Samoa Pacific Games participant Ezekiel Macario pulled off an upset over Nathan Guerrero in the men’s open singles play in the NMI Badminton National Championships last Friday at the TSL Sports Complex.
Macario, who represented the NMI in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, was pitted against fellow national team player Guerrero in the semis and took a 21-17, 21-14 victory to punch the first finals ticket in the division. Macario earlier cruised to a 21-0, 21-0 win over Perry Li to reach the semis and challenge the No. 2 seed Guerrero for the finals berth at the lower half of the men’s open singles draw.
At the top half of the draw, Jordan Pangilinan, who also saw action in the Samoa Pacific Games, advanced to the semis following a similar two-game triumph over Daniel Macario, 21-18, 21-7. Pangilinan’s next opponent will be No. 1 seed Joseph Torres, who along with Guerrero got a bye in the first round and automatically moved into the semis. The Pangilinan-Torres battle for the second and last finals ticket is scheduled for this Friday, while the championship match will also take place on the same day.
Before their men’s singles collision, Pangilinan and Torres first teamed up last Friday and marched into the finals after easing past Nicomedez Antonio and Paulo Quidato in the men’s open doubles play. The No. 1 seed Pangilinan and Torres coasted to a 21-8 win in the first game and then closed out the match with a 21-9 triumph.
The top-seeded players will now have to wait for their foes in the championship game this Saturday, as the finals berth at the lower half of the draw is still up for grabs. Guerrero and Hajin Oh boosted their chances to clinch the other men’s doubles finals seat after sweeping Patrick Fieldad and Li, 21-15, 21-9. Oh and Guerrero will next face siblings Daniel and Ezekiel Macario, who gained outright semis slot as they are seeded second in the draw and drew a bye.
Meanwhile, besides the men’s open singles and doubles divisions, the inaugural NMI Badminton National Championships also features matches in the women’s open doubles and singles and mixed doubles. Results in the women’s division will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition. There’s also a separate competition for U19 players (boys and girls singles, doubles, and mixed doubles). The U19 division games will kick off this Friday.
The NMI Badminton National Championships is organized by the Northern Marianas Badminton Association and is supported by Badminton Oceania. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NMI through the NMBA, is one of the only few member-countries of Badminton Oceania to have hosted a national championships this year. The Cook Islands had its event early this month, Solomon Islands and New Zealand’s took place in April and July, respectively, while Australia will have its open competition next month.