NBA Volunteer Awards

The NBA End of Season Function took place for the first time since 2019, at Newcastle Cricket Club in Jesmond on Friday 20th May.  NBA Volunteer Awards were presented to 2 very worthy recipients. Ian Little of Yehlex Ltd, who very kindly once again provided the trophies, presented the awards to Viv Harmer (for services to Badminton in Northumberland) and to Bob Pearson, current President of Northumberland Badminton Association (for longstanding service to Badminton in Northumberland). Both award winners are pictured with Ian.

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Championship Here We Come!

What a weekend for the senior county first team as they made it through the Division 1 Play-Offs placing second behind Kent with two excellent 7-4 wins over Dorset and Lanarkshire.

Having been on tenterhooks for a fortnight whilst waiting for Badminton England to rule on the un-played fixtures in Division 1 North, the county first team were delighted to learn that they had indeed made second spot behind Lanarkshire, by a point from Lothian. That meant a trip to Milton Keynes for the Division 1 Play-Offs against Lanark and the top two from Division 1 South, Kent and Dorset.

The last time Northumberland made the Play-Offs in season 2008-09, they played out three 5-5 draws before missing out, being placed third on countback. With the format now best of 11, as in the regular season, at least that fate couldn’t befall them again! Kent would likely be the strongest team having averaged 9-2 per match no less, but with Dorset roughly on a par and our regular season loss to Lanark only having been by 6-5, hopes were high.

Back Row:- Rachel Frobisher, Ryan Jelley, Eddie Burgess, James Anderson: Front Row:- Catherine Thomas, Eleanor Laws, Lauren Young, Garrylee McMullen, Lucy Dodd: Kneeling:- Philip Pahatouridis

KENT

The weekend opened against Kent who were weaker than expected, missing Rory Easton, representing England in the Europeans the following week, and top ladies’ singles player Paige Butler. Another England junior was present though in Max Flynn, flown in from Germany the night before, and they were still likely to prove too strong overall.

A good win from Philip Pahatouridis at second string was all there was to show from the men’s singles, James Anderson, for once, unable to convert his customary three-ender! The highlight was 15-year-old Lucy Dodd who battled strongly against a higher graded player in Holly Williams, eventually prevailing 15-21, 22-20, 21-16.

Despite three more 3-setters that was the limit of their success although especial mention should go to James and Ryan Jelley, only just shaded 24-22 in the third. Only two points to show then and a strong performance needed in the afternoon against Dorset to redress the balance.

DORSET

Garrylee McMullen got us off to a great start defeating the A graded Patrick Adair in straight sets, backed up by Philip with another two-set win. Lucy was again successful, this time defeating the B graded Sophie Males, ranked 26 in England, in two sets to leave us leading 3-2.

Both the men’s and ladies’ doubles were split one each, Garrylee and Philip winning at top string and Lucy and Lauren Young coming from a set down at top string to win 16 in the third. Both our second pairs were competitive taking a set each but were overcome in the third to leave the lead at 5-4 and all on the mixed.

Philip was drafted in for his third game of the match and he and Lauren duly obliged in two sets for the match victory. Points are everything in this format though and Ed Burgess and Rachel Frobisher had meanwhile taken their opening set only to be pegged back at 1-set all. Several clear winners from Ed combined with good net play from Rachel and some excellent retrieving was to see them home 21-12 for a vital extra point and a final score of 7-4 to get us right back in it.

Kent had meanwhile beaten Lanark 7-4 so the scores at the end of the day read Kent 16. Lanark 10, Northumberland 9 and Dorset 9. Thus, we needed a 6-5 win over Lanark to draw level with them but we would go through on that result providing Kent took their expected win against Dorset.

LANARKSHIRE

Sunday dawned and we knew we needed a strong start in the singles to stand a chance of victory. Garrylee was up against Scottish number 2 Danny Robson and just lost a tight opening set 21-17. Philip had meanwhile taken his opener to 18 and comfortably ran out a winner in the second to get us on the scoreboard. Garrylee had meanwhile established control in the forecourt and battled back to level at one set all and James had started by taking his opening set 21-19.

