HEYTOUR HAWKS defeat HUAWEI DRAGONS 4-3
After an exhilarating first night of LEARNCOACH NZBL magic, the match-up between HUAWEI Dragons & HEYTOUR Hawks had much to live up to. The line-up promised numerous hotly contested matches, with TAB bets tipping the Hawks to edge out a narrow win.
HUAWEI Dragons’ Dylan Soedjasa and Alyssa Tagle were excited to step onto court first, facing the lanky Hawks pairing of Abhinav Manota and Erena Calder-Hawkins. With Tagle taking quick control of the front court, the Dragons collected the first game. A few wise words from Hawks Coach Tony Griffen was the motivation Manota and Calder-Hawkins needed to push the mixed doubles into a deciding third game. “It was our first time playing together, but it was the communication that got us through each point,” said Calder-Hawkins, as she reflected on their win.
Manota returned to court in the most anticipated match-up of the night, taking on Dragon’s Oscar Guo. With fresh legs and strong attacking game play, Guo was quick to bank the first game. Manota retaliated in the second, anticipating Guo’s attack and inserting his own sharp angles. A deciding game saw both men utilise the whole court, with a complete mix of finesse, power and skill. It was Manota who claimed victory, taking the Hawks to an early 2-0 lead.
Determined to get on the scoreboard, Dragon’s Shaunna Li had her game face on as she stepped out on court in the Women's Singles. Her sharp angles and court control were no match for the Hawks’ Courtney Trillo, with Dragons closing out the match in two sharp games. “I was mentally ready for the game,” claimed Li in her post-match interview.
Men's Doubles was next up, with three fresh faces accompanying Dragon’s Soedjasa on court. The Hawks were a mix of youth and experience with Ryan Tong and Dhanny Oud claiming an explosive first game. The Dragon’s Soedjasa and Adam Jeffrey retaliated with a vengeance, with a convincing 11-6, 11-3 victory in the latter games.
With the tie equal at two matches apiece, Li and Tagle returned to court against Hawks’ Calder-Hawkins and Jasmin Ng. The fruitful combination of Tagle’s net game and Li’s rear court power made for a tidy win is straight games.
Needing a win to force the tie into a Golden Game, the Hawks pair of Oud and Ng returned to court to take on Guo and Ashley Tan in the remaining Mixed Doubles. The Hawks demonstrated their experience as a pairing, claiming a quick win in the first game. A change in tactics from the Dragons and a few unforced errors from the Hawks pushed the match into a third deciding game. Oud reflected on the match:
They definitely found the right game plan and we backed off in the second. Luckily, we muscled through to get us that third game.
Bring on the Golden Game!
In a process of elimination, coaches Rikke Olsen-Siegemund (Dragons) and Tony Griffen (Hawks) determined the Golden Game to be Men's Doubles. The Dragons fielded their original doubles pairing of Soedjasa and Jeffrey, whilst Hawks substituted in Manota to accompany Oud. Both teams had opportunities to take the lead, but the pressure proved too much for Soedjasa and Jeffrey, conceding to the Hawks 9-11.
Full match details: Huawei Dragons vs HeyTour Hawks