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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - New Caledonia sit top of the Oceania Mixed Team Championships after wins over Guam and arch-rivals Tahiti at the X-TRM North Harbour Centre in Auckland, New Zealand today.
While New Caledonia enjoyed a near perfect day, there were also historic first wins for Guam, Tahiti and Tonga as the jostle for the two available Stage 2 berths intensified.
Guam’s Grace Cai enjoyed a Women’s Singles victory over Lusia Ki Taulanga Faukafa in an enthralling three game spectacle, taking the match 21-10, 18-21, 21-16 as her team attempted to upset rapidly improving Tonga.
Tonga’s Lauti Naaniumotu and Litea Lupe Moe Valu Tatafu made a winning start in the Mixed Doubles but it was a tense affair as Grace Cai and David Yao took the tie to three games before eventually losing 21-19, 17-21, 21-16.
Metuisela Talakai Vainikolo recovered from an earlier Men’s Singles loss to Quentin Bernaix of Tahiti to overpower Sunard Li 21-13, 21-8 and in the Men’s Doubles Naaniumotu and Vainikolo turned in a performance of deftness and strength to defeat Li and Yao 21-12, 21-11.
With Tonga in command with a 3-1 lead headed into the Women’s Doubles, Guam looked out of contention until Michelle Kremper and Sarah Cai produced an eye-catching performance that backed Faukafa and Tatafu into a corner.
Victorious in the first game 21-19, Kremper and Cai exchanged the lead with their Tonga counterparts twice as the match swung to and fro until Faukafa and Tatafu claimed victory by three points in the second game. Faukafa and Tatafu held out to win the definitive third game 21-15 to complete a 4-1 win for Tonga and a first ever victory outside of their own country.
Leody Vainikolo of the Tonga National Badminton Association was delighted with the result and performance.
“The main purpose of the trip was development and I think today that’s what we saw. Last time we lost our games and so we’re very happy about the way we played today.
“We are looking forward to facing New Caledonia and that will be another big test for us,” she said, “We haven’t beaten them before but we’ve played with them a few times and know what they bring.”
Guam’s David Yeo was pleased with aspects of his team’s performance but none more so than with Gracie Cai who registered a notable win.
“We’re counting on the girls to switch it up a bit and Gracie did very well. We looked to change the line-up a little bit to take the pressure off the guys and it worked pretty well.
“Three of our matches went to three games and we’re very happy with that. We’ve identified some key points that we need to work on so we’ll focus on our training,” he said.
In the clash of the day, New Caledonia and Tahiti produced a thrilling match that went to the wire. A Mixed Doubles win for New Caledonia’s Johanna Kou and Loic Mennesson over Kyliam Scilloux and Chloe Segrestan 21-13, 21-12, took just two games and set the scene for an absorbing tie.
The pendulum swung back Tahiti’s way in the Men’s Singles when Quentin Bernaix and Thomas Lahaut thrashed out an exciting tie that also went to three games. Bernaix edged Lahaut 21-19 in game one before the New Caledonian bounced back with a 21-11 win in the second.
The third game saw the lead change hands several times before Bernaix finally prevailed by just four points.
In the Women’s Singles Cecilia Moussy accounted for Aurelie Bouttin easily 21-8 in the first of three games until Bouttin flicked a switch to take out the second by three points. Moussy regained her composure to win the third 21-13.
Tahiti’s moment of history came when Leo Cucuel and Hugo Sautereau defeated Lahaut and Mennesson 21-17, 21-16. The Cucuel-Sautereau combination was exciting to behold with Cucuel a calm influence on Sautereau’s all-action style.
With the tie poised 2-2, New Caledonia started the Women’s Doubles with the experienced partnership of Kou and Moussy and they made tidy work of Bouttin and Pauline Segrestan 21-14, 21-14, to wrap up a 3-2 win for New Caledonia.
Moussy said the pressure to win the match was immense after watching Cucuel and Sautereau down Lahaut and Mennesson.
“We’re very excited, it was very good to win and the games were close but we’re very happy and satisfied with our performance,” Moussy said, “We are confident because we all played well so we are ready for tomorrow.”
Kou, who shone with a series of excellent drop shots around the net, was also happy.
“It depends on what happens in the match as to what I can do and also who you are playing against,” she said, “There was big pressure but we did well.”
“It was our first win in a game over New Caledonia who are very tough opposition but the main thing was our mentality. Once we were up in the score we made it hard for them to come back.
“Hugo was really motivated that is his character, he is onto it, he has a strong smash and when he’s in that form he’s tough to play.
“Aurelie is really motivated, really strong mentality, she was down in her first game and came back strong to win the second and that says a lot about her,” Cucuel said.
The action tomorrow at the X-TRM North Harbour Centre starts when New Caledonia meets Tonga and Tahiti faces Guam at 10.00am NZST.
Stage 2 commences when competition heavyweights New Zealand and Australia take the court at 4.00pm NZST when they face the first placed and runner-up from Stage 1, respectively.
DAY OF HISTORY
First win for Guam at the Oceania Mixed Team Championships (Grace Cai v Lusia Faukafa 21-10, 18-21, 21-16)
First win for Tonga at the Oceania Mixed Team Championships (Tonga 4-1 Guam)
First win for Tahiti over New Caledonia (Men’s Doubles Cucuel-Sautereau 21-17, 21-16)
First win for Tahiti over New Caledonia (Men’s Singles Quentin Bernaix 21-19, 11-21, 21-17)
Oceania Mixed Team Championship - Stage 1
Oceania Mixed Team Championship - Stage 1
Wednesday 17 February, 2016
10.00am NZST New Caledonia v Tonga
10.00am NZST Tahiti 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