In a classic David versus Goliath clash, the undefeated HeyTour Hawks sought to continue their stellar run of form with an eye to securing a place in the grand final. Standing in their path were the always promising, but yet to win, Huawei Dragons.
In what may prove to be the match of the tournament, Dylan Soedjasa and Alyssa Tagle were on the cusp of claiming a major upset as they held two match points in the second game, however the fighting spirit of the Hawks duo Abhinav Manota and Erena Calder-Hawkins ensured they not only saved the two match points, but fought back from 7-3 down in the third game to prevail in a nail-biter.
Fresh and on form, Manota then made quick work of fellow North Harbour player Oscar Guo in a rapid-fire 13-minute demolition. If after the first game Shaunna Li thought she was going to have a similarly quick match, Courtney Trillo soon put stop to that. Forcing a decider, the match hung in the balance at 10-10, however the New Zealand National Champion held her nerve to notch the Dragons first victory of the night.
Boasting an intimidating 10-0 record in this season’s LearnCoach NZBL Manota eyed his third victory of the evening. What ensued was a thrilling match as the first game fell the way of Soedjasa and Adam Jeffrey 15-14, before dominating the third to level the ledger at two matches apiece.
The Dragons' two youngest players, 16 year-olds Li and Ashley Tan, then combined to dominate the Women’s Doubles and it was over to Li and Guo to finish the night. Pushed to a third game, the Dragons pair produced a masterclass winning 11-2 and with it, claiming the Dragons first victory of the season, to rapturous celebrations.
The undisputed Crystal Ashley MVP Shaunna Li was ever-humble in victory, highlighting the importance of the win as the Dragons seek to revive their season.
Full match details: HeyTour Hawks vs Huawei Dragons