The first round of qualifying of the Gibson O’Connor North Shore Open and PSA has seen some close matches as players vie for their place in the main draw.
The first match of the qualifying saw Leo Fatialofa of New Zealand take on David Pelino of the Philippines. Pelino got off to a comfortable lead in the first but Fatialofa managed to find some strong shots part way through the first, but it was not enough with Pelino claiming the first game 11-5. The second game saw much the same of the first, with Pelino taking a convincing lead and then Fatialofa managing to claw points back, but it was the same result with Pelino winning 11-5. Pelino was too strong for the young Kiwi in the third game with Pelino winning 11-1 and claiming the match in 3.
The next match was between Gabe Yam of New Zealand and Chris Van der Salm of New Zealand. Van Der Salm showed his strength and experience over yam claiming the first game 11-5. The next game saw Yam start to make good inroads with some great holds and pickups, but Van der Salm showed he could match the excellent shot choice and pickups and it was enough for Van der Salm to claim second 11-8. Van der Salm proved too much for Yam in the third with his shot selection being on point and Van der Salm claimed the game 11-2 and the match in 3.
Next it was a matchup between Rafa Yam and Reymark Bergornia of the Philippines. Yam and Bergornia showed stunning placement of the ball and great control throughout the first. Whilst it looked like Yam would claim the first game Bergornia stayed composed and dug deep and claimed the first game 11-9. It was similar in the second game with both players showing exceptional stamina but it was Bergornia that took the game 11-8 and the lead in the match. Yam came out and managed to work Bergornia hard in the third and it appeared that Bergornia was starting to wane. Yam capitalized on this drop from Bergornia claiming the game 11-6. Yam kept the momentum going his way in the fourth and there were less errors in his game and he worked well through moving the ball around the court claiming the fourth game 11-7 and sending the match to the fifth. It seemed that Bergornia found a new lease of life in the fifth and Yam saw several errors creep into his game. Yam eventually went down in 5 losing the fifth 11-3 to Bergornia.
The next qualifying match was between Kiwis Chris Lloyd and Corbin Faint. Faint showed good placement in the first game with Lloyd seeming unable to find an answer for his shots seeing Faint claim the first game 11-4. The tables quickly turned in the second as it was Lloyd who found his stride as Faint was put on the back foot. Lloyd took the momentum and claimed the second game 11-4 evening the game score up. Both Faint and Lloyd were looking strong in the third game with both players showing their placement of drops, ensuring the game was full of excitement. Lloyd's experience shone through though and he claimed the third 11-8 and edged the lead. There was plenty of strong play in the fourth but Lloyd stayed in front of Faint as Faints stamina started to fall by the side. It was Lloyd who claimed the fourth 11-5 sending him through to the final round of qualifying.
Local North Shore player Tom Taylor took on Matthew Lucente of New Zealand in the next qualifying match. Lucente worked Taylor around the court forcing the errors from him with Lucente sustaining control in the rallies and securing the first game 11-4. Whilst Taylor seemed to settle more into the second game Lucente made sure he kept his calm and the edge on the match claiming the second game 11-6. Lucente never looked out of place in the third as he continued to work Taylor and Lucente went on to win the game 11-4 claiming the match in 3.
Next on was Kiwis Sam Sayes and Anthony Lepper. Both players had high intensity rallies with great length and accuracy but Sayes took the first game 11-6 with his great consistency. It was a similar outcome in the second game with both players continuing in a similar fashion to the first and Sayes came out victorious again winning 11-4. Whilst Lepper dug deep in the third it was unfortunately not enough and Sayes claimed the game 11-6 and the match 3-0.
It was another North Shore local Akil Afghan on next to try and take out Nyeon-Ho Lee of Korea. Whilst Afghan found some great rhythm and shot selection in the first game and he looked to upset Lee with game ball in the first, some poor shot selection saw Lee fight back and claim the game 12-10. Lee used the momentum from winning the first to continue to propel him into the second and Afghan was not able to keep up going down in the second 11-6. Lee took an early lead in the third and whilst Afghan managed to make good gains it was not enough to secure him the win with Lee claiming the third game 11-9 and Lee making it through to the final of qualifying.
The final match of the night was an all Kiwi derby between Scott Galloway and Tyler Ranger. Ranger and Galloway were both here to play with some outrageous racket skills sending the ball in numerous directions, however it was Gallloway that managed to keep up the accuracy and he claimed the first game 11-6. Both players carried on in similar fashion in the second and whilst Ranger managed to find some strong shots Galloway again proved too strong as he took the second 11-7. Galloway looked set to wrap the match up leaving Ranger with very few options in the third as Galloway secured his spot in the final round of qualifying winning the game 11-5 and claiming the match in 3.
The final round of men’s and women’s qualifying kicks off at 6pm Thursday. Matchups can be found below.
Photos from the first round of qualifying can be found here
Check out the schedule of play for the Livestreaming of the Gibson O'Connor North Shore Open and PSA here:
If you wish to commentate or listen tosome alternative commentary over the weekend jump over to SPALK here.
Round 1 Qualifying – Men
 David Pelino (PHI) bt [L] Leo Fatialofa (NZL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-1
[L] Chris van der Salm (NZL) bt [L] Gabe Yam (NZL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-2
 Reymark Begornia (PHI) bt [L] Rafa Yam (PHI) 3-2: 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-3
[L] Chris Lloyd (NZL) bt [L] Corbin Faint (NZL) 3-1: 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5
[L] Matthew Lucente (NZL) bt [L] Tom Taylor (NZL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-4
 Sam Sayes (NZL) bt [L] Anthony Lepper (NZL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-6
 Nyeon-Ho Lee (KOR) bt [L] Akil Afghan (NZL) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-9
 Scott Galloway (NZL) bt [L] Tyler Ranger (NZL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-5
Final Qualifying – Men
 David Pelino (PHI) vs [L] Chris van der Salm (NZL)
 Reymark Begornia (PHI) vs [L] Chris Lloyd (NZL)
[L] Matthew Lucente (NZL) vs  Sam Sayes (NZL)
 Nyeon-Ho Lee (KOR) vs  Scott Galloway (NZL)
Final Qualifying – Women
 Anika Jackson (NZL) vs [L] Amara Afghan (NZL)
[L] Annaleise Faint (NZL) vs  Nadia Hubbard (NZL)
[L] Camden Te Kani-McQueen (NZL) vs [L] Courtney Trail (NZL)
[L] Rhiarne Taiapa (NZL) vs  Zoe Dykzeul (NZL)