Over the last two weeks there has been international badminton in the Northern Mariana Islands with many players from numerous nations enjoying the tournaments and the beautiful location they are in. Two of these are players from Europe with this being their first visit to Saipan.
Max Weisskirchen and Elias Bracke are good friends on and off the court. Speaking with them at the TAKECARE Saipan International 2023, Weisskirchen from Germany and Bracke from Belgium are both very happy to be playing two tournaments in as many weeks in Saipan. “I like this format a lot because I don’t have to travel, and I will come back next year. It is a good tournament” Weisskirchen said of this new Badminton Oceania concept. Bracke agreed saying “We already travel so much so two weeks in the same place is a kind of luxury”.
Julie Carrel, Secretary General of Badminton Oceania was instrumental in creating the CROWNE PLAZA Northern Marianas Open 2023 and TAKECARE Saipan International 2023 in the same location, in concurrent weeks. “With the change in the BWF Grade 3 sanction policy in 2022 allowing a country to host two international challenge tournaments in one year, it opened up an opportunity to have the two tournaments back-to-back in the same location as I knew this would appeal to players as it reduces travel costs and time” says Julie Carrel.
In round one of the TAKECARE Saipan International 2023 the two friends from bordering countries were drawn to play each other. With the match tied at one game all, Weisskirchen brought out the big smash and long reach to attack and defend against his travelling and training partner. At the conclusion of their match, Bracke spoke of their relationship, saying “We are professional enough that once we step on court, we put our emotions aside. I don’t think it affects us much, we are probably a little more friendly toward each other on court”.
Weisskirchen won the match between the two, and now faces Chen Chi Ting (TPE) in the second round. “I am excited to play him as we have never met on court before”.
In the CROWNE PLAZA Northern Marianas Open 2023, Weisskirchen and Bracke made it to the second round of the men’s singles before bowing out to eventual runner up Jeon Hyeok Jin (KOR) and Cheng-Han Tsai (TPE) respectively.
Following the TAKECARE Saipan International 2023, the duo travel to the Yonex Taipei Open 2023.