champions SERASINGHE/MAPASA . However, SERASINGHE/MAPASA followed up their Number 1 seed with the win (21-19, 21-18).
Rio 2016 Olympian, Hsuan-Yu Wendy CHEN  (AUS) also retained her top spot for the third consecutive year in the Women’s Singles at Oceania Championships to win comfortably over Louisa MA  (AUS). CHEN moved quickly to reach the 11-point break in both games, taking no chances to drop a game throughout the entire tournament. MA, down 3-15 in the second game finally took some control of play but was unfortunately a little too late to catch up, scoring 21-7, 21-14.
Next up was the Men’s Singles final – featuring Abhinav “Mani” MANOTA (NZL) and the very entertaining Remi ROSSI (TAH). MANOTA’s first Oceania Championships entry this year was made possible due to a change in Badminton World Federation (BWF) regulations, which also allowed him to finally compete for the New Zealand National Team. In good spirits, MANOTA smashed his debut at the Oceania Championships and charged ahead of ROSSI in the later halves of the games, championing the Men’s Singles, 21-12, 21-14.
MAPASA returned to the show court for the Women’s Doubles Final, paired up with Gronya SOMERVILLE  (AUS). The previous Commonwealth Games doubles pair went head-to-head against London 2012 Olympic pair, CHOO and Renuga VEERAN  (AUS). CHOO/VEERAN made their first reunion since the London Olympics in December last year, and MAPASA/SOMERVILLE took advantage of their opponents’ lack of practice to win the first game 21-14. Game 2 was a new beginning for CHOO/VEERAN who kept ahead of their opposition for most of the game. MAPASA and SOMERVILLE were behind 7-15, then 16-20 at their opponent’s game point. However, no-one could have predicted MAPASA/SOMERVILLE to steal any chances of the win from CHOO/VEERAN, championing the match 22-20.
The last match of the day was a Men’s Doubles battle between Australian Olympic pair, CHAU/SERASINGHE  versus Olympians and Commonwealth Games combination Robin MIDDLETON and Ross SMITH (AUS). MIDDLETON/SMITH were hot on their opponents’ tails throughout the entire match. But at the time of the crunch, CHAU/SERASINGHE outplayed MIDDLETON/SMITH to win their fourth Oceania Championships, 21-17, 23-21.
For some players, the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2018 was the finale of over a week’s worth of elite badminton competition which included the VICTOR Oceania Team Championships and the YONEX North Harbour International 2018 in Forrest Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. But for nations such as Australia and Fiji, the tournament was the last opportunity to accumulate results for eligibility to compete at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Australia, the only nation in the Oceania region to enter a team in the Mixed Team event, are due to select and announce the successful representative players by the end of the month.
The VICTOR Oceania Championships was a fantastic preview of what is to come of elite badminton in the region. Congratulations to all players and their coaches and support networks back home, across 7 countries in Oceania, represented at the tournament.
Badminton Oceania thanks all the Technical Officials, volunteers, TJ Weistra and the team at Waikato Badminton Association Inc, Badminton New Zealand – in particular, Sam Paterson – for all their hard work for the VICTOR Oceania Championships this week. We also extend our appreciation to all our sponsors for this event – especially VICTOR International, our Title Sponsor of the Oceania Championships for the second consecutive time.