Pictured: Janelle Pangilinan and Jenine Savellano, New Caledonia. Photo Credit: Michael Jornal
Second seeds Tahiti opened their campaign with a convincing 5-0 victory over the home team, Northern Marianas, on day one of the Mixed Team event in Northern Marianas.
Rémi Rossi and Melissa Mi You got off to a strong start in the mixed doubles, before Quentin Bernaix won an equally convincing match in the men’s singles.
Northern Marianas’ national champion Janelle Pangilinan seemed on track to cause the first upset, leading in the first game before narrowly missing out 21-19. Her opponent, Jenica Lesourd may be younger but has already benefitted from international exposure after competing in the TotalEnergies BWF Sudriman and Uber Cup Finals 2021. Lesourd showed no remorse in the second game as she stunned her opponent 21-2 to take the match.
Pangilinan later returned in the women’s doubles, becoming a highlight of the morning session. Alongside Jenine Savellano, the put on a valiant display with a couple of cross court dives to take the match to a third and deciding game, raising the roof as the home crowd cheered from courtside. However, it was not meant to be for the home pair, narrowly missing out to the favored Tahitians in the third, electrifying game 8-21 21-19 19-21.
Elsewhere in Gilbert. C Ada Gymnasium, Guam dominated with a 5-0 victory over Solomon Islands – who are making their Mixed Team debut.
In their opening mixed doubles game, Joseph Taupiri and Cathrine Temete secured the most amount of points for Solomon Islands, going down 21-12 21-17 to the more experienced Sunardi Li and Jennica Silva.
The following matches were a dominant display of badminton for Guam, who barely let their opponent into double figures for the remainder of the morning.
Meanwhile on court three, Wallis and Futuna did not let the status of their top seeded opponents put them off as they refused to go down without a fight.
Julien Dauptain surprised Lucas Julliot to claim Wallis and Futuna’s first game, with an impressive bounce back in the second game (21-9) and maintaining the momentum to win a closer third and deciding end (21-17).
Moreover, multiple Pacific Games medalist Johanna Kou had to bring her level-headed experience to the court as her opponents Malia Takasi and Endrina Nau appeared to be closing in on the second game. However, it was the New Caledonian’s who eventually secured the win 21-19 to finalise a 4-1 victory over their neighboring French-speaking nation.
The close match between Guam and Wallis and Futuna was a highlight of the afternoon as the tense match was anyone’s for the taking.
Jeremy Daputain pulled out some impressive backhands from the deep rear court in the opening mixed game, but it was not enough to counter the attack of Sunardi and Jennica who won by a whisker 23-21 13-21 21-19.
Ultimately, the women’s doubles was the deciding factor for Wallis and Futuna. At first, it seemed to be in the bag as Malia and Endrina took the first game 21-9. However, the duo from Guam retaliated with a determined spirit in the second game to win 21-18. In the third and deciding end, both pairs laid it all out on the court until the last point. Endrina, who said that she is here to “inspire her own children to succeed“, found a second wind and together with Malia, triumphed 21-18 and locked in the tie for their nation.
It was a tough day for the home team, Northern Marianas, who had to take on both of the top two seeds on day one. In the afternoon, they took on New Caledonia. The mixed doubles national champions, Nathan Guerrero and Janelle Pangilinan, were first on court against New Caledonians Carl N’Guela and Johanna Kou.
Nathan and Janelle showed no signs of intimidation, pushing their more experienced opponents all the way until end, eventually losing out 21-18 in the first game. The New Caledonians returned in the second game and piled on the pressure to secure the win. It was a similar story in the women’s doubles too as the game between Johanna/Marine and Janelle/Jenine developed at the same pace.
Finally, Tahiti proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, becoming the only team not to drop a match throughout day one. Their afternoon clash against Solomon Islands was a convincing victory, with only one player from Solomon Islands, Norah Meke, able to reach double figures in her women’s singles match against Waianuhea Teheura.