by Wade Townsend
Nathan Xu and Yanglun Zhao have guaranteed that New Zealand will have a ticket to Buenos Aires after knocking out their Australian opponents in the semi-finals at the ITTF-Oceania Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament.
Xu caused the biggest upset when he took down top seed Benjamin Gould 4-1 (5, 3, 8, -5, 10). Xu held the table as Gould embraced the back of the court looking to out rally his opponent. But the safe backhand from the Kiwi sealed the win and goes in to the final undefeated.
“I’m really stoked to make it to the final. I’ll do my best to try qualify and get the win.” Nathan Xu
Meanwhile, Yanglun Zhao saw off a late comeback from Mateo Dvorani. Zhao took a commanding 3-0 lead but the Aussie wasn’t giving in so easily, taking the fourth and fifth games 11-8, 11-3. But the comeback was averted as the New Zealander raced to an early lead and closed out the match 11-7.
The wins mean that New Zealand now have guaranteed a clean-sweep of the titles in Bendigo, after the Kiwi girls also advanced to the final round.