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Waikato Siblings Show Desire to Top Badminton Rankings

15 April 2014
From the SKYCITY Badminton NZ Open, for further information visit www.nzbadmintonopen.com

Waikato Siblings Show Stomach for Heights And a Desire to Climb to the Top of Badminton Rankings

Waikato brother/sister badminton combination Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis appear very relaxed in the lead up to the SKYCITY NZ Open at the North Shore Events Centre this week, in fact so relaxed about being home were the pair that they finished off their preparations for the Grand Prix tournament with a quick trip down the Sky Tower.

Neither showed outward signs of nerves as they embarked on the SKYJUMP from 192m high at the popular tourist attraction, freefalling for a couple of seconds to reach 85kph before reducing speed and heading safely towards the ground and waiting cameras.

The pair are ranked 47 in the world in Mixed Doubles, giddy heights for a couple that spend most of their time on opposite sides of the world, Oliver living and playing in Europe and around the world while Susannah is based in her home town of Hamilton as she juggles study, part time work and a dedication to sport that runs strong in the family.

Both loved the chance to take the SKYJUMP this morning, although quickly brought the subject back to the sport they love.

“The adrenalin is slowly subsiding but I am still buzzing a bit,” said Susannah.

“It was fantastic, a huge adrenalin rush, amazing,” said Oliver before admitting perhaps he was churning a little more on the inside than he was letting on.

“In terms of nerves though, I would take the chance to face off against the best players in the world on a badminton court any day!”

Once on solid ground again, the focus quickly reverted to the job in hand, playing in the SKYCITY NZ Badminton Open at the North Shore Events Centre this week, with Oliver playing Mixed Doubles with Susannah and Men’s Doubles with regular partner Kevin Dennerly-Minturn. Susannah will line up in the Women’s Doubles with fellow Kiwi Kritteka Gregory.

“This is a fabulous opportunity, to play in front of family and friends which is an opportunity we don’t get often at all,” said Susannah. “To have an event like this with the prestige it has and to have SKYCITY on board and all the other sponsors it is just great to be a part of such an event.”

For Oliver who is based in Denmark, the chance to play at home means even more.

“We get this chance once a year to play on home soil and to have this level of badminton here in New Zealand, it is nice to be home and hopefully put in a good performance.”

Far from feeling daunted, the pair are the top seeds in the Mixed Doubles, although the quality of the field is such that there will be no easy games, with former world number one Kien Keat Koo and Hui Lin Ng (Malaysia) a likely opponent should the Kiwis make it through a first round match against an Australian pairing.

“It is a great challenge to be top seeds, we have a tough draw in the second round if we make it through but that is just another challenge and the onus is on us to put in good performances this week,” said Susannah.

“The pressure is what you put on yourself in these situations, we will control what we can control and not look beyond that. Once we step on court it is the same wherever you are playing, we will just take it from there and not change anything,” said Oliver.

“We have drawn former world number one Keat in the second round, he won gold in Delhi in the mixed and is a former world number one in doubles. We are relishing that prospect and the chance to be on court against a player of his quality and see how we will go. But we have to get through the first round yet and that is tough as well. We will need to be at our best against a tough Australian pairing in that first match.”

Susannah agreed, far from shying away from the prospect, it is one the 21 year old is looking forward to.

“It is a privilege to be on court against a player of such a high level, a player with so many tournament wins to his name, that is a great opportunity for us and one we are looking forward to.”

Given that 23 year old Oliver spends the vast majority of his time overseas each year, living out of a suitcase and a small shared apartment in Denmark, does the distance affect the chemistry when the pair are on court?

“Being based on the opposite side of the world makes this sort of tournament and these sorts of opportunities all the more important. We have to maximize every moment we have on court in practice and in games to make sure things are working well,” said Oliver.

Susannah agrees, saying they do keep in contact throughout the year though, even if they are on different sides of the planet.

“There are a few skype calls, we keep in touch throughout the year, planning our schedule and how we will take on big events. We will look at our plan of attack for each event.

As well as the chance to impress in front of family, friends and local sponsors and media, the SKYCITY NZ Badminton Open is a final chance to secure ranking points and convince selectors of the New Zealand teams merit in going to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, something both are aware of.

“We are almost confirmed for Glasgow,” said Oliver. “That is our main focus, one of our peak events this year as well as the World Championships. We can start our preparations for that soon, once selections are confirmed.”

“It will be great to get another good performance under our belts to underline that selection so our focus is very much on doing that here at the SKYCITY NZ Open this week,” said Susannah.

Don’t be surprised if this daring young badminton pair venture back to the Sky Tower once the tournament is over for another SKYJUMP either, both enjoyed the rush so much.

Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis will play in first round Mixed Doubles and Men’s and Women’s Doubles action respectively tomorrow (Wednesday) at the SKYCITY NZ Badminton Open.

For all information, including live streaming of Courts 1 and 2 throughout the tournament, draws, schedules and results, visit www.nzbadmintonopen.com

Day one tonight features the first appearance of former world number 1 Lee Hyun Il (Korea) in his first round match at approx. 6.00pm. Tickets start from as little as $10 for adults and free for children, for further ticketing information, CLICK HERE


ENDS

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