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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The Badminton Oceania, Oceania Mixed Team Championships begins at X-TRM North Harbour Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday 16 February, 2016, and features teams from six countries.
The three day competition comprises two stages with Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti and Tonga playing in a round robin format with the top two teams advancing to the next stage where Australia and New Zealand lie in wait.
The Guam team is a youthful mix and coached by David Yao. Michelle Kremper, twins Grace and Sarah Cai, Emily Yang. Sunardi Li and John Conducto round off the men's element of the squad.
Kremper can't wait for the action to begin. She said: "I'm really excited about playing. I don't know what level the other players will be at but I do know they're really good. I'm hoping to win at least one match."
Tonga is led by Lauti Naaniumotu, Metuisela Vainikolo, Lusia Ki Taulanga and Litea Lupe Moe Valu Tatafu. Naaniumotu doubles as Badminton Tonga's Development Officer and says he is excited by the prospect of the competition start tomorrow.
"We all feel a high motivation here and its good to watch the better players and listen to the coaches so we can learn from them.
"We want to do well in the Oceania Mixed Team Championship but we realise the level of the Australian and New Zealand players is high so we are trying to improve and be competitive," he said.
Tahiti and New Caledonia will renew their Francophone rivalry when they clash at 4pm NZST and Leo Cucuel is ready to set aside friendships when the action starts.
"The rivalry is on-court only, off-court the players are friends and in some cases we've known each other for six or seven years.
"But once you're on court there are no friendships, its intense competition.
"We compete every year in the Oceania championships and we've never beaten New Caledonia. Last time we came fourth behind New Caledonia and Fiji and then last time they beat us for third place.
"Hopefully, this time we can get a first bronze medal for Tahiti," Cucuel said.
Cucuel leads a French Polynesian contingent that comprises Michael Ajonc, Quentin Bernaix, Hugo Sautereau and Kyliam Scilloux. Aurelie and Coralie Bouttin are among four women in the team with Chloe and Pauline Segrestan completing the squad.
New Caledonia's squad contains Yohan De Geoffroy, Ronan Ho-Yagues, Thomas Lahaut, Loic Mennesson and Fabian Nadmimin. Soizick Ho-Yagues, Johanna Kou, Dgenyva Matauli and Cecilia Moussy make up New Caledonia's women's contingent.
The Australia and New Zealand squads are strong and justifies their inclusion in stage two.
New Zealand coach Peter Jensen said competition was going to be intense at Stage 1 and for the two teams who advance to the next round.
"It’s going to be difficult, for sure, but at the same time it’s also a great experience. For some it will be a totally new world that is opened up to see how players can be at a high level. But that can be true even for Australia and New Zealand, it’s a big step to the rest of the world," he said.
Stage 1 action begins at 10am tomorrow when New Caledonia take on Guam and Tonga face Tahiti at the X-TRM North Harbour Centre in Bond Crescent, Forrest Hill.
The Men's and Women’s Team events begin on Friday and Saturday and feature Men’s teams from Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Tahiti, and Women’s teams from Australia, Guam, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Tahiti.
Oceania Mixed Team Championship - Stage 1
Tuesday 16 February
10.00am New Caledonia v Guam
10.00am Tonga v Tahiti
4.00pm New Caledonia v Tahiti
4.00pm NZST Tonga v Guam
Oceania Mixed Team Championship - Stage 2
Wednesday 17 February
4.00pm NZST Australia v Stage 1 #2
4.00pm NZST New Zealand v Stage 1 #1
Thursday 18 February
10.00am NZST Australia v Stage 1 #1
10.00am NZST New Zealand v Stage 1 #2
4.00pm NZST Australia v New Zealand
4.00pm NZST Stage 1 #1 v Stage 1 #2
(Men): Matthew Chau, Michael Fariman, Anthony Joe, Robin Middleton, Sawan Serasinghe.
(Women): Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, Leanne Choo, Joy Lai, Gronya Somerville.
(Men): David Yao, Sunardi Li and John Conducto.
(Women): Michelle Kremper, Grace Cai, Sarah Cai, Emily Yang.
(Men): Kevin James Dennerly-Minturn, Oliver Leydon-Davis, Asher Richardson, Dylan Soedjasa, Niccolo Tagle.
(Women): Michelle Chan Ky, Vicki Copeland, Susannah Leydon-Davis, Anna Rankin, Danielle Tahuri, Deborah Yin.
(Men): Yohan De Geoffroy, Ronan Ho-Yagues, Thomas Lahaut, Loic Mennesson and Fabian Nadmimin.
(Women): Soizick Ho-Yagues, Johanna Kou, Dgenyva Matauli and Cecilia Moussy.
(Men): Leo Cucuel, Michael Ajonc, Quentin Bernaix, Hugo Sautereau, Kyliam Scilloux.
(Women): Aurelie Bouttin, Coralie Bouttin, Chloe Segrestan, Pauline Segrestan.
(Men): Lauti Naaniumotu, Metuisela Vainikolo.
(Women): Lusia Ki Taulanga, Litea Lupe Moe Valu Tatafu.
Oceania Men’s and Women’s Team Championships
19-21 February, 2016
Auckland, New Zealand
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