An excellent start by Garrylee in the decider, again controlling the forecourt saw him change ends well ahead and he ran out a comfortable winner 21-10. James was meanwhile close to victory but Callum MacMillan was rallying well and was to just edge the second set 24-22. Undeterred, James continued to apply himself in the decider which was just as close with neither player managing to get a run of points to establish a telling lead, but James changed ends 11-9 to the good. The game remained close but James got to 19 first only for MacMillan to once again level. James continued to keep a good length and cover the court well though and he held on for victory 21-19.

Lucy Dodd had meanwhile started against Scottish No 5 Toni Woods who she had lost to in straight sets in the regular season match. Some excellent court coverage backed by her determination to get just one more shuttle back saw her to game point but Woods was to level at 20-all. A cross-court winner got Lucy to 21 before a sliced drop from Woods went just wide with Lucy again covering at full stretch to give her the opener 22-20.

Lucy maintained her level in the second set but this time Woods used her experience to just edge it by the same score as the opener to level at one set all. Could Lucy get over that disappointment? You bet she could, with her deep high serving keeping her opponents slice at bay, she continued to rally strongly to get her nose ahead at the change of ends. More excellent retrieving saw her maintain her lead and she held on well to take the decider 21-17 amidst much excitement on the Northumberland bench!

What a start to the match! 4-0 the lead then, two more needed and surely a chance for a famous victory? Lanark fought back strongly with their top men’s pair featuring Scottish No 6 Jack MacGregor and the experienced Keith Turnbull. who had been unbeaten during the regular season, playing particularly well to defeat Garrylee and Philip. With more players with international tournament experience to call upon in Kirsten Berry and Robert Dunn, the tide was turning and despite us competing well the score was levelled at 4-all.

Next it was the turn of second ladies pair Catherine Thomas and Eleanor Laws to take centre stage and they made a great start taking their opening set 21-6. The second set was much more competitive though and they were just edged out 21-19 to set up a decider.

They continued to attack in their preferred style with Cat trying to dictate the play hitting down from the back court and Elle pressing the net for the winner. The lead changed hands several times before a net winner saw them hand in at 19-all. Cool serving from Eleanor saw them to match point and a smash returned wide and they were home. Cue more celebrations from team and supporters alike!

5-4 then and all on the mixed, one needed for victory and to clinch promotion. Could we repeat the heroics of the previous day against Dorset? Philip and Lauren started well and secured their opening set 21-18, closely followed by Ed and Rachel at 21-16.

Back came the Scots again, Dunn and Berry taking the second set comfortably against Phil and Loz and Ed and Rachel were also pegged back at 1-set all, to set up two crucial deciding sets.

Phil and Loz got it together at the start of the third and it was nip and tuck throughout until Dunn and Berry edged ahead and got to match point at 20-18. A cross court winner from the forecourt by Phil kept us in it at 19-20 and an error at the net and we were level at 20-all. Another tight serve saw a forecourt push wide from the Scots and we were in turn at match point. Another push cut out by Phil for a cross court winner and we were home! Cue even wilder celebrations from one and all.

Ed and Rachel had meanwhile edged ahead in their decider and were leading 16-12. Somehow they managed to maintain their concentration despite all the drama on the court next to them and they held on to take it 21-18 to ‘ice the cake’ on a famous 7-4 win!

Kent had meanwhile defeated Dorset 7-4 to leave the final positions Kent on 23, Northumberland on 16, Lanark 14 and Dorset 13. Promotion to the Championship, the second tier in the SCC behind the Premiership, duly secured and what a challenge that will be against the likes of Notts, Essex, Glasgow & North Strathclyde et al. Follow this link for complete results BADMINTON England – Senior County Championships – Regional Divisions 2021-22 – General (tournamentsoftware.com)

The team (those not already in the shower!) with their medals

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U19 Silver Clean Sweep

There was a small but quality entry in the U19 Silver, the first time we have staged a BE Silver tournament in this age group, and there was to be much success for the locals. Tim Bodani won the singles and the doubles with James Dodd but was prevented from making it a treble by Lucy Dodd and Cumbria’s Dan Kemp who won the mixed and Lucy also won the singles without the loss of a set. Ellen Davison was also victorious in the ladies’ doubles with Molly Whitaker from Yorkshire and was runner-up with Tom Hunt in the mixed.

Both Tim Bodani, seeded 3/4, and Tom Hunt won their groups but the highlight was to be group F where every game played went to 3 sets and there were two locals vying for the top spot in Ryan Cockett and Jamie Grant but in the end it was to be Matthew Ellis from Surrey who prevailed on count-back on points difference.

