Badminton: National champs provide ideal preparation

he national badminton championships, starting tomorrow in Auckland, will provide ideal preparation for players ahead of the world Grand Prix New Zealand Open next month.

Men's top seed and defending champion TJ Weistra (Waikato) will be aiming to repeat his run through the tournament again as he uses all of his experience at the North Harbour Badminton Centre.

Weistra who is in his late 30s has been able to overcome younger opponents by using guile and experience rather than overpowering his rivals. There are a couple of players who may test Weistra along the way to the final such as Chance Cheng from Northland who was a former top junior in New Zealand as well as Waitakere's Luke Charlesworth.

The second seed in the 64-player draw is Samuel Ho (Auckland) who was a semifinalist last year.

The men's doubles is headed by the Auckland duo of Ho and Riga Oud with former New Zealand reps, Henry Tam and Delius Tang also from Auckland probably the main threat to the top seeds.

Lilian Shih is the women's top seed and the defending champion. The East Auckland teen will have some strong competition from the likes of Anona Pak from North Harbour along with teenagers Felicity Leydon-Davis (Waikato), who is also a Northern Districts cricket player, and Kaitlyn Mcleod from Auckland who recently represented New Zealand at the Australian Youth Olympics.

The women's doubles contains former Korean Olympic medallist Jihyun Marr teaming up with Angie Leung.

Marr has been based in New Zealand for a number of years and has been a popular addition to the badminton scene with her experience and her skills.

Second seeds in the women's doubles are the talented duo of Stephanie Cheng and Kylie Luo from Auckland.

There are a number of strong combinations in the 32-team mixed doubles draw which is headed by Weistra and fellow Waikato player Susannah Leydon-Davis.

Others to watch out for are Cheng and Marr as well as former Canterbury player Asher Richardson and Waikato's Madeleine Stapleton.

The second seeds are the North Harbour pair of Maika Phillips and Pak.

At the completion of the National Championships the Sudirman Cup team (world mixed teams event) to be played in Malaysia in May will be announced.

The Pub Charity Badminton New Zealand National Championships start tomorrow afternoon and finishes with finals from 10am on Sunday at the North Harbour Badminton Centre.


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