After a long week and some hard fought battles Lithuanian Kestutsis Navickas is the champion of the Atwater International 2010. In spite of the relatively straight forward scores he had throughout the tournament Navickas fought very hard powering his way through his matches by virtue of his gritty play, fighting harder than all of his opponents. His final match against France’s Brice Leverdez was his most challenging of the week, and the only match to go three games with Navickas winning 21-16, 18-21, 21-14.
Canada’s Wunderkind Michelle Li seemed poised for her first international title, but it wasn’t to be as her second Japanese opponent was able to just sneak past her in the end. Oka Hitomi would be the second consecutive Japanese shuttler to dash Li’s hopes in a thrilling three game win 15-21, 21-12, 23-21.
Dutchmen Ruud Bosch and Koen Ridder were dominant all week in Montreal, and the finals were no different. They made their way to the finals without dropping a game, and American pair Halim Haryanto and Phillip Chew would be no different losing 21-13, 21-10. The women’s doubles was unfortunately a default victory for Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether as Huang Ruilin and Lim Yee Theng were unable to play.
Perhaps the most impressive match of the day was the sibling rivalry in the mixed doubles between Derrick and Toby Ng. The two brothers faced off for family pride, but it was Toby and his partner Grace Gao taking the title in a nailbiter over Derrick and Jiang Xuelian 21-18, 20-22, 26-24. No doubt the Ng household has much to be proud of these past few weeks with Derrick’s recent victory in Peru with doubles partner Adrian Liu.
Although a little late in coming, the draws for the Atwater Canadian International 2010 have been released. Apparently the Pan American organizers had their laptop stolen at the recent World Junior Championships which delayed their publication of the draw.
Top seeded Brice Leverdez faces Zhang Kailai from Canada who may be unseeded, but recently immigrated from China so the top seed could be the first favourite to fall. Other strong favourites for the mens singles title include second seed Canada’s Stephan Wojcikiewicz, third seed Kestutis Navickas, and a handful of other seeds. Perhaps the most dangerous dark horse in the draw is Japan’s Ikeda Yuichi who won the recent Peru International.
Nicole Grether from Germany is the top seed gunning for the womens singles title. Similar to Leverdez in the mens singles Grether has a tough first round against Canada’s Phyllis Chan. On the far side of the draw is Jeanine Cicognini from Switzerland who plays Canada’s Valerie St Jacques. Other notables include Anna Rice, Michelle Li from Canada, and Claudia Rivero from Peru, Oka Hitomi and Ito Kana from Japan.
Almost an exclusively Canadian event, however both the first and second seeds are non-Canadian with Dutch players Ruud Bosch and Koen Ridder as first seeds, and Americans Phillip Chew and Halim Haryanto as second seeds. Recent Peru International winners Derrick Ng and Adrian Liu will be gunning for the second ever international title, they are the third seeds. Fourth seeded Maxime Belanger and Francois Bourret will be looking to make an impact, and unseeded Canadian national champions Jon Vandervet and Alvin Lau are also looming threats.
The German/Canadian duo of Nicole Grether and Charmaine Reid are the top seeds once again after cruising to a straight forward win in Peru recently. As in Peru the second seeds will be Peru’s Christina Aicardi and Claudia Rivero. Both the seeded pairs have challenging first rounds matches. Grether and Reid will likely face the recent Canadian national champions Melody Liang and Jiang Xuelian. The Peruvian second seeds have a possible match up against Michelle Li and Alex Bruce.
In the mixed doubles we have yet another near exclusive Canadian draw with only three pairs not featuring a Canadian player. Top seeded Canadians Toby Ng and Grace Gao will be looking to take their first ever international title, however there are a number of other pairs threatening the title. Perhaps the most threatening are Canadian national champions Jon Vandervet and Milaine Cloutier who are unseeded.
Thus far there have been very few upsets at the 2009 Yonex OCBC US Open, and in the mens singles there have been exactly none. Every seed, except Dicky Palyama who didn’t play, has made it through to the quarter finals. I am really excited to see what happens between David Snider and Taufik Hidayat. I have no delusions about David being able to win this match. This would no doubt be the best player that David has ever played before by a long shot, however, David has gone to three games with Andrew Smith who himself went three games with Taufik. I know this is 11 year old logic, but still, wouldn’t it be cool to see a close game between these two? It is of course possible that Taufik might be interested in a day trip to Disneyland tomorrow, and the pesky semi-finals might get in the way of that, it would be wise to take it easy in the quarters then right?
For the womens events I really don’t know many of the players, however I do know that Anna Rice and Eva Lee have had some good battles in the past (I think so at least). Anna spent a large part of the last few months away from intense training while doing work in Africa, so it is possible that she is not quite at her best, but still she is solid. Another Canadian worth watching is Michelle Li. She is new to the international circuit, but she is very strong for her young age. With still another year left in juniors she is already the second best player in Canadian seniors. As for the womens doubles, I know even fewer players. It would appear that the Americans have a good hold on this event with the exception of the top seeds Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether from Canada and Germany respectively.
The mens doubles appears to be the most diverse draw with players hailing from Korea, Austria, Wales, England, Denmark, Canada, and the USA. No doubt that former world champions Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach are the biggest names in the draw and certainly the favourites in my mind, despite their low seeding.
Finally the mixed doubles, I really have no clue. I would say it’s a choice between any one of either Halim Haryanto, Tony Gunawan or Howard Bach for this title.
It’s probably been over a decade since Taufik Hidayat played a match where he had to work so little. As he walked his way to a 21-3, 21-10 victory, it’s doubtful the Olympic champion broke a sweat. It’s a rare occasion that a player like Taufik goes to North America for a tournament, I’m actually suspicious that he may have come for a holiday to see his old friends Tony Gunawan and Halim Haryanto who are both living in the US now. Disneyland and Hollywood are sure to be on his itinerary. So far all of the mens singles seeds have been relatively unchallenged in their matches, with only Dicky Palyama gone as he withdrew from the tournament. The next few rounds could prove to be interesting, but all of it is inconsequential as the likelihood of Taufik not winning this tournament is extremely low. I am curious however to see how well a number of different players could do against him, first of which could be Canada’s David Snider. Very unlikely to win (see hell freezing over in the dictionary), but a potentially fun one to watch.
In the women’s singles there have been few surprises. Perhaps some upsets on paper, but few surprises. Canada’s Michelle Li defeated American Shannon Pohl, but hardly a surprise as Michelle Li is solid. Another upset on paper is Mona Santoso’s win over Charmaine Reid from Canada, but hardly surprising as Mona Santoso is extremely good. I can’t remember exactly what her story is, but I’m guessing she’s a former Indonesian player from back in the day. Overall it seems to be a battle between Canada and the US, which is not surprising.
In the men’s doubles the only big names are Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan, and perhaps Halim Haryanto. But I don’t think any of these guys are still all that active on the tour these days. Howard and Tony are likely the favourites for this event, but that depends strongly on how much they have been playing lately. The women’s doubles have only had a few early round matches as the majority of the teams had byes to the second round. Finally the mixed doubles features what seems to be a number of retirees coming back for fun or players on the verge of retiring. Halim Haryanto and his partner Grace Peng, Richard Vaughn and Sarah Thomas, Tony Gunawan and Nantana Ketpura, and Howard Bach and Eva Lee.
It’s a shame that the North American events don’t get more big names out to play, but its not surprising. The events are not going to generate the same level of sponsor involvement, and as a result prize money will be much lower. With an event that is also a fair bit away from any other events, it is quite a bit of travel for one event, especially if it doesn’t pay well. At least there is Disneyland nearby.