AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have dominated the opening day of the 2014 Oceania Badminton Championships, with the two squads looking likely to play off for the teams championship final at the Ken Kay Badminton Stadium this afternoon.
More than 100 world-class competitors took to the newly resurfaced courts for yesterday’s qualifying rounds, but it was the two powerhouse teams who emerged on top of their respective pools after the first two rounds.
Australia began proceedings with a walkover against Kiribati before scoring a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Nauru in the second round, while New Zealand defeated both Tonga and Tahiti 5-0.
Australian team manager Lasse Bundgaard says the squad will not take the championships lightly, given the amount of ranking points available for both the Commonwealth Games and world championships.
Bundgaard praised the development of Ballarat’s Tara Pilven, who is part of the Australia’s competing squad. “It’s a fairly important tournament for the Australian team – there’s a bit to do with ranking points but more also to be able to say that we are the best team in the Oceania,” Bundgaard said.
“We are playing to be the best team – we’ve had that title for the last four years and we want it again.
“It’s probably the strongest national team we’ve had for many years.”
Today’s schedule will see one more qualifying round played in the morning, with the final scheduled for 5pm in the afternoon.
The individual championships will start tomorrow and run until Saturday.
Australia d Kiribati by walkover
Tahiti 5 d Nauru 0
Australia 5 d Nauru 0
Tahiti d Kiribati by walkover
Australia v Tahiti
Nauru d Kiribati by walkover
New Zealand 5 d Tonga 0
New Caledonia 5 d Tahiti 0
New Zealand 5 d Tahiti 0
New Caledonia 5 d Tonga 0
New Zealand v New Caledonia
Tahiti v Tonga