Nicolaidis and Carracher lead Aussie success in Asia

Nicolaidis and Carracher lead Aussie success in Asia

Three Australian teams have tasted success at two events in Asia over the weekend, with one pair taking top spot on the podium.

Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis were victorious at the AVC Beach Tour Penghu Open in Chinese Taipei after going into the event as the top seeded men’s team.

Having eliminated compatriots D’Artagnan Potts and Ben Hood in Saturday’s quarter-final, the Australian duo powered past Japan’s Kosuke Fukushima and Hiroki Dylan Kurokawa 21-17, 21-19 to advance to a final showdown with New Zealand’s Bradley Fuller and Alani Nicklin.

It was the Kiwis who drew first blood in the decider, however Nicolaidis and Carracher were able come back and win a thrilling final 2:1 (15-21, 21-13, 15-13).

Carracher said he and Nicolaidis enjoyed the conditions and believes the result will springboard the duo into the tail-end of 2023.

“It was great to be back playing on a beach on the islands and having a bit of wind, that’s where Mark and I love to play,” said Carracher. “We don’t get as much opportunity on the World Tour to compete in the wind on actual beaches so it was a great opportunity for us and we loved every minute of it.

“We thought we didn’t quite get rewarded for how we’ve been training and playing over the past six months on the World Tour at the start of the year so we’re hoping to bounce back in the back half of this year and really take our opportunities.

“We thought we had a great tournament in Montreal and played some great level ball against some of the best teams in the world in the Elite16, so we’re really hoping to take some form through this event and into the next two months after World Championships.”

In the women’s draw, Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming opened up a big lead against fellow Aussies Jana Milutinovic and Stefie Fejes in the quarter-finals, winning the opening set 21-6.

However Milutinovic and Fejes were able to flip the momentum completely in the second set, taking it 21-12 to force a decider which they won 15-9.

The Aussie pair were unlucky to lose the opening set of their semi-final 22-24 against their Japanese opponents, but squared the ledger with a 21-19 result in the second before narrowly losing the third 11-15.

That set Milutinovic and Fejes up with a chance for bronze against Vanuatu’s Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko. The Australian pair had already defeated Lawac and Toko in the semi-finals of the Beach Pro Tour Futures at Coolangatta in April, but the match went to three close sets.

On this occasion, Milutinovic and Fejes were able to get the job done with far more ease, winning 2:0 (21-13, 21-11).

Elsewhere in Asia, Lizzie Alchin and Kayla Mears have finished third at the Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Qidong, China.

Despite a Pool D loss to their Lithuanian opponents, Alchin and Mears progressed to the round of 12, and made it to the semis with back-to-back wins against Chinese opponents.

A straight-sets loss in the semi was corrected in the bronze medal match, coming from a set down to win the third 15-10 and claim a place on the podium.

They now move on to Korea where they will contest this week’s Beach Pro Tour event in Seoul.

In the men’s draw, Australians James Takken and Solomon Bushby along with Josh Howat and Jack Pearse both took shares of equal fifth after bowing out in the quarter-finals.
Howat and Pearse are set to play this week’s Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Al-Alamein, Egypt.

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