Pictured: Leonard Manuel, Northern Marianas. Photo Credit: Michael Jornal
The home team (Northern Marianas) celebrated their first win this morning, with an empathic 5-0 victory over the Solomon Islands.
In the men’s singles, Jeffery Kalia (Solomon Islands) showed glimpses of hope to take one match for the team, but Leonard Manuel proved too strong in the end, winning 21-15 21-13.
In fact, it ended up being a 5-0 whitewash in all three morning ties as the top two seeds New Caledonia and Tahiti eased past their opponents.
Across both ties, the women’s doubles became the main match of contention. Guam’s Mary Labang and Jennica Silva only just missed out on the game against the New Caledonians. Once again, the experience of Johanna Kou helped to secure the game when under pressure during the tense climax of both games, which alongside Marine Naveros, secured a 21-18 21-19 victory.
Similarly, Malia Takasi and Endrina Nau proved to be the biggest challenge for Tahiti, who eased through their other games against Wallis and Futuna. The young talents of Jenica Lesourd and Mélissa Mi You brought the same composure onto court that saw them through their TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman and Uber Cup Finals debuts last year, where they came up against world-class opposition. Despite some tense moments in the game, they were able to ensure Tahiti did not drop a single game, winning 21-13 21-18.
The first game to grace the courts this afternoon became one of the longest in the tournament so far. The mixed doubles between Northern Marianas and Wallis and Futuna set the tone for the tie, as both pairs demonstrated their desperation to win. The duo from Wallis and Futuna had to rethink their strategy after winning a comfortable first game, but losing the second. Placing their feet back on the pedals, they fought until the end to secure a 21-18 victory after 36 minutes.
Julien Dauptain (Wallis and Futuna) returned to the court for the men’s singles, where he had to see off the challenge from Andreau Galvez. Knowing that is was the last chance to keep the team’s dream alive, Andreau laid everything out on court, seemingly very close to forcing a third and deciding game. However, in a game that seemed to be swaying in momentum, Dauptain clearly did not fancy another end, narrowly taking the win 21-11 21-19.
Nonetheless, the home team never gave up. The last two matches (women’s and men’s doubles) raised the roof at Gilbert C.Ada Gymnasium, with fantastic rallies to the crowd’s delight, helping Northern Marianas secure 2 matches and ending with a frustratingly close 3-2 loss to Wallis and Futuna.
Elsewhere in the hall, the top two seeds made relatively light work of their penultimate group ties, barely letting their opponents into double figures.
New Caledonia stormed through their match against Solomon Islands. Similarly, it was a quick run for Tahiti against Guam, up until the women’s doubles.
Guam’s Mary Labang and Jennica Silva have been impressive throughout the Mixed Team competition, having won one and only just missing out against Wallis and Futuna and tournament favourites, New Caledonia. This afternoon, they were able to enhance the challenge against the more favored pair from Tahiti, leading up until 11-10 in the first game. However, once the Tahitian’s returned to court, they showed no mercy to run away with the games 21-17 21-9 to secure another whitewash victory.
There is only one round left in the Mixed Team event of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022, which begins at 11am on Wednesday 22 June (local time, GMT+10).
As far as the tables stand, the top two seeds New Caledonia and Tahiti will be playing off for the gold medal. Following their victory against the home team today, Wallis and Futuna are on track for the bronze medal if they can see off the challenge from the Solomon Islands tomorrow.
Leaving the neighbouring countries, Guam and Northern Marianas, to play off for 4th and 5th position.
All photo highlights from day two will be available to view on Badminton Oceania’s Facebook page.
View a full breakdown of results on Tournament Software.
You can watch all matches on courts one and two throughout the tournament for free on the live stream – click here to watch.