The Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Badminton League took centre stage at the luxurious SKYCITY Theatre for Round Four action that did not disappoint. In a historic first, New Zealand’s best badminton players competed live on a theatre stage and their performances rose to the special occasion.
The unbeaten Tiger Broker Tigers pounced early against the Starship Rockets in the 3v3 to open the night in front of a great crowd. Ricky Cheng and the Rockets replied with a tight two game win over the ever improving Josh Feng 11-9, 11-8, before Courtney Trillo returned the favour for the Tigers in a similar fashion, beating Catelyn Rozario in a closely-fought 13-11, 11-8 win.
Now holding the momentum, the new Tigers pairing of Edward Lau and Jack Wang smashed through the experienced Rockets pair of Dylan Soedjasa and Jonathan Curtin 11-7, 11-5. The Rockets, in desperate need of a win to stay in contention, achieved just that with in form Women’s Doubles pair Rozario & Alyssa Tagle easily dispatching Trillo & Roanne Apalisok 11-8, 11-3. Tagle was straight back on court with Soedjasa for the Mixed Doubles, settling the score to win 11-5, 11-9 and with it, forcing the tie into a Golden Game.
In a tough process of elimination the coaches settled on Men’s Singles with Cheng versus 2020 MVP Lau as the Golden Game to determine the winner of the tie. Lau looked every inch the MVP, winning in convincing style 11-3 and also capturing the Crystal Ashley Match MVP in the process. With the win the Tiger Broker Tigers booked their place in the Grand Final. While the Starship Rockets will need to battle their way through Rounds 5 and 6, they will be fired up to return to the SKYCITY Theatre to get their revenge and take the title.
The second match of Round Four had all the drama of a Broadway show with an intriguing matchup between the Plenty Bay Whales and the Mighty Jazz Apples. With both teams desperate for a win to stay in contention for the Grand Final, they certainly brought their best game to centre stage at the SKYCITY Theatre.
The Apples started strong with a close win in the 3v3 and backed this up with a good win for Oscar Guo over young new-comer to the league Chris Benzie of the Whales 11-4, 11-9. Staring down a two-nil deficit, Shaunna Li needed to find her championship form and she didn’t disappoint, confidently defeating a spirited Angelina Ung 11-8, 11-3. Her teammates Ryan Tong and Adam Jeffrey couldn’t keep the wins rolling for the Whales as they lost to Dacmen Vong and Evan Wong of the Apples 11-8, 11-8 in a tight match.
With the tie on the line down 3-1, the Women’s Doubles provided the match of the night, as the calculating control of Li combined with the fire and passion of Jasmin Ng to win a roller coaster contest 6-11, 12-10, 11-9 against experienced duo Sally Fu and Erena Calder Hawkins, saving four match points in the process. Still one match down in the tie, the Whales needed Li to stay on court and continue her magic in the Mixed Doubles. Combining with Jeffrey, the Whales fought hard to squeeze past the talented pair of Vong and Calder Hawkins 8-11, 11-5, 12-10 to force a second Golden Game on the Theatre stage.
It was the turn of the coaches to take the stage and the Women’s Doubles was selected through the process of elimination to determine the tie winner. After carrying the Whales to a Golden Game, Li and Ng couldn’t quite get there as Fu and Calder Hawkins found redemption and won the tie for the Apples 11-9. Li’s valiant efforts were rewarded as she took out the Crystal Ashley Match MVP.
Round Five returns to Badminton North Harbour on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th April with two critical matches. The Plenty Bay Whales, Starship Rockets and the Mighty Jazz Apples all still have the opportunity to reach the Grand Final as long as they win their Round Five tie.
Don’t miss the action – live in venue or on SKY Sport Next from 7pm on both Tuesday and Wednesday.