Action a plenty at Open

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TEAM WORK: Whakatane’s Morgan Seymour and Rene Kapa set up a play at the Ohope Open on Saturday. Photo Louis Klaassen D4795-082

IT was business as usual as the National Beach Volleyball Tour stopped in Ohope.

The Ohope Open was staged at Maraetotara Reserve and was the second round of the tour. Women’s winners were Julia Tilley and Alice Bain and Sam O’Dea and Tom Hartles claimed the men’s title. Both teams were also victorious in the first round of the tour at Mount Maunganui last week.

Eastern Bay teams were also in good form, but suffered losses on Sunday. Whakatane’s Paora Morunga paired with Tauranga player Brad Fullerton and were the number one-ranked team before the first round. They came through pool play unscathed in Ohope on Saturday, winning their first two matches before upsetting number one seeds O’Dea and Hartles.

Meanwhile, Whakatane pair Rene Kapa and Morgan Seymour were also unbeaten in pool play, as they did not drop a set in their three wins.

Whakatane’s Nic Christie was in the same pool, and paired with Aucklander Nick McComrmick, and they won one of their three games.

After a sunny day on Saturday, players had humid, overcast conditions for the play-off games on Sunday. Morunga and Fullerton’s upset of the top seeds, meant Kapa and Seymour had to face O’Dea and Hartles in Sunday morning’s quarter-final. Kapa and Seymour lost to O’Dea and Hartles in the final at Mount Maunganui. The eventual champions made no mistake, winning 2-0, but Kapa said he and Seymour fought hard and took O’Dea and Hartles to within two points of dropping the first set. Kapa and Seymour won the next two classification games to place fifth.

Morunga and Fullerton won their quarter-final and then came up against Mike Watson and Manaia Harris in the semi-final. Watson and Harris were aggressive in the opening set, which they won 21-19. Morunga and Fullerton came out stronger in the second, but were denied any real momentum as Watson and Harris converted good scrambling into points. They won the second set to progress to the final, where they lost 2-1 to O’Dea and Hartles. Morunga and Fullerton won the third-place play-off to close out their tournament.

Morunga said not playing with Fullerton in the opening round might have an impact on their play at Ohope. He said after the match they would move forward and improve in round three at North Harbour this weekend as they built towards the national champs in February.

The women’s final was a good contest between Micah Lindsay-Brown and Dani Quigley and Tilley and Bain. Lindsay-Brown and Quigley had earlier won a hard battle in the semi-final against Francesca Kirwan, daughter of former All Black John Kirwam, and Kelsie Wills. Lindsay-Brown and Quigley took that form into the final and stunned the champs to take the first set 21-17. But Tilley and Bain bounced back to win 21-13 and 15-7 to claim the title.


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