NEW ZEALAND INT’L 2014 – A Chinese Taipei Whitewash

While the Asian Games were on full blast in Korea, in the bottom half of the world, yet another tournament went on to trial the new 11–point scoring system. By […]

While the Asian Games were on full blast in Korea, in the bottom half of the world, yet another tournament went on to trial the new 11point scoring system.

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent live in Auckland.  Photos: Adrianna Yiu (live)

Malaysia and Chinese Taipei formed the bulk of the international contingent at the Fernbaby Auckland International Series, alongside some lone representatives from England, Indonesia, Korea, and Netherlands.  Chinese Taipei stole the show, with their players dominating all 5 finals.

With the New Zealand International being one of the first tournaments to trial the new scoring system, many different strategies and playing styles were tested in hopes of attaining victory

Mixed doubles started off the day with double finalist Ruud Bosch and his partner Shuai Pei Ling facing off against a double Lee CH: Lee Chia Han and Lee Chia Hsin (pictured).  En-route to the finals, Ruud and Pei Ling faced increasingly harder matches, starting off with a 3-game victory over New Zealand pair Thomas and Hayley, increasing to a 4 game match over Matthew Chau and Mapasa Setyana, who overcame top seeds siblings Oliver and Susannah Leydon Davis in yet another 4-game match, finally culminating in a comeback 5-game victory over 3rd seeds Lin Shang Kai and Tsai Hsin Yu in the semifinals.

Chia Han and Chia Hsin had a much easier route to the finals, needing only 3 games to defeat each of their opponents on the way, with the only exception being compatriots Tien Tzu Chieh and Hu Ling Fang, who stretched the distance to 5 games.  The ease with which they dispatched their opponents carried into the finals, where their shots landed precisely in between the gaps, leaving Ruud and Pei Ling in the dust as they rocketed to a 3 game finish.

Women’s Doubles Oceania’s hopes crushed

Leanne Choo and Gronya Somerville (pictured) became the sole Oceania representatives in the finals after defeating 3rd seed Hu Ling Fang and Shuai Pei Ling en route, facing off against their next seeded opponents, top seeds Chang Ching Hui and Chang Hsin Tien.  While Leanne and Gronya attacked and pushed to take the 1st game with an 8 point streak, they were unable to continue their streak of luck, as Ching Hui and Hsin Tien upped their consistency and mixed the pace to offset the Australians.  Even with Leanne smashing furiously, the Chinese Taipei pair seemed to effortlessly return each shot, able to turn the flow of attack to their side.

Singles – Battle of the seeds

For both singles, it was a battle between seeded players eager to prove their rankings.  With the withdrawal of 2nd seed Yogendran Krishnan, it was up to 1st seed Lu Chia Hung (pictured), to prove his right to his seeding.  En route to the finals, Chia Hung had to face off a tenacious Tan Vi Hen of Malaysia, whose attacking style kept Chia Hung on the defensive.  Chia Hung was forced to keep his patience and cool until the final game where he could finally outmanoeuvre an exhausted Vi Hen.

Facing Cheng Kuo Po was a straightforward affair, with Chia Hung keeping a high pace and locking down Kuo Po’s attacking options.  With Kuo Po forced on the defensive and struggling to keep pace, it seemed like almost every shot he returned was an opportunity for an attack.  Chia Hung steadily heaped on the pressure to wrap the match quickly in 3 short games.

Meanwhile on the ladies’ side it was 2 top seeds fighting for the top spot.  Chiang Mei Hui may have had a slight advantage from playing in another tournament just recently in New Zealand, but it was the more spirited Lee Chia Hsin who fought for the last bit of the game.  Both ladies had smooth sailing to the finals, none being stretched to a fifth game, with Mei Hui never dropping a game till the finals.  Lee Chia Hsin, seemingly motivated by her mixed title, capitalized on mistakes and constant retrieval to erase a 1 game disadvantage and turn it into a 2-1 lead.  Mei Hui forced a 5th game with 2 cross court drops, however was unable to maintain her faltering consistency, leaving Chia Hsin as one of the few players with a double title under the new scoring system.

Battle of underdogs

Both sides strode into the men’s doubles finals having unseated Oceania’s finest pairs along the way.  Top seed Kevin Dennerly Minturn / Oliver Leydon Davis and 2nd seeded Matthew Chau / Sawan Serasinghe both fell, to Chinese Taipei pair Po Li Wei / Yang Ming Tse and Ruud Bosch / Tien Tzu Chieh (pictured) respectively.  A tired Bosch, who had earlier experienced the bitter taste of defeat, was not willing to do so again, even turning to diving acrobatics to return the shuttle.  However, his tiredness made him a prime target for Li Wei and Ming Tse, who targeted him at every opportunity.  A favoured tactic was to put Tzu Chieh out of position, force Bosch to extend his coverage, then hit at the gaps or target a single person for a smash barrage.

Bosch said of his matches under the new scoring system: “Gameplay is totally different.  One cannot make a mistake because if we make a mistake, we are already behind.  One mistake is fine but by 2nd mistake, we must change strategy.”

On the other hand, a beaming Chinese Taipei coach praised his players for having managed to adapt to the new scoring system: “If the scoring system is changed, then of course we have to change our training.  Our players had practised under the new scoring system so they managed to perform well.”

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