Foreign Players Set To Dominate National Champs

Tuesday 13 August 2013, 9:34PM

By dave worsley


Badminton’s national provincial teams championships get underway today in Waitakere in the prestigious Wisden and Slazenger Cup competitions. But for what is a New Zealand tournament there’s a very strong international flavor with at least seven different nationalities represented in the six teams in the premier Wisden Cup.

Waikato are aiming for a fourth triumph in a row in Wisden Cup and have recruited well with one of Australia’s best, Renuga Veeran joining a team which already includes former Commonwealth Games singles gold medalist from 2006 in Melbourne, Tracey Hallam who originates from Britain but now resides in the Waikato.

There’s also the Leydon-Davis family, Oliver and Susannah who are New Zealand reps and recently made it through a round at the world champs as well as younger sister Felicity in the team. The remaining female players, Amanda Brown and Madeleine Stapleton are both New Zealand team members. Former national coach, TJ Weistra as well as top local players Michael Fowke, Asher Richardson and James Paterson make up the team.

Waikato play Auckland 1 in the first round robin match this afternoon from 3pm with Waitakere playing Auckland 2 while North Harbour and Southland clash. All Wisden Cup matches start at 3pm each day through until the final round robin on Saturday.

Hosts Waitakere are strong with the inclusion of several current and former internationals with Joe Wu leading the men along with Geoff Bellingham, Dan Shirley, Chance Cheng and Luke Charlesworth. Their women’s side has former Korean Olympic medalist Ji Hyun and Australian rep Tara Pilven

North Harbour are very strong on their women’s side through a couple of Indonesian players plus the return of former Kiwi rep Jessica Jonggowisastro and top locals Vicky Copeland and Anona Pak

Southland have former local player James Eunson returning as well former international Dean Galt. Australia’s Vinning Mak also joins the team while Auckland have two teams in Wisden Cup. The No1 team features former internationals Li Feng originally from China and Donna Halliday.

In the Slazenger Cup the top seeded team looking for promotion to Wisden Cup is Wellington North which features strong junior players Elliott Pike and Alyse Derby. Canterbury are seeded second.