Vaitoti Tupa, Danniel Daniel, Setephano Vakatini, Damus Matakino, Kariana Hagai, Eleanor Wichman, Tereapii Akavi and Loureina Kureta participated in a four day development camp before competing in the Victor Oceania Championships.
The team were put through their paces with two sessions of two hour high intensity trainings each day.
“Our players admitted it was tough but were eager to improve and make the most of the opportunity,” said Thomas Ngauru, the president of Badminton Cook Islands.
They were joined by over 30 juniors and seniors from Tonga, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Tahiti and Fiji.
The development camp was organised by Badminton Oceania and led by Badminton Oceania coaching and development manager Robbie Thackham.
Held annually, the Oceania championships is a platform to qualify for World and Mixed Team Championships and include the top senior players from the region including Australia and New Zealand.
Ngauru said it was always going to be daunting task for the junior players to not only overcome their nerves but to also be competitive.
Standout performances came from young Loureina Kureta who after a nervous first game during her singles match against Australia’s Charis Ho, went into the second game with a lot more confidence.
She led for a good part but was unable to capitalise on her lead going down 21- 5, 21-15.
“It was brilliant to see her move the shuttle around the court, cutting down on unforced errors and creating good space,” Ngauru said.
Damus Matakino went up against the second seed Anthony Joe of Australia in his first-round singles match and received a lot of praise from coaches and players for his outstanding effort and positive attitude.
Despite the 21-7 21-8 loss, Matakino was able to rally against his more experienced opponent and really made him work for the win.
The trip was part of the Cook Islands Junior Development programme and a Badminton Oceania initiative to prepare the squad for the World Junior Championships to be held in Auckland from September 28th to October 10th.
Ngaru said, “this will be the first ever time the Cook Islands will compete in this Junior Under 19 event which is held annually and usually in the Northern Hemisphere, so we are lucky the venue is so close to home.”
“We hope to select a team of three boys and girls to represent the country at this once in a lifetime event.”
“We also acknowledge the tremendous sponsorship from the Bank of the Cook Islands who have continued to support our Junior development program over the last couple of years; also a big thank you to CITC Supermarket and Prime foods Ltd for your support with the teams fundraising efforts and to all the families and friends for their support.”
Women’s Doubles: K Hagai & E Wichman lost to S Fu & A Tagle (2) (NZ) 21-6 21- 9, L Kureta & T Akavi (CI) lost to E Calder-Hawkins & J Chang Man Ng (NZ) 21-3 21-4. Men’s Doubles: D Daniel & V Tupa (CI) lost to M Chau & S Serasinghe (AUS) 21-3 21-6. Mixed Doubles: S Vakatini & L Kureta (CI) lost to B Nicole & C Moussy (NCL) 21-8 21-12, D Daniel & T Akavi (CI) lost to J Yu & A Yu (AUS) 21-6 21-5, D Matakino & K Hagai (CI) lost to P Soukasavt S Go(AUS) 21-5 21-6, V Tupa & E Wichman lost to O Leydon-Davis & A Pak (2) (NZ) 21-3 21-5. Singles: D Matakino lost to A Joe (2) (AUS) 21-7 21-8, V Tupa lost to L The Hung Pham (AUS) 21-5 21-4, D Daniel lost to A Wong (9) (AUS) 21-4 21-12, S Vakatini lost to T Zi Xuan Ng (AUS) 21-5 21-4, K Hagai lost to C Lee (6) (AUS) 21-9 21-6, E Wichman lost to S Kurniawan (AUS) 21-8 21-6, L Kureta lost to Charis Ho (AUS) 21-5 21-15, T Akavi lost to M Wijaya (AUS) 21-5 21-8.