28 Feb 2010

New Zealander's struggle at Oceania Badminton Champs

6:54 am on 28 February 2010

The New Zealand team could manage just one title out of five in the finals of the Oceania Badminton Championships at Stadium Southland with their more experienced Australian counterparts showing that big time play counts for much against the locals who struggle for funding and for even a national coach.

The one title to go the home players way was in the men's singles as Joe Wu from Waikato defeated Invercargill's James Eunson in a battle of the top seed defeating the second seed 21-16 21-13.

But that was it for the New Zealanders as former Taiwanese Olympian, now Australian coach, Chia Chi Huang won the women's singles over fellow Australian Erica Pong.

Ross Smith and Glenn Warfe took away the men's doubles 21-19 21-12 over Oliver Leydon-Davis (Waikato) and Henry Tam (Auckland) and Warfe then teamed up with Kate Wilson Smith to beat Tam and Donna Haliday, also in straight games.

The women's doubles was an all-Australian affair as Leanne Choo and Wilson-Smith accounted for second seed Leisha Cooper and Ann-Louise Slee 22-20 21-11.

Meanwhile it was a real trans-Tasman battle in the finals of the Oceania Junior championships as New Zealand won two out of the five titles and came close in the singles contests, with both the men's and the women's finals going to three games.

Fourth seed Asher Richardson from Canterbury lost to top seed Boris Ma from Australia 21-18 in the final game while Auckland's Victoria Cheng, the tournament second seed lost to the Number one seed Tara Pilven (Australia) 12-21 21-12 21-14.

The New Zealander's took out the mixed in straight games with Waitakere pair Luke Charlesworth and Mary O'Connor combining to defeat third seeds Ashwant Gobinathan and Louisa Ma.

The women's doubles was an all-New Zealand affair as O'Connor and Madeleine Stapleton accounted for the North Harbour sisters Anona and Aviva Pak in straight games, while the men's doubles had top seeds Gobinathan and Ma beat second seeds William Chen and Asher Richardson in straight games.

As a result of making the singles finals Richardson and Cheng have qualified for the first Summer Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore in August.