The Over 30 events saw some newcomers to the table this year, but it proved to be the steady old timer in the mens who saw it out, do or Dye style. Top seed for the 30s event was Canterbury's Yi-Sien Lin, the hot favourite with his all out attacking on both wings and inspiring backhand looping and punching.
The group stages in the mens were a complete shambles, seedings upset in groups left, right and centre. Hoa Ngo emerged 2nd in his group after a 3-0 win over William Weinstock, Rong Chen upset Xiaojian Sha to go through first in his group, Craig Dye won his group after beating Zhang Nan 3-0 and Bozidar Zutic surprised his group's Chinese top seed with a 3-2 win.
|Yi-Sien Lin top seed, ousted in O30 semifinals|
Image courtesy of Murray Finch
Being the 30s event ironically 3-0 was the number on everyone's minds. Xiaojian Sha and Xue Feng emerged through to the quarterfinals by that exact margin, straight sets over Boz Zutic and Hoa Ngo respectively. It didn't stop there, all of the quarterfinal matches were also won 3-0 with Yi-Sien Lin beating Zhang Nan, Xiaojian Sha beating Zhang Lin, Craig Dye toppling Xue Feng and Rong Chen taking out Tomasz Koscik.
Craig Dye continued the trend with a 3-0 win over Rong Chen to book his place in the final. The other side of the draw proved to be the truly entertaining battle in the semifinals.
Yi-Sien Lin held a 2-0 lead early on, some lucky saves coupled with great short play and superb opening and follow-up shots allowed him to capture those sets 11-9 and 12-10. The match heated up and continued to be ridiculously close, in fact the next 3 sets were won also 11-9, 12-10 and 11-9. They were won by Xiaojian Sha as he held on and fought back. The points towards the end of each set were crucial to the match and the Chinese opponent played some spectacular shots. Despite Yi-Sien's best efforts the match just pulled away from him and he bowed out of his over 30s debut in the semifinals.
The event was far from over however. Xiaojian Sha went head to head with Craig Dye. Do or Dye was the motto, Craig played amazingly. Committing to a fine balance of high risk and finesse, it was Dye who assumed control in the match, causing issues for his opponent with his long pips, while also combining that with devastating attacking shots, even flipping his bat to move in for winning backhand loops. Leading the game 2-0 we waited to see if the same fate would come to Craig Dye as had to Yi-Sien. For a moment it looked like the match could head that way, with Sha taking a set 11-4, but Craig held steady and played even harder in the final set to win it 11-6. 3-1 the final result and the Over 30s Gold Medal and title for Craig Dye! Congratulations Craig!
|Catherine Zhou wins the Over 30 Women's Singles|
Image courtesy of Murray Finch
The Over 30 women's event comprised of just 3 players, a tight knit group of Catherine Zhou, Kadia Keller-Rice and Gina Liu. It was Catherine who led out early winning her first match 3-1 over Gina Liu with some nervous moments in the beginning and the end of the match, but overall Cath looked confident as ever. The second match saw Gina Liu claim a 4 set win over Keller-Rice to level the playing field and see an all important 3rd match to define the results.
Catherine went out without looking back and played decisively and with confidence, sticking to her fast attacking strokes which are best known for finishing points for her. She took the match against Kadia in straight sets and took the gold medal in the over 30 women's singles in her first appearance in the event at the NZ Open. Congrats Cath!
The mixed doubles went down to the wire with Julian Wootton and Kadia Keller-Rice narrowly missing out 11-9 in the 5th to a determined Stephen Hirst and Catherine Zhou while in the men's doubles it was Rong Chen and Tomasz Koscik who took the crown for the event. Well done guys!