By: Scott Houston, Ian Marshall
Rarotonga’s very own, Louisa Manico was the star of the show on Wednesday 30th September 2009 in the table tennis events at the Mini Pacific Games in the Cook Islands principal town.
She booked a quarter-final place in the Women’s Singles event following victory in the second round over Fiji’s Julia Koi.
The right handed Manico, a natural sports woman who is very fleet of foot, finished the match in the fast lane.
After claiming the first game she found immediate trouble and was very soon two games to one in arrears; from that point on she never relinquished the pressure.
She won the next three games to come out a four-two winner and is thus the only Cook Islander to reach the quarter finals.
According to Seeding
The other second round matches went according to seeding; however there was one match that may have been somewhat of a surprise. Fourth seeded Ornella Bouteille from New Caledonia was up against fifth seed Shriti Jeet from Fiji.
Jeet had suffered a defeat in the group stage and therefore finished second in her group, thus losing her seeded position in the main draw. On paper this should have been a close encounter, however the cool and calm Bouteille never looked like being anything but a winner as she cruised into the quarter finals with a flawless display 11-6, 11-2, 11-6, 11-3.
The quarter finals on Thursday 1st October 2009 will see Vanuatu’s Priscila Tommy confront Fiji’s Carolyn Xuan Li, Liopa Santhy of Vanuatu face Ornella Bouteille, Tuarikirau Thunot of Tahiti-Nui oppose Atea Tetabo from Kiribati and Louisa Manico draw swords with second seeded Anolyn Lulu from Vanuatu.
The men’s singles saw some nail biting affairs take place; however there was one match in particular where the result was crystal clear.
Top seeded Wang Qi from Fiji took on Fabien Lai Van from New Caledonia. Wang Qi is 56 years old, Lai Van is 14 years old; therefore Qi was eligible to compete in senior competitions before Lai Van was even born!
In this duel Wang Qi was as always stout in defence and he was able to add fast attacks with his long pimpled rubber. The result was 11-3, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 in favour of the Fijian maestro. Surely Lai Van will be having nightmares this evening as he was given a lesson in ball control and tactical nous. However given that he will line up in two weeks time in Tokyo for Team Oceania at the International Cadet Challenge, he will be better off for the experience.
Twists & Turns
Two other matches that were full of twists and turns went the full distance.
Unseeded Ham Lulu from Vanuatu was drawn against the young star from New Caledonia Stéphane Gilabert. Lulu is a dangerous player, when he winds up for his forehand topspin it is with power that is shades of Tiger Woods teeing off at Augusta. When he is on song he is entertaining to watch and must be daunting for his opponents to face.
He raced to a three-nil advantage after winning all the big points. However, Gilabert is a fine talent and his technical level enables him to always have a chance regardless of the score line. Within the space of 15 minutes he had drawn level at three games all. Lulu would have surely been feeling the pressure at this stage, however if he was he did not let it show as he held his nerve in the seventh and deciding game to win 11-6 and book his quarter final place.
There was one other match that followed the same pattern as the Lulu versus Gilabert thriller.
Youngster Kenji Morin from Tahiti-Nui quickly found himself with a three-zero lead against eighth seeded Julian Barnard from the Cook Islands. Like Gilabert had done on the court next to him, Barnard was able to claw back to level the match at three games apiece. The final game was point for point all the way with no player being able to gain the ascendency. The game was locked at 9-9 before Morin called a timeout. It certainly worked as he won the next two points to lock in a quarter final place at just 15 years old, a fine performance indeed.
All of the remaining matches went according to seeding.
Seeking Semi-Final Places
The quarter finals on Thursday 1st October 2009 will see Wang Qi take on Kenji Morin, Ham Lulu tackle Ocean Belrose from Tahiti-Nui, third seeded Yoshua Shing of Vanuatu against Tinihai-O-Klouman from Tahiti-Nui, and second seeded Richel Sen of Fiji will fight for a semi-final place against Jeremy Dey of New Caledonia.
Wang Qi (left) gave Fabien Lai Van (right) a severe lesson in the second round of the Men’s Singles event
Last Modified on 04/10/2009 09:40