OCEANIA CHAMPS 2015 Finals – 2 for Choo, all for Oz

While hosts New Zealand had 3 chances at 2015 Oceania Championship titles, they were locked out by neighbors Australia in each attempt as Leanne Choo led her team with two […]

While hosts New Zealand had 3 chances at 2015 Oceania Championship titles, they were locked out by neighbors Australia in each attempt as Leanne Choo led her team with two victories.

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent live in Auckland.  Photos: Kinnon Pang (live)

Each time New Zealand fell to the Aussies, in their next matches they came back fiercer than before.  The Aussies were, however, able to tame the feral Kiwis, even if the task got harder each subsequent round.

Double Crown Part 1

Doubles specialist Leanne Choo had to contend with Kiwi counterpart Oliver Leydon Davis as they both strived to take the opening mixed doubles match as the first part of their double crown.  Both of them had their trusty partners, Robin Middleton (pictured right) and Danielle Tahuri respectively, to cover their corners and angles.

The experienced Choo proved to be too much for the New Zealand pair to handle as she kept the pressure on and forced errors from them.  Combined with Middleton’s coverage and angled attacks saw the match over in 2 quick games.

Seesaw match of precision

For a match that was to be over in 2 games, these 2 games took an incredibly long time as both Joy Lai and Wendy Chen (pictured below) took their time placing their shots.  While Chen was the faster player, Lai kept up with her precise split step timing, anticipating the shots enough to be able to reach and return them in time.  With points exchanged over long rallies, a tiny lead saw Wendy Chen take the first game 21-18.

The see-saw match continued, but with quick footwork speed, Chen was able to hit 20 points first, but with Lai snapping at her heels, a bad shot and a mistake in defending saw Lai erase 2 match points to force the extra points.  Two more match points came and went before Wendy found a small burst of speed to pull a smash and quick cross net combo to finish the match at the fifth and final match point.

Double Crown Part 2

Playing 2 matches a day was nothing new for Leanne Choo as she steamrolled fellow Aussies Talia Saunders and Jennifer Tam with her partner Gronya Somerville (pictured top) by her side in the shortest match of the day.  With Somerville being a wall that returned every shot, often with almost double the speed, Leanne needed only cover the gaps in between.  Sealing the match took only patience and calculated strokes, and with it, the second part of the double crown, leaving Leanne grinning all the way to the podium.

Blue Lighting strikes

With New Zealand having already busted one chance, it was Luke Charlesworth’s turn to try sneak a match from the ever hungry Australians.  However, standing in his way was 4th seed, Daniel Guda.  Moving around the court like blue lighting, Guda blitzed his way through to step into a first game advantage, utilizing his speed and precise shots.  Charlesworth wasn’t one to be fazed by such play, as he bounced back with impressive speed of his own and his own reach to force a deciding game.

It all came down to the wire in the final game, with Guda’s speed pitted against Charlesworth’s long reach.  2 match points were saved by Charlesworth, but Guda’s speed saw the 3rd match point through, much to the disappointment of the crowd.

“I was pretty nervous playing against Luke,” Daniel Guda said after his match.  “He is a tall guy.  Playing against a tall guy, I have to make sure my shots can go over him and also have to be extra accurate as well.”

Third time is a charm…?

With Charlesworth’s defeat, New Zealand had just one chance left at a title in the form of men’s doubles top seeds Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and Oliver Leydon-Davis (pictured above).  “Third time is a charm” may be how the saying goes but Dennerly-Minturn and Leydon-Davis may have found themselves overly eager to prove it true in this case.  Their energy and enthusiasm saw them power through the first game, but as Matthew Chau and Sawan Serasinghe (pictured) got used to the pace, the momentum became even harder to maintain.

Gradually, Matthew and Sawan started turning the momentum into their favour by turning the drive rallies into attacking strikes.  The Kiwis were at a loss to reply, as they started to receive the smash and drives they generously struck earlier.  There were some golden moments to be had, when Sawan was forced to the floor on defense, with Matthew Chau subsequently diving for the unsuccessful retrieval of the next shot.  An unsuccessful cross net defense saw Australia take home the final title of the day.

Sparkling young stars

On the side, top seeds Lee Yen Khoo and Alice Wu were both double crown winners of the day, holding onto mixed doubles, girls’ singles and girls’ doubles.  New Zealand was left with boys’ singles and doubles, courtesy of Oscar Guo and Niccolo/Daxxon who each battled their compatriots for the top spot.

Final results
XD: Robin Middleton / Leanne Choo (AUS) [2] beat Oliver Leydon-Davis / Danielle Tahuri (NZL)   21-12, 21-14
WS: Wendy Chen (AUS) beat Joy Lai (AUS) [1] 21-18 24-22
WD: Leanne Choo / Gronya Somerville (AUS) [1] beat Talia Saunders / Jennifer Tam (AUS)  21-14, 21-11
MS: Daniel Guda (AUS) [4] beat Luke Charlesworth (NZL)  21-11, 15-21, 21-19
MD: Matthew Chau / Sawan Serasinghe (AUS) [2] beat Kevin James Dennerly-Minturn / Oliver Leydon-Davis (NZL) [1]   10-21, 21-16, 21-13

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