Songkhla, Thailand, April 16, 2016 – Australia enjoyed mixed fortunes in the finals of the “SMM” AVC Beach Tour 17th Samila Open on Saturday, with Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird making it two in a row in Thailand and the three-time Asian champions Isaac Kapa/Chris McHugh beaten by old foes Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko from Kazakhstan in a rematch of the Pak Para Open final.
Kapa/McHugh, who started their partnership in 2012 to seal their first Asian Championships title in China, were initially tipped to repeat the feat in the Samila Open in Songkhla as the formidable Aussies have already captured their first title in Thailand in the Pak Bara Open in Satun on Monday, April 11.
However, things turned sour for the Australian duo when they succumbed to a shock 17-21 14-21 defeat to Dyachenko/Sidorenko, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, in the Saturday’s showdown.
For the Kazakh pairing, the sensational victory was a sweet revenge as they last week went down fighting to Kapa/McHugh in the final showdown at the Pak Bara Open.
“We are very happy to win this tournament. I think Australia team had very tough semi-finals coming to the final match, so it is not good enough for them in physical condition to win. We feel better and fresher and we tried to play our best. I like playing here as I have already come here for around ten times. It is a very nice tournament with nice weather. We are going to play in the Palembang Open Asian Tour in Indonesia and the Moscow Grand Slam in Russia,” Dyachenko commented after the final.
Australia suffered a double blow when Joshua Court/Damien Schumann, bronze medallists at the last month’s Asian Championships at Manly Beach in Sydney, lost a thrilling three-setter 21-16 18-21 6-15 to Li Zhuoxin/Li Jian in the third-place playoff. The Chinese duo took home bronze medals.
In the semi-finals earlier, Kapa/McHugh overcame a strong challenge from Court/Schumann to win the all-Aussies affair 27-25 18-21 15-13, while Sidorenko/Dyachenko brushed off Li Zhuoxin/Li Jian in straight sets 21-17 21-14.
For the men’s victory, Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko from Kazakhstan claimed US$3,000 cash prize. The next three runners-up, Australians Isaac Kapa/Chris McHugh, Chinese Li Zhuoxin/Li Jian and Australians Joshua Court/Damien Schumann, took home prize money of US$2,500, US$2,000 and US$1,500 respectively.
Meanwhile, Australians Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird, the last year’s world U23 champions and silver medallists at the last month’s Asian Championships in Sydney, made another impact in Thailand following their convincing 21-7 21-13 win over local hopefuls Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, silver medallists at both the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea and the Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand in the same year, in the women’s final showdown.
It was the second title of Del Solar/Laird achieved in Thailand after the Aussies clinched their first crown last week at the Pak Bara Open. A perfect sweep of both titles at stake in the Pak Bara Open in Satun and the Samila Open in Songkhla made Del Solar/Laird an excellent fit for the Continental Cup, to be held later this year in Australia to decide berths for the Rio Games.
“We have great tournaments here in Thailand. Today, we started well and played our best game. We have to come out hard as we know Thailand are a very strong team and they always played with their hearts as the whole crowd will support them,” said Del Solar after the final match.
“Therefore, I think we have to stay together, trust in our game and we did it. That’s why we came out on top. This is our preparation for the Continental Cup Finals as we have to play against strong teams again. I am really excited for the tournament in a couple months from now. We will next play in Palembang, Indonesia and we have to be mentally and physically strong together and we must put our skills to the test against strong teams out there. We look forward to coming back to play here again next year,” she added.
Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova took the bronze medals following the one-sided 21-14 21-13 win over Indonesians Dhita Juliana/Putu Dini Jasita in the third-place playoff.
In the semi-finals earlier, Thailand’s Varapatsorn/Tanarattha struggled to beat Dhita/Putu in straight sets 21-19 21-15, while Artacho Del Solar/Laird were locked in a tight contest against Mashkova/Tsimbalova, whom they beat in the showdown of the Pak Bara Open in Satun last week. The Aussies finally pulled off a hard-fought 21-19 22-20 win over the Kazakh duo.
Champions Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird pocketed US$3,000 cash prize, while first runners-up Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, second runners-up Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova and third runners-up Dhita Juliana/Putu Dini Jasita claimed US$2,500, US$2,000 and US$1,500 respectively.
Songkhla Deputy Governor Mr Anuchit Trakulmuthuta and TVA President Mr Somporn Chaibangyang jointly presided over the awards presentation and the closing ceremony. Also attending the ceremony on Saturday as guests of honour were AVC Executive Vice President Mr Essa Hamza and AVC Secretary-General Mr Shanrit Wongprasert.