New Zealand’s Edward Lau, Abhinav Manota and Jack Wang can proudly add another international title to their names, with a successful run at the 2022 VICTOR Oceania Championships.
The Continental Championships, originally postponed from February, was held in Melbourne from the 28th April to 1st May, with players from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Tahiti in attendance.
After being a finalist in 2020, North Harbour’s Edward Lau was able to do one better in this year’s edition.
Edward’s path to the finals wasn’t all smooth sailing, being pushed to three games along the way from Tahiti’s Remi Rossi and fellow Kiwi Oscar Guo in the semi-finals. However, on Sunday morning Edward made light work of Australia’s Nathan Tang, claiming the Men’s Singles title in two straight games.
“I’m feeling very proud…I didn’t feel any pressure and made sure I was able to play my game. This is definitely a big confidence booster”,
Edward Lau  vs Nathan Tang (AUS) 21-18 21-10
Other notable mentions include semi final finishes from Oscar Guo and quarter-final appearances from Abhinav Manota and Ricky Cheng.
Reigning Men’s Doubles champion, Abhinav Manota entered this year’s Oceania Championships with a new partner in Auckland’s Jack Wang. Prior to heading to Australia, the new partnership made its debut at the NZ Tour’s Waikato Open, where the pairing had a gruelling match with fellow compatriots Adam Jeffrey and Dylan Soedjasa in the finals.
With players not being able to travel for tournaments due to the pandemic, players have not been able to gain any international points which resulted to an early rematch in the draw between Manota/Wang and Jeffrey/Soedjasa in the quarterfinals. With what could easily be the match of the tournament, this was the only time Manota and Wang were troubled to three games.
In the finals, Jack and Mani met Australia’s Kenneth Choo & Ming Chuen Lim, taking the first game comfortably. The Kiwis trailed throughout the second game, but a few crafty serves and long rallies forced the game into extension, with the New Zealanders claiming the title in two straight games.
“In the second game, they stepped it up so we had to have a rethink and make a couple of tweaks to our gameplan. But towards the end, it was just the key to serve better and concentrate on the first three shots and that’s how we go the game. Jack did pretty well towards the end with his serves when we were 18-20 down to bring it back. I’m over the moon, it’s such a good feeling.” Abhinav Manota
Abhinav Manota/Jack Wang  vs Kenneth Zhe Hooi Choo/Ming Chuen Lim (AUS) 21-14, 23-21
Other notable mentions include quarterfinals appearances from Dacmen Vong / Evan Wong, and Dylan Soedjasa/ Adam Jeffrey.
The last match of the day saw New Zealand’s leading mixed doubles pair, Anona Pak and Oliver Leydon-Davis take the reigning Oceania Mixed Doubles Champion Gronya Somerville from Australia with her new Partner Kenneth Choo, to a thrilling final that was pushed to three games.
Leydon-Davis and Pak looked solid and in control of the first game but Choo and Somerville snatched it away in the last few points of the game. After the break, Leydon-Davis/Pak fought well to take second game and push the Australians to a third game. This ultimately led to the Australians taking the title where Gronya Somerville remains as the Oceania Mixed Doubles Champion with Kenneth Choo.
Kenneth Choo / Gronya Somerville (AUS) v Oliver Leydon-Davis / Anona Pak (NZL) 21-18 19-21 21-12
Other notable mentions include quarter-final finishes from Jack Wang / Justine Villegas and Evan Wong / Camellia Zhou.
WOMEN'S SINGLES & WOMEN'S DOUBLES
Following the late withdrawal of a few players unfortunately due to covid, New Zealand had no representatives in the Women Singles, and only one pair in the Women’s Doubles.
The Auckland junior pairing of Camellia Zhou and Angelina Ung made their debut in the senior Oceania Championship, taking a win against Australians Yee-Yuan Lim and Isabella Yan, leading to a quarter-final appearances, before exiting to the first seed and eventual winners, Joyce Choong and Sylvina Kurniawan from Australia.
Pictures and quotes have been republished with thanks to Badminton Oceania.
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