Tim then overcame Tom in the quarter-final before defeating Cumbria’s Dan Kemp in the semi, 21-17 in the third, and Yorkshire’s Ethan Fox in the final in straight sets.

Tim Bodani & James Dodd – Men’s Doubles winners

Tim was to have more success in the doubles when he and James Dodd won their group without the loss of a set before taking the final comfortably in two sets. Lucy Dodd was meanwhile carrying all before her in the singles taking it comfortably without the loss of a set and Ellen Davison, partnered by Molly Whitaker from Yorkshire, was also a comfortable winner in the ladies doubles, defeating Charlotte Graham and Yorkshire’s Yawei Li in the final.

Ellen Davison & Molly Whitaker – Ladies Doubles Champions

The mixed had looked on paper to be the closest event of the day and it did not disappoint. The pick of the early games saw Tim and Charlotte just miss out to Ben & Molly Whitaker 21-16, 22-24, 19-21 and, unfortunately for Tim, an Achilles problem was then to force him to withdraw. Tom Hunt and Ellen beat the Whitakers in 3 sets before losing to Dan Kemp and Lucy Dodd setting up an intriguing finale between the latter two.

Dan and Lucy won the first before just being edged out 25-23 in the second. Back they came and, despite spirited resistance from the Yorkies, they held on to take the decider to 16 which meant Tom and Ellen were runners-up.

Lucy Dodd & Dan Kemp

With only Tim and James being out of this age group next year, it surely bodes well for continuing with U19 Silvers in future years.

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First Team on tenterhooks

With Staffordshire withdrawing from the final weekend of the SCC season, the final positions in Division 1 North are still to be resolved. The top two qualify for the play-offs with the top two from Division 1 South to determine which two of the four gain promotion to the Championship and how the un-played matches are treated will materially affect who is in the top two. The SCC Management Group will be meeting on Monday 11th April to determine the official outcome in this, and a number of other divisions/sections.

The 1st team entered the weekend at Leeds University with three matches to negotiate though, first on Saturday against Notts 2, fighting to avoid relegation and fellow play-off hopefuls Oxfordshire and then Yorkshire 3 on Sunday morning, a fixture that has always proved to be close over the years.

Back row: Eddie Burgess, Jamie Tinnion, Rachel Frobisher, James Anderson, Garrylee McMullen. Front row: Philip Pahatouridis, Catherine Thomas, Eleanor Laws, Lauren Young and Lucy Dodd

James Anderson and Lucy Dodd got us underway against Notts 2 but we still trailed 3-2 after the singles despite three-set efforts form the others. Garrylee McMullen and Philip Pahatouridis soon made that 3-all but James and Eddie Burgess, playing together for the first time, lost out narrowly in the second mens 18-21, 23-21, 17-21 to restore Notts lead. The ladies were also split, Eleanor Laws and Catherine Thomas hanging on just to win 22-20 in the third to keep North in it at 5-4 down going into the mixed.

Eddie and Rachel Frobisher got theirs in two to level at 5-all but Philip and Lauren Young were just pipped 22-20, 21-19. Still, 5 points gained in the quest for the top two with a big challenge upcoming in the afternoon against Oxfordshire, second placed at the start of the day.

We made a great start in the singles securing a 4-1 lead, especial mention going to Jamie Tinnion victorious 21-19 in his deciding set. Garrylee and Philip secured the top string doubles in two and then James and Eddie Burgess could hardly have been closer in just edging theirs 21-19, 19-21, 21-19 for the victory at 6-1. It is individual rubbers that matter in this format though and both ladies triumphed in three before the mixed were split to give a final winning score of 9-2.

This set up an intriguing scenario going into the final matches on Sunday morning. If we could beat Yorkshire 3 by just 6-5 and Lothian only won their remaining fixture 8-3 then North could finish second and gain a place in the play-offs.

Never an easy game against Yorkshire but Garrylee, James and Lucy ensured we led after the singles 3-2 before Garrylee and Philip stretched that lead further with a straight sets win. In the level doubles, the men’s were split as were the ladies with the experience of Tracy Parker and Lucy Kidd (nee Milne) proving key at top string for Yorkshire, but this was balanced by another sterling effort from Cat and Elle who eventually got home 25-23 in the third!

Just the mixed to go, up a set in one, down a set in the other then level at one set all in both but it was not to be and Yorkshire 3 took both in the deciding set, running out winners 6-5.

