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Older Player Determined To Take Out National Title

Thursday 15 March 2012, 3:28PM

By Badminton New Zealand

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AUCKLAND

The 2012 New Zealand badminton national championships start tomorrow (Friday) in Auckland with one player determined to show that age is no barrier to winning.

Last year TJ Weistra became the first Kiwi to claim a BWF(Badminton World Federation) title when he won the over 35 years world championships in Canada. While he won the world title, he was a beaten finalist in the New Zealand national championships, where he defeated a number of players in their 20’s and younger. In the final he was beaten in three games by Dan Shirley.

This time he is even more determined than ever to win the New Zealand title, but isn’t going to have things all his own way.

“It’s a really difficult draw, I could have Joe(Wu) in the quarters in the morning and maybe James(Eunson) in the evening on Saturday. I’m fitter and lighter than last year, but I’m going to have to rely on my courtcraft to help out against these younger guys, “ says the 36-year-old Dutch-born player who is a high performance co-ordinator out of the Waikato region.

“In many ways I shouldn’t be making finals of tournaments like this, so I think that as a coach I’m almost hoping that the guys will beat me, but I’m not going to roll over for them,” says Weistra who has been practising hard over the past few weeks for the title.

Weistra  faces Ben Hillier from Auckland in his first match and then looks set to take on former Canterbury player, now representing Northland, Joe Wu in the quarters, who Weistra used to coach in the national squad. The top seed for the tournament which runs from Friday afternoon until the finals from 11am on Sunday (18 March) at the Auckland Badminton Stadium is James Eunson from Southland. Eunson was a member of the New Zealand Thomas Cup men’s team which recently upset Australia to gain a place in the world finals, which is the elite top 12 nations to be held in China in May.

Second seed is another Thomas Cup representative in the form of Waitakere’s Luke Charlesworth. Also seeded is Auckland’s Ashraf Dhoray and former Canterbury player Asher Richardson who is studying at Waikato University. Former Commonwealth Games medallist back in 1986, Kerrin Harrison is also in the singles where he plays Auckland coach Brent Miller.

In the women’s singles the top seed is Southland’s Anna Rankin who looks to be on target to face Waikato’s Amanda Brown in one semifinal. If things go to plan in the bottom half of the draw top Auckland junior Lilian Shih will most likely play North Harbour’s second seed Anona Pak who won all three titles in the under19 championships last year.

Notable in the men’s doubles is the Masters combination of Yong Ket and New Zealand badminton legend Richard Purser, while the top seeds are the Auckland pair of Ashraf Dhoray and Brent Miller. Second seeds are Henry Tam and Wu with the other combination to watch for being Harbour’s Brock Matheson and Richardson.

The women’s doubles has defending champs Stephanie Cheng and Kylie Luo as top seeds with the Waikato team of Doria Rivera Aliaga and Madeleine Stapleton as second seeds.

The mixed doubles draw has North Harbour duo Maika Phillip and Pak as the top seeds with their main competition likely to come from the winners of Tam and Luo against Eunson and Stapleton, which just happens to be a first round contest.

The Alpers Lodge New Zealand National Badminton Championships 2012 will be held Friday 16 March – Sunday 16 March at the Auckland Badminton Stadium
www.badminton.org.nz