By Francis Gabriel, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 14 – Nicolas Massenet of New Caledonia was too strong for Papua New Guinea’s Madako Suari Junior in the men’s singles squash final at the Steamships Racquet Centre on Tuesday.
Massenet showed more stamina to win the first, second and fourth sets 11-9, 12-10 and 11-7.
The New Caledonian was leading 5-3 in the third set when a power blackout disrupted the game, plunging the court into darkness for about 15 minutes.
When the match resumed, the refreshed Suari started picking up all Massenet’s short low strokes to level the scores at five-all, and then eight-all, before going on to take the set 11-9.
However, Suari was already showing signs of exhaustion before the fourth set began.
He managed to hold off Massenet’s continuous hard hits at the start of the final set, but in the end the No.1 seed wrapped up the match comfortably.
“Nicolas is a tough player. He runs and runs and I wasn’t patient enough to keep the rallies going,” said Suari after taking the silver medal.
“The crowd helped me a lot and I should have pushed harder, but Nicolas was the better player on the day and he deserved it. Finishing second in the tournament is a big achievement for me.”
The PNG player also revealed that he had been hampered by an injury during the match.
“I injured my oblique (muscle) six weeks before the Games and I had to put more pressure on my good leg. I was in a huge amount of pain and it affected my performance. I was concentrating too much on the pain, and not enough on trying to get the ball.”
Massenet, however, said he did not notice that Suari was carrying an injury.
“I didn’t know he was injured – he ran a lot for someone with an injury,” Massenet said.
“It was a very physical match and I think my fitness was the key to my victory. I tried to make him work. Without my fitness, I would have lost. Now I’m exhausted but so happy to win. The Pacific Games for me is like the Olympic Games.”
On the power cut, Massenet added: “It was a difficult moment because I was leading and he was very tired. But I just tried to stay focused.”
The women’s gold medal match was an all-PNG affair between veteran Eli Webb and hot favourite Lynette Vai.
Webb pulled off a shock by winning the first set 11-8, but Vai hit back emphatically to win the next three sets 11-1, 11-3, 11-1.
“It wasn’t a good start – my nerves took over. She’s improved a lot and lost a lot of weight,” said gold medallist Vai.
“It was more of a challenge than the last time we played and I wasn’t expecting it. But I had a break, calmed myself down and tried again. I became more patient, settled in and got used to her game. This is a goal achieved since I was very young so I’m very happy.”
Webb said she had never expected to win the gold medal against the top seed.
“In the first set I surprised myself, but then reality set in, as did the 25 years she’s got on me. Maybe winning that set made me lose a little bit of focus. She was figuring out my weaknesses and she did it pretty damn quick. Too damn quick.”
In the men’s bronze medal match, Gael Gosse (NCL) easily beat teammate Yann Lancrenon (NCL) 3-0 while.
Claire Faucompre (NCL) took the women’s bronze after a 3-1 over PNG’s Sheila Morove.