So an excellent haul of 19 points from a possible 33, despite only one match win from three, but will it be enough? Lothian duly won their remaining fixture 8-3 to set up a tricky situation for the SCC Management Committee to adjudicate on.

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First win for seconds

The final weekend for the county senior second team was deprived of its’ final fixture when Staffordshire withdrew but that still left matches against Lancashire 4 and Notts 3 to contend with, the former were defeated 7-4 for their first win of the season and the latter could not have been closer but resulted in a 6-5 defeat.

The team fielded was the youngest team for many a year with Cambridge Uni student Finlay Smith making his senior debut, as did PC player Jack Tilbury. Indeed, pretty much the entire team were either still in the PC, or were graduates thereof, which was really pleasing to see.

Jack Thorpe, Lexie Howard, Finlay Smith, Robyn Luckley, Ellen Davison, Charlotte Graham, James Dodd, Mattie Short, Jack Tilbury

We trailed Lancashire 4 3-2 after the singles but that included a fine win for James Dodd 21-17 in the third and a comfortable straight sets win for Robyn Luckley. We could easily have led though with Mattie short going down narrowly 21-19, 20-22, 21-15 and Ellen Davison even closer, just being edged out 22-20 in the third.

James then combined well with Finlay in recovering from a set down to take the top string doubles, also 17 in the third. With Ellen Davison and Robyn Luckley, and Lexie Howard and Charlotte Graham, taking both ladies doubles and the second men’s being conceded the match was won before Lexie and Newcastle Uni student Jack Thorpe took the second mixed for a final score of 7-4 and a first win of the season.

The afternoon fixture against Notts 3 started well for North with Finlay a comfortable winner in two sets and James Dodd produced another combative performance in taking his match 21-17 in the third and Ellen recovered well after losing a tight opening set to win 11 and 10 for a lead of 3-2 going into the doubles.

Only two wins could be found though, both by Charlotte, with Lexie in the ladies and Jack Tilbury in the mixed for a final score of 6-5 to Notts. Nevertheless, twelve points on the day was an excellent return for the team and should leave them 4th or 5th out of 8 in the Division 3 North table depending upon how the un-played fixtures are treated which is subject to review by the SCC Management Committee.

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Gold Success for Lucy Dodd

Lucy has just had a successful weekend at the u17 Milton Keynes Gold, winning the girls doubles with partner Matilda Franklin (Notts). The girls were seeded 2 and comfortably won their group, which put them in the semi finals. After a slightly nervous start which led to a 21:18 first end loss in the semi final, they turned things round winning the next two ends 21:11 21:10.

In the final they played No 1 seeds Grace Sachdeva from Yorkshire and Brooke Stalker from Scotland, both regular winners on the Junior Gold circuit. After going 10:2 down at the start of the first end, Lucy and Matilda re-grouped and steadily chipped away at their opponents’ lead, before levelling at 19 all and then closing out a 21:19 win. As was to be expected Grace and Brooke came back fighting and won a close second end 21:17. In the third end Lucy and Matilda played well to get to 11:9 at the change and then pulled away, eventually claiming the end 21:16 and their first big win together.

In the singles Lucy came runner up in her Gold Star group, losing in 3 ends to a strong Irish player (Michelle Shocan) who was eventually runner-up in the singles.

In the mixed doubles Lucy and partner Dan Kemp from Cumbria had a tough draw, losing in 3 ends to a strong Irish pair for the second tournament in a row.

Very well done, Lucy!!!

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Sri Lankan Star excels

The Northumberland Senior Gold, part of the Badminton England Senior Gold Circuit, returned to the calendar for the first time since 2019. The first Gold event of 2022 attracted a bumper entry of 76, featuring many premiership players, particularly from Middlesex and Sussex. The leading light though had to be world ranked Sri Lankan Dinuka Karunaratne who emerged a double champion and barely put a foot wrong all weekend.

The men’s singles boasted 6 A grade players and 8 ranked in the top 50 in the country with top locals seeded, Philip Pahatouridis ‘3/4’ and Garrylee McMullen 5/8. The latter made the quarter final before losing to top seed Ben Muir from Hampshire in two tight sets 21-18, 21-17. Pahatouridis went one better in beating Yorkshire’s Jamie Bonsels in the quarter final in three sets before going down to second seed Adam Dolman in the semi in three.

