Otago is ecstatic to have finished fourth.
Otago held its own against the dominant northerners to finish fourth in Auckland's Slazenger Cup this weekend.
While this is the second tier of New Zealand badminton, the competition nevertheless attracts a slew of elite players.
Otago began with a bruising 11-0 loss to North Harbour but rebounded with victories against Waitakere (7-4) and Wellington (6-5) to clinch a top-four finish.
In the semifinal, Auckland thrashed Otago 11-0.
For a time, a bronze-medal showdown with Waikato hung in the balance before Waikato prevailed 8-3.
Lucy Thomsen of Otago, who had previously stated that the team's objective was to finish in the top four, was proud of her squad's performance in light of the competition's strength.
"We didn't want to put the team under unnecessary strain, but we felt we were competent," Thomsen explained.
"We made the top four, and I believe we earned it."
Otago's 6-5 dramatic victory over Wellington was the highlight effort. At 4-4, the match was still up for grabs headed into the mixed doubles.
Claudia Smith and Josh Kellett of Otago were defeated, while Pingkan Polak and Ferdinand Kolimlim of Malaysia triumphed, bringing the score to 5-5 heading into the final mixed doubles.
Thomsen and Keirik Scilloux were under extreme strain, but they rallied admirably to clinch the tie.
"Everyone was screaming and yelling – it was an incredible scene," Thomsen explained.
"Both teams were observing, as were members of other teams. "
We won, and as we came off, everyone on the squad was ecstatic and so proud of what we'd accomplished."
Otago fought valiantly against an experienced Waikato side in the bronze-medal match.
Bradley Jackson got Otago off to a strong start with a three-set victory in men's singles, but Jake Dickson lost in three sets.
Polak and Thomsen won a three-setter in women's doubles, and Kolimlim and Polak won a straightforward mixed doubles match. Waikato, on the other hand, performed well enough in the other matches to secure the overall triumph.
Polak was the tournament's standout performer for Otago, winning eight of her twelve matches.
Thomsen predicted that nine of the ten Otago players will return in 2022, paving the way for another Slazenger Cup appearance.