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NEW ZEALANDERS CONFOUND AUS OPEN HANDICAPPER

New Zealand beach volleyballers Shaunna Polley and Julia Tilley have confounded the handicappers by dominating their pool on the opening day of the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast.

Polley and Tilley, New Zealand’s top female team, were given 14th seeding for this weekend’s event, despite strong form in New Zealand this summer.

“Today coming out there mentally we thought we had something to prove, being 14th seed, so we were really hungry to take that top spot,” Tilley said.

“It’s been a busy season so far in New Zealand, which has been really good prep for us.”

The New Zealanders found themselves drawn in the opening match against tournament fourth seeds, and home town favourites, Jordan and Justine Mowen.

Polley and Tilley had all the answers, winning 21-12, 21-18, and then convincingly won their remaining two pool matches.

Despite their success, the Polley-Tilley combination may soon be coming to an end.

“I’m planning on doing a year’s worth of travel in the States, so we’re still working out how it’s going to work out for us as a team, but it’s not looking all that good,” Polley said.

“This season we’re really just starting to peak, our base level is much higher, so we’re playing a lot more consistent, and winning against some top girls.”

There were few other surprises on the opening day of competition, played in mostly dry conditions under threatening skies.

Women’s top seeds, Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, comfortably topped their group, while the top men’s teams all emerged unscathed.

The Australian Championship finals will be played on Monday afternoon.