Tuesday 8 October 2013

Doubles Events Top off Fantastic Tournament

The Doubles Events provided some incredible entertainment, firstly in the form of Oh Sang Eun who competed in the Open Men's Doubles with Phillip Xiao and the Open Mixed Doubles with Angel Huang. There were plenty of surprises though and the first came in the form of the overseas arrivals. Jesper Villadsen and Mirek Janča represented Otago and made a strong show of force in the doubles. The combination from Denmark and the Czech Republic started by upstaging Dean Shu and Roger Wang and quickly moved through to dispose John Cordue and Myles Collins. In the semifinal stage they met 2nd seeds Tony Liu and Kevin Wu and reversed their team result to win 3-2 and advance to the finals stage.

Oh Sang Eun and Phillip Xiao
Image Courtesy of Murray Finch
Oh Sang Eun and Phillip Xiao never looked troubled and I know exactly why. With Phillip's tight play and swift opening attacks and Oh Sang Eun's freakish sense of misdirection and control you could never really get a grasp of where the ball might be going. They not only won the men's doubles event, they didn't drop a set, not even in the final. They eliminated myself and Yang Lun Zhao with ease (video to come), Malcolm Darroch and Lyndon White, even the experienced pair of Yi-Sien Lin and Stephen Hirst couldn't claim a set. In the final it was a display of pure dominance all over again as Oh Sang Eun and Phillip took the title. Despite some great attacking moments from the Otago pair it never looked like it was going their way and after the first 2 sets dropped 11-3 it was clear that the top seeds were going to be victorious.

In the women's doubles Jung Mi Kim and Vicky Yang headed the seedings with Timea Tapai and Cath Zhou in hot pursuit. Sophie Shu and Natalie Paterson started off their campaign with a win over Mariam Seif and Mimi Walle but were stopped dead in their tracks by the Auckland based top seeds who won in straight sets in their semifinal encounter. Kadia Keller-Rice and Sara Hu took 4 sets to advance to the semifinals over the Waikato pair of Armindeep Singh and Jessica Macaskill but again were prevented from going any further by the very skillful and interesting combination of Timea and Cath. 

Cath Zhou and Timea Tapai win Gold
Image Courtesy of Murray Finch
Into the finals and it was defenders combined with attackers, Cath Zhou standing out as the sole left hander and pengrip player and with pips on her forehand and it proved to be a difference which stood out. The combination worked well, Vicky Yang struggling with the heavy chop of Timi while Cath hit some stunning forehand smashes. For the second seeds it was a display of sheer force and finesse combined and the top seeds seemed to have no definitive answer. For Cath and Timi it was their first time playing together and they were awarded with a gold medal after a straight sets win. No doubt we will see these two great players combining again and not only showing off their skill but a fantastic dress sense out on the table, didn't they look presentable!

In the mixed doubles event it could have been anyone's win, the defending champions Timea and Yi-Sien Lin entered the draw as second seeds behind Korean ex-pat's Jung Mi Kim and Jong Eub Han a doubles pairing not to be taken lightly. Otago Open champions Cath Zhou and Ben Duffy were the first to fall to the veteran pair in 3 sets as they took control of the top half of the draw. The true wild cards in the event were Kadia Keller-Rice and Mirek Janča who came seemingly out of nowhere to upset Vicky Yang and Aaron Gong 11-9 in the 5th set after trailing 2-1. They met the defending champions who had won in 4 sets over Sophie Shu and Matt Hetherington in the quarterfinals and the match which ensued was particularly exciting. Another 5 set thriller for Kadia and Mirek but this time not the same result. Through the immense pressure on the defending champions they managed to escape narrowly, having led 2-0 and facing the daunting situation of a 2 set catchup by their opponents. In the final moments of the 5th set they just managed to pull together in the final 2 points after a huge moment of pressure at 9-9.

Three Gold's for Timea Tapai, the Open Hat Trick
Image Courtesy of Murray Finch

That may just have been the preparation they needed for the finals, they continue to battle hard against Jung Mi and Jong Eub Han in the final and took the match with relative comfort and by relative comfort 11-3, 11-6, 11-2. Perhaps a result that was far from expected, the Canterbury pair who won the mixed doubles in Auckland one year ago were again crowned Mixed Doubles Champions of NZ with a display of teamwork and skill which left their opponents far behind and dazzled spectators in the sheer dominance of the win, much like the women's doubles final the second seeds had risen to the occasion without hesitation.

A special congratulations to Timea Tapai who achieved the hat trick in the Open Events, winning the Open Women's Singles, Open Women's Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles. Joining her with 3 gold medals was Lucy Lu who repeated the effort in the Under 21 Events and of course Oh Sang Eun took away 2 gold medals in the Men's Singles and Doubles and a Bronze in the Mixed. Well done to all competitors for great displays of teamwork!

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