Friday 14 October 2011

Seeds Overturned for Sweeter Victories

Thom Nguyen half of the Gold Medal Combination
Photo by Jason Poon
It was a great day of table tennis today in Palmerston North, especially for Wellington coach Stephen Hirst who was overwhelmed when a gold medal opportunity game Wellington's way. An incredible feat of team work and great skill shown by the combination of Thom Nguyen and Hayden Tapp who defied all odds to win gold in the Open Mens Doubles. Dispatching 3-0 the Waikato pair of James Harter and Matt Hetherington they quickly moved on to immobilise the highly skilled Canterbury team of Yi-Sien Lin and Simon Wallace. While heads turned to Auckland's Aaron Gong and Takaomi Shimokawa putting up a great fight to eliminate the illustrious Tony Liu and doubles partner Zhiyang Cheng also of Auckland, it was Tapp and Nguyen working quietly in the background to defeat the strong pairing of Josh Alexandre and Phillip Xiao, setting themselves up with a guaranteed medal. Tapp and Nguyen were able to battle it out with Gong and Shimokawa in a well fought final where the Wellington pair settled a year of hard work and earned some piece of mind with a National Title and Gold Medal, coach Stephen Hirst and the other Wellington team members were ecstatic, it was a great effort, congratulations to them both and to finalists and silver medalists Aaron Gong and Taka Shimokawa for a great final performance. 

Gold Medalist Mark Page in the B Grade Mens
Runner Up Craig Dye
Bronze Medalists Matt Ball, James Harter
Photo by Jason Poon
In the B Grade Mens Singles it was a show of force on the bottom half of the draw from which sprung Mark Page from Waikato. After the group stages the draw was set, although Matt Ball had been upset in his group by Shinji Izuka from North Harbour he still pressed onwards in the draw. Avenging Ball, Matt Hetherington lead a 3-0 victory over Izuka in the round of 16. Team mates, Aaron Page, James Harter, Mark Page and Simon Hoey-Burns joined him on the bottom half of the draw and after the quarter finals where Mark Page pushed aside Hetherington and Harter dealt to Simon Hoey-Burns and Aaron Page, it was guaranteed to be a Waikato player in the final as Mark Page stung Harter with a 3-0 win in the Semi-Final. Meanwhile top seed Craig Dye had left Manawatu for dirt as he defeated both Jerry Zhang in the quarterfinals and Matthew Ball in the semi finals, bringing the 2nd seeds hopes to an end. That left Dye to face the talented and rising force of Mark Page. Page with a solid record at Manawatu in 2011, having won 100% of his matches at the Manawatu hosted North Island Team Championships and also having won the Under 21 and Open Mens Singles Events at the Manawatu Open was looking comfortable with the conditions. Craig Dye took off to a flyer with Page struggling to adjust to the high variation in Dye's game. It was quickly 2-0 to Dye. Page changed the pace and started hitting some big shorts and we saw him claw back a set, and then another set. Driving into the 5th set there was huge pressure and some huge point displays to match with set pieces and massive 3rd and 4th ball attacking plays. Dye looked in control, winning the first 3 points, but Page soared back to switch ends 5-4 up. The final set continued locked, point for point. At the end Dye played an amazing set piece with a fast serve and a devastating 3rd ball forehand attack, Page seemed to have no answer. He found one quickly and sealed the deal, claiming the gold medal for the B Grade Mens Singles. Congratulations Mark on a well played event!

In the B Grade Women's Singles the semi final brought Lisa Yue face to face with Natalie Paterson who stole a quick 3-0 victory, while Waikato's two top women battled for a finals place. Armindeep Singh beat teammate Jessica MacAskill 3-1 and progressed to the final to pitch her strength against Paterson. It was not to be and Paterson's local reputation held as she won the B Grade Women's Singles title with a 3-1 win over Singh. Well done Natalie.

Gold Medalist Daniel Lowe in the C Grade Mens
Runner Up Bryn Lindsay
Bronze Medalists Liam Young, John Lea
Photo by Jason Poon
It was a determined Daniel Lowe who staved off competitors and flipped the seeds over to take the C Grade Mens Singles title. The two big seed names Miko Kirschbaum and Ebehard Kleiser were both dismissed early in the round of 16 by John Lea and Rodney Bygrave respectively. Daniel made a great effort in winning an entertaining match with John Lea in the semi final and then proceeding to defeat Bryn Lindsay in the final. Bryn was the silver medalist and Liam Young and John Lea were bronze medalists. The final score was 3-0 to Daniel against Bryn. In the C Grade Womens Singles, Manawatu's Tessy Fautsch came out on top of Gemma Buzzard in the final with Emily Kan and Sue Shirriffs falling on the way in their path. 

The Men's D Grade saw local junior Dean Lochhead score a gold medal as he combatted a determined Matthew Solt who had some outstanding results over the event to make the final. Overcoming Wellington's Delano Lam and Max Rogers in the semi final, he was brought down in the final by Lochhead who had taken out top seed Hamish Rennie. Congratulations to all medalists in the event. Kelsey Amor and Max Rogers both from Waitemata won bronze medals in the event.

The Open Mixed Doubles claimed no surprises with Jenny Hung and Tony Liu, the top seeds, dominating the field all the way to a 3-1 victory over Auckland's Josh Alexandre and Feng Jie. They also eliminated the locals Tim Seaholme and Natalie Paterson and Wellington's Catherine Zhou and Stephen Hirst, while Alexandre and Feng defeated Sabine Westenra and Heath Murdoch and Malcolm Darroch and Sue Shirriffs to make the final. Well Done Tony and Jenny. 

The Women's Doubles draw was strong with Vicky Yang and Feng Jie steaming the competition. They claimed wins over Armindeep Singh and Jessica Macaskill and Jenny Hung and Natalie Paterson to win the event. Paterson and Hung had beaten Sabine Westenra and Cath Zhou to make the finals. Congratulations to the Auckland girls for winning the Open Women's Doubles.

A big congratulations to all of the days medalists, great matches from all and with the Open Singles draw starting tomorrow, the promise of some of the best matches we expect to see so far in the tournament and of course some more videos. Highlights of Mark Page vs. Craig Dye B Grade Mens Final will be available at a later date also. See you all again tomorrow!

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