The YONEX New Zealand Tertiary Championships concluded in Wellington this afternoon and looking at the score lines, you could be mistaken for being confused with the 2017 edition. University of Auckland (UoA) prevailed over long-time rivals University of Waikato 4-1, however the tie was far tighter than the score line suggests. This story could have been written about Waikato reclaiming the Championships after a three-year hiatus, however while the 2018 Waikato team came far closer this year, UoA came up clutch throughout the four-hour tie. The tie started promisingly for Waikato, as Vincent Harris and Chris Steeghs evened the ledger 1-1 won in the Men’s Doubles 21-15, 13-21, 22-20, having seen Gaea Galvez continue her dominant Championships with a 21-14, 21-16 victory first up. However, the drama began in the Women’s Doubles as Erena Calder-Hawkins was forced from court due to a blood nose having won the first game with Jahvaya Copaey Kara 21-18, upon returning UoA turned the match around with 21-16 and 21-13 games. Facing a must-win match, the Matthew’s squared off and it was Chan who came out on top 21-23, 21-17, 21-13. UoA rounded out the tie with a convincing 21-14, 21-12 Mixed Doubles victory. The win ensures the Robson Shield stays with UoA for a fourth-consecutive year.
University of Otago continued their coming of age at the Wellington Council sponsored Championships. Progressing to the top four for the first time, Otago pushed Waikato throughout before setting up a 3rd place play-off with the other tournament surprise packages Massey University. Massey themselves will look back on 2018 with fond memories as they fielded the youngest team at the Championships and upset the more fancied AUT in the group stage. Otago however proved too strong, winning 5-0, courtesy of three game victories in Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Both teams will leave Wellington very proud of their achievements.
Finally, in the fifth to seventh play-offs, AUT survived an injury scare which forced them to surrender Men’s Doubles before taking to court. With both of their men suffering ankle injuries on Saturday, Wen Jun See was unable to compete on Sunday due to the severity of his injury, leaving Elijah Briones to claim the decisive win with Sally Fu in the Mixed Doubles. The win saw AUT claim fifth position having beaten Victoria University on Saturday. Victoria University ran out convincing winners over University of Canterbury to finish their home Championships in sixth position. Mixed doubles again proved to be the match of the tie with Syphonexay Manyvong and Jara Loeliger winning 22-20, 14-21, 21-19.
The universities now turn their attention to the Tertiary Hockey Championships in July, while many of the players in action this weekend will be seeking glory in the Wisden and Slazenger Cups to be held in mid-July.