The YONEX New Zealand U19 National Championships concluded on Sunday as a number of players looked to sign-off their Junior Badminton Careers with an exclamation mark.
The day began with a repeat of 2017 as Oscar Guo (NH) and Tamara Otene (NH) reclaimed their Mixed Doubles title, beating Jack Wang (CAN) and Sonia Lu (AK) 21-12, 21-12. While Guo and Otene added a fourth Age Group National Title to their partnership (2014 – U15, 2016 – U17 and 2017 – U19) Wang and Lu were experiencing their first final together, however it wasn’t to be their day, after two tight wins the previous day.
Competing in her first Under-19 National Final, Shaunna Li beat fellow North Harbour team mate Catelyn Rozario 21-14, 21-13. The win ensures that for the next 6 weeks Li will simultaneously hold the National Girl’s Singles titles in the U15, U17 and U19 age groups. Rozario will take solace from her performance at the Championships, having early beaten Ella Smith (STH) to show that she is finding strong form after a long lay-off with injury.
The third match of the day saw Doubles partners Oscar Guo and Dacmen Vong (AK) line each other up as both look for form heading into the BWF World Junior Championships. Unfortunately for Vong, Guo continued his dominance of the event as he ran away with a comfortable 21-11, 21-9 win. Having previously won the Championships in 2016 and 2017, Guo joins illustrious company in Richard Purser (1958-60), John Compton (1964-66) and John Moody (1998-01) as only the fourth player to win three consecutive Under-19 Boy’s Singles titles.
As the youngest pairing in the Championships the pressure was off Roanne Apalisok (WTK) and Janice Jiang (AK) heading into the Girl’s Doubles final, yet they delivered with a tight 21-17, 21-17 win against Catelyn Rozario and Sophie Li (AK). The pair held strong against a passionate opposition, as they won key points when it counted most. Apalisok and Jiang will now turn their attention to the National U17 Championships as they hope to claim another title.
In the final match of the day, Guo completed his triple crown in the Boy’s Doubles alongside long-time partner Vong with a 21-18, 21-11 victory over Adam Jeffrey (WKO) and Ryan Tong (AK). Oscar and Dacmen will surely enjoy looking back on their time in the junior ranks as their partnership has seen them take seven national titles over the past 5 years to sit alongside Chance Cheng and Henry Tam as the only pairs to win three consecutive Under-19 Boys’s Doubles titles.
Melissa Hopkin (WEL) edged Maxwell Zhu (AK) for the Umpire of the Championships, as players and parents alike commended her on a brilliant job throughout the event.
In the plate events Clive Luna (AK) and Jenny Zhu (CAN) beat Junius Ong (MAN) and Jia Yen Tee (WN) in the singles. Samuel Sun (NH) and Tianyi Xie (WN) claimed the Boy’s Doubles plate. Ella Smith (STH) partnered Lily Rose (WKO) to beat sister Claudia Smith (STH) alongside Sonia Lu in the Girl’s Doubles. With Patrick Wang (AK) and Rachel Li (AK) wrapping everything up in the Mixed Doubles.
This year sees a number of high quality players progress to the senior ranks, including Dacmen Vong, Jacqueline Yu, Rodger Yang and Charmaine Wu. However, the most notable is certainly Oscar Guo. Oscar will sign off from a brilliant Junior career in which he won six Under-15 titles, seven Under-17 titles, nine Under-19 titles and five Junior Team Championships with North Harbour. His final Junior National Event is the YONEX NZ Secondary School Championships in which he will seek to help Westlake Boys’ High School win their fourth Championship in the past five years. We wish Oscar and all the other players the very best with their future badminton careers.
Article and photos courtesy of Badminton New Zealand (some changes have been made)