Trans-Tasman rivalry comes to head when New Zealand and Australia battle for badminton’s Whyte Trophy this Wednesday at the North Harbour Badminton Centre and again later in the week at the Auckland Badminton International.
First played for in 1938 the Whyte Trophy has seen some classic contests in what is a bi-yearly competition and is always closely fought. This year it will feature a men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and one mixed doubles. The last time the sides met was in 2011 in Ballarat where Australia won the one-off contest 4-1 . Prior to 2011 New Zealand had dominated the competition for 14 years
Currently Australia leads 18 wins to 17in head-to-head contests.
Following the next day from Whyte Trophy is the Auckland Badminton International sponsored by Fernbaby at Gillies Ave, Thursday 20 - Sunday 23 June.
The tournament will have all of the New Zealand and Australian players plus a number from other nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, England, Vietnam, United States, Philippines and the Pacific Islands.
In 2012 New Zealand players put in good performances at the tournament with Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and Oliver Leydon-Davis winning the men’s doubles while Amanda Brown and Kritteka Gregory were women’s doubles finalists. The Kiwi pairs are top seeds in their respective draws although the women’s doubles is expected to be particularly close with former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tracey Hallam teaming with Australian national rep, Renuga Veeran.
Other top teams include Australians, Jacqueline Guan and Gronya Sommerville as second seeds along with a Vietnamese combination as well as an Indonesian pair.
Kiwi No1 Joe Wu is the men’s singles top seed, however he will most likely come up against a relative unknown Malaysian player in the second round. Two other regular visitor from Malaysia, Yogendran Khrishan and Wei Jian Ai are also expected to be challengers for the title.
Southland’s Anna Rankin heads the women’s singles, however she has Australia’s Tara Pilven and Brit, Hallam in her half of the draw. New Zealand national singles champion Vicki Copeland (North Harbour) and Auckland’s Lilian Shih are two other home players of note in the women’s singles.
The mixed doubles draw is headed by the Waikato brother and sister pair of Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis, but there is plenty of competition from Australian combinations as well as well as Kiwi teams.
With Leydon-Davis and Dennerly-Minturn aiming to defend their doubles title one new pair which could be of interest is the Australian player Ross Smith teaming with former top British junior Robin Middleton who is hoping to represent Australia in the future.
Rounding out the top four seeds are Ross Smith and Renuga Veeran from Australia along with Raymond Tam and Gronya Sommerville as well as Kiwis Dennerly-Minturn and Gregory.
The Whyte Trophy New Zealand versus Australia mixed teams event is being held Wednesday 19 June at North Harbour Badminton Centre, from 5.30pm while the Fernbaby Auckland International
commences Thursday 20 June from 4pm with the finals Sunday 23 June from 11am.
Whyte Trophy teams:
New Zealand: Joe Wu(Northland), Oliver Leydon-Davis(Waikato), Kevin Dennerly-Minturn(Auckland), Anna Rankin(Southland), Amanda Brown(Waikato), Kritteka Gregory(Waikatere), Susannah Leydon-Davis(Waikato)
Australia: Ashwant Gobinathan, Ross Smith, Raymond Tam, Glenn Warfe, Joy Lai, Tara Pilven, Renuga Veeran, Gronya Sommerville.