It was a busy and long day at Salle Anewy in New Caledonia, as over 100 players took to the courts in the first day of the VICTOR Oceania Junior and Senior Championships. It was heartening to see players from every participating country find success in the junior event, setting up for an interesting day two. The senior event unfortunately followed in the same theme as last week’s Casa Del Sole Noumea International, with all the New Caledonian players falling to their New Zealand and Australian opponents on day one.
Hugo Sautereau (PYF) and Quentin Bernaix (PYF) both held their nerve in tough singles matches to overcome their New Caledonian opponents and progress through to the second day. The pair then combined to dismiss Guillermo Buisson and Gabriel Vallette (NCL) in the Men’s doubles later in the day.
Christine Zhang (NZ) was pushed hard in the Women’s singles by Australian Lauren Lim. Losing a close first game 18-21, Zhang began to pick up the tempo and overwhelm Lim, taking the second game 21-16 and the third comfortably, 21-11. Top seed Aurelie Bouttin (PYF) was upset by Gaea Galvez (NZ), and Chloe Chen (AUS) sent forth seed, Tamara Otene (NZ), home early in a three-game thriller 20-22 21-16 22-20.
The seeds were untroubled in the mixed doubles, however keep an eye for some upsets in day two as a number of strong, but unseeded combinations, challenge the top pairs.
In a surprising turn of events, Men’s singles finalists from the Casa Del Sole Noumea International – Ashwant Gobinathan (AUS) and Dylan Soedjasa (NZ) – found themselves drawn against each other in the first round of the Senior event, offering Soedjasa a tasty opportunity to avenge his close defeat on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was not to be with Gobinathan again winning 15-21 21-15 21-19.
The remainder of the matches were largely a formality, as the Australian and New Zealand players marched onwards into the second day. With the exception of the Gobinathan/Soedjasa Men’s singles match, no other matches went to three games, and all but two were completed in 30 minutes or less.
For the players it was a good opportunity to rest and recover following the Noumea International, as the competition will certainly heat up again as we move towards the business end of the Oceania Championships, and see plenty of trans-Tasman battles.