Top badminton returns to New Zealand with the staging of the Sotx Auckland International next weekend featuring close to 100 players from 11 nations.
The tournament will be held at the Auckland Badminton Stadium at Gillies Ave Thursday 21 – Sunday 24 June and has some players of real note taking part.
Former Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist and two-time British Olympic representative, Tracey Hallam has entered the event as has former world top 30 ranked Andrew Smith from England.
Hallam, who aside from her Commonwealth Games success reached a career-high world ranking of seven and made the quarterfinals of singles at the Athens Olympics currently resides in the Waikato and works in schools in the region.
Australian Olympic representative Victoria Na has entered in preparation for her London Games appearance and will be top seed while another new Olympian, Mohamed Alfan Fasheed from the Maldives is confirmed in the men’s singles.
The men’s top seed will be Southland’s James Eunson with former New Zealand-based American Bjorn Seguin second seed followed by Smith.
Players such as Southland’s Anna Rankin and Waikato’s Amanda Brown will be aiming to stop Na taking the women’s singles while it is likely that Hallam will be unseeded in the draw.
The men’s doubles will be a good test for the Kiwi men, particularly Oliver Leydon-Davis and Kevin Dennerly-Minturn who have been living and training in the badminton stronghold of Denmark for much of the past year. This will be their first tournament in New Zealand in 2012.
The pair won a crucial match in the Thomas Cup Oceania final against Australia earlier this year to help New Zealand qualify against the odds for the Thomas Cup world finals.
TJ Weistra the former Dutch representative who coaches in New Zealand and won the national singles championships is in the singles draw and is likely to play fellow Waikato player Michael Fowke who he coaches. Weistra is in the doubles draw with Britain’s Tom Armstrong as his partner.
Also of note will be the form of a number of players from badminton hotbeds such as Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Taipei were the sport is hugely popular. It is thought that the players entered for Auckland will be the potential stars of the future with this being one of their first major overseas events.