Karunaratne had meanwhile made serene progress to the semi final from his 5/8 seeding, this due to insufficient English tournament results to give him a higher ranking, where he duly dispatched the top seed in straight sets, some of his retrieving leaving Muir shaking his head in disbelief. That combined with an immaculate length made him a cut above the field. The final followed a similar course with Adam Dolman also going down in straight sets.

The ladies’ singles should have been the tale of two Allens, the top seed Rosemary from Essex and second seed Jessica from Leicestershire. Aimee Whiteman from Wales had different ideas though, making the semi-final by beating ‘3/4’ seed Evelyn Yu and Scottish number 3 Basia Grodynska, both in 3 sets. There she met Rosemary Allen and, despite dropping the opening set, recovered to take that in three also.

Whiteman made a storming start to the final taking the opening set to 9 before Jessica Allen gradually worked her way back into the match to level at one set all. She managed to keep her nose in front throughout the decider, taking the win 21-18.

The men’s doubles provided a further showcase for Karunaratne’s talents where, as top seed with Robert Golding from Middlesex, he made the final without losing a set. Fellow Middlesex teammates Angus Pedersen and Wai Lok Poon also made the final having taken out second seeds Alex Marritt and Nathan Rossiter from Yorkshire en route but they could make little headway either which meant the Sri Lankan did not lose a set all weekend!

Rosemary Allen made up for her disappointment in the singles by taking the doubles. Partnered by Oxford’s Natalia Mitchell she made the final without the loss of a set and the final itself was to be no different as Katherine Arksey from Yorkshire and Sophie Watson form Leicestershire got close but went down 21-18, 21-19.

The mixed provided the closest contest with Pedersen and Zoe Hallam, also of Middlesex, just shading it against Rossiter and Arksey 21-16, 17-21, 25-23! This after Rossiter and Arksey had only just got he better of locals Philip Pahatouridis and Fay Andrews in an earlier round, 28-26 in the third.

An excellent standard throughout, it is to be hoped Northumberland can stage another Gold to start 2023.

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North East Badminton Newsletter

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3 Bronzes for Lucy at U15 Nationals

Buoyed up by her recent international selection, Lucy Dodd travelled down to Milton Keynes last weekend for the Under 15 Nationals and came back home with three bronze medals.  What a great performance!

In the girls’ singles, Lucy outperformed her 5/8 seeding level by winning her group and two more knockout games to reach the semi-final, where she lost 19 and 12 to the second seed, Grace Sachdeva, from Yorkshire.  With a relatively new partner in the level doubles, she was seeded at 3/4 but again made it to the semis, where she lost 12 and 15 to the eventual winners.  The mixed doubles event was played as a straight knockout.  Partnering Daniel Kemp from Cumbria, Lucy was again seeded to reach the semis and that was what she and Dan achieved, losing to the second seeds.

There had been a lot of matches to pack into the weekend, probably too many.  But what excellent results!  And on top of that, Lucy has been selected to go with the England team to the 8 Nations Team tournament at Nantes in France in mid-December.  The very best of luck!

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Local Success at Masters

After the hiatus caused by Covid last year, the Tyneside Badminton Centre hosted the 21st annual Northumberland Masters Tournament last weekend. Players came from counties as far afield as Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Kent and Essex and also from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Most Masters tournaments have been suffering withdrawals due to injury as players resume post the covid break and Northumberland’s was to be no exception with an original entry of some 112 players being whittled down to 92 in the end.

Alison Thompson and Daniel Mulholland won the Over50/Over55 mixed doubles but not without some battles along the way, notably in the semi-final against Alison’s brother Kevin Maughn now of Hertfordshire and Linda Riley of Yorkshire, when they just edged it 19-21, 21-14, 21-19. In the final they took on Ian Young from Northern Ireland and Cathie Warrener of Yorkshire and managed to keep their noses in front, virtually throughout, emerging victorious 21-18, 21-19.

Other local success came for Grahame Moscrop who, partnered by Val O’Neill from Avon, came runner-up in the Over70 mixed, losing out in the fina to top seeds Jim Garrett (Kent) and Angela Brown (Lancs). Support from the tournament ‘regulars’ was as good as ever, at least from those that were fit(!), however the worrying trend of the lack of younger entries continues with less than 10 under the over50 mark.

More to follow…

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