Over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd February the Northumberland under 13 team played in the annual Anglo Scottish tournament at Tyneside Badminton Centre. The team had a real mix of experience, with one player playing in the event for the 4th year and many others representing Northumberland for the very first time. It was also a young team, with 3 of the players still only aged 9. The team was jointly managed by Gillian Cockett and Joel Dodd and this is their report.
Unfortunately some of the regular attendees were unable to field teams this year and there were only 5 teams entered; Lothian, Lanarkshire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.
On the first day, Northumberland’s team was Ryan Cockett, Oliver Heron, Thomas Vicente, Adam Secker, Jake Stroud, Aaron Ikwue, Lucy Dodd, Naomi Silver, Hannah Zheng, Sarah White, Cookie Prapunwong and Sophie Cockett.
The first match was against Lothian, traditionally one of the stronger teams and so it proved again this time. Northumberland were 3:0 down after the mixed doubles, with Thomas and Hannah going close, losing in a 3rd end after winning the first end 21:15. Lucy Dodd comfortably won her singles match to narrow the gap, but Lothian were too strong in the other girls singles and the boys singles. Lucy and Naomi won a really close doubles, winning 15:13 in the third end, which proved to be the last win for Northumberland. Jake and Adam were unlucky not to take the match to a third end in their doubles, losing 21:8, 21:20. The overall score was a 13:2 win for Lothian.
Next up was Lanarkshire; a surprisingly strong team, who won the overall event. Northumberland again went 3:0 down after the mixed doubles, although Aaron and Cookie were really unlucky not to win, agonisingly losing 15:14 in a third end. Lucy comfortably won her singles against the Lanarkshire No.1, but the other girls singles matches went Lanarkshire’s way. Ryan pushed the Lanarkshire No.1 boy really hard, eventually losing 15:7 in a third end. Lucy and Naomi had a good win in the girls doubles, but the rest of the matches were Lanarkshire wins, as they proved too strong for Northumberland. The overall score was a 13:2 win for Lanarkshire.
The last match on Day 1 was against Yorkshire. Sarah and Adam played really well and recorded their first win of the weekend, winning 21:15, 21:13 in the mixed doubles. Jake and Sophie battled hard and were unlucky to lose 10:15 in the third end. Lucy battled hard to win a really close singles match against the Yorkshire No.1 (and her doubles partner in Badminton England events) 21:20, 21:20, in what was the match of the weekend. Yorkshire won the other girls singles games to take a 4:2 lead. Ryan and Oliver both won their singles, to record their first wins of the event, in both cases winning in 3 ends after close fought matches, leaving Yorkshire 5:4 ahead. Lucy and Naomi recovered well after losing the first end to win their doubles in 3 ends and Sophie and Cookie mounted a comeback in the second end of their match, but eventually lost to leave Yorkshire 7:5 up. Ryan and Oliver had a great win in the first boys doubles, winning 15:14 in a third end, which was followed up by Jake and Adam winning 21:17, 21:15. Aaron and Thomas played really well, but narrowly lost the final boys doubles, leaving Yorkshire 8:7 winners.
On Day 2 there were a number of changes to the Northumberland team, with Ben Gilroy, Matthew Jefferson, Ollie Beale, Reema Nair and Devika Biju joining the team.
The final match of the weekend was against Cumbria. Ben had a baptism of fire, playing alongside Cookie against the No.1 ranked under 13 boy in England and his partner in the mixed doubles; Ben and Cookie were not overawed, but the stronger Cumbria pair won. Cumbria won the other mixed doubles to go 3:0 up. Northumberland fared better in the singles matches, with wins for Lucy, Naomi, Ryan and Oliver, and Reema was very unlucky to lose her match 15:12 in a third end. At this stage in the match, the score was 5:4 to Cumbria with the doubles to play. Lucy and Naomi won their doubles to make it a clean sweep of wins over the weekend and this was followed up by a great win for Reema and Devika, holding on in a close second end to win 21:12, 21:19. Cumbria won the other girls doubles to make the match score 6:6. Unfortunately, Cumbria’s greater strength counted in the boys doubles, with Northumberland losing all 3 matches; this was only after Matthew and Ollie did everything they could to win before agonisingly losing a third end.
For many of the Northumberland team, this was their first experience of playing county badminton. All were a credit to Northumberland, fighting hard and with a great attitude on and off the court. Whilst the team ended up in 5th place, it was evident that all had progressed over the weekend and the experience will help them when playing similar events in the future.