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Upping The Badminton Odds

Upping The Badminton Odds

An upgrade in prizemoney and international circuit status from a US$30,000 One Star event to US$50,000 and Two Star status has seen entries for the Equinox New Zealand Badminton Open in Auckland improve dramatically with some of the world’s best players from badminton strongholds such as Singapore, Indonesia, Chinese Tapei, Japan, India and Malaysia enter the tournament.

“With main sponsor Equinox upping the prizemoney the depth of the field has snowballed. Some of the Indonesians and Singaporeans may not have the highest rankings but when they take the court they can beat anyone in the world. They will be amazing to watch,” say Badminton New Zealand executive director, Peter Dunne.

Manchester Commonwealth Games women’s singles winner, Li Li of Singapore will be one of the seeded players with countryman Ronald Susilo who was Singapore sportsman of the year in 2005 after beating world No1 Lin Dan to reach the Athens Olympics quarter-finals is set to be a title challenger in the men’s singles.

Another player to watch out for is Malaysian Tsuen Seng Lee who was runner-up in the 2002 Commonwealth Games men’s singles and had previously reached the final of the strong Indonesia Open while Singapore’s Yen Hui Kendrick Lee is a former world junior finalist.

In the women’s draw talented Indonesians Adriyanti Firdasari, the 2005 winner of the event and Fransisca Ratansena the runner-up return and will be tough to beat, however New Zealand’s own world top-20 ranked Rachel Hindley will also be one of the top seeds.

Men’s defending champ, Sairul Amar Ayob from Malaysia is returning along with Canadian top 40 player Bobby Milroy, England’s Andrew Smith and plenty of Australians in all five of the draws.

Kiwi Dan Shirley won the mixed title last year and was a finalist in the men’s doubles but with be without partners from the finals. Sara Runesten Petersen has returned to Denmark while John Gordon is recovering from a major injury.

Shirley will play with fellow Kiwi team members, Renee Flavell in the mixed and Craig Cooper in the men’s doubles and if the draws are in his favour could still make the semifinals or finals.

“It’s great for New Zealanders to play against such talent and we shouldn’t forget that our team put up a good fight at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and made the medal playoffs plus we do have world class Dan Shirley and other players such as John Moody, Rachel Hindley and Maggie Chan who are really starting to break through in major tournaments.

Having an event worth US$50,000 is remarkable in New Zealand in any sport and Badminton New Zealand is proud to be able to host an international series event of this nature in our country,” says Dunne.

The Equinox New Zealand Open will be played at the Auckland Badminton Centre, Gilles Ave, August 1-6.

At the conclusion of the Equinox New Zealand Open the Millennium & Copthorne NZ Hotel Test Series against Singapore will be held around New Zealand including using the Trusts Stadium in Waitakere for the first time as a major badminton venue.

The first test will be at Arena Manawatu, Tuesday August 8. The second test is Thursday August 10 at the Wellington Badminton Centre and the final test is Friday August 11 at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere.

A media session for the Equinox New Zealand Open with some of the top players including New Zealand’s best will be held at 2.30pm on Monday July 31 at the Auckland Badminton Centre. More details to come tomorrow.


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