Over the last weekend of January, the Northumberland U13 team took part in the annual U13 Anglo Scottish badminton tournament at the Tyneside Badminton Centre. In all, five English and Scottish counties played over the course of two days. The Northumberland team consisted of Matthew Jefferson, Adam Secker, Tom Jurowski (Saturday only), Ben Gilroy (Sunday only), Ollie Beale, Stephen Glennie, Reema Rajeev, Cookie Prapunwong, Sophie Cockett, Jasmine Osborn, Fay Prapunwong and Sara Haddi.
They were managed by Gillian Cockett and this is her report. For the Northumberland team, the first day of the tournament involved some very tough matches as they were due to play two Scottish teams, Clyde and Lothian, who between them had brought most of the top players in Scotland at this age group, and Yorkshire who generally bring a very strong team.
Northumberland found Clyde hard to beat in all of their games, and ended up losing 15-0, although they managed to get very respectable scores in many of the matches. The relative inexperience of Jasmine and Sara didn’t show as the girls did really well to take a game off their third girls’ doubles pair, eventually losing 16-21, 21-10, 15-6.
The next match was against Yorkshire which Northumberland lost 12-3, but had some very closely fought games between the two teams. Despite some initial nerves, Fay who was playing her first match for the county at only 9 years old, partnered with Stephen and the pair did amazingly well to beat the third mixed doubles pair 21-17, 11-21, 15-12 in an exciting match. Sara again showed her natural ability and determination to beat her opponent in an extremely close girl’s singles match 21-20, 21-20. Another player who did well in his singles match was Ollie Beale, beating his opponent 21-14, 15-21, 15-13 in yet another nail-biting match. Reema and Cookie got good scores against a strong first pair, eventually losing 18-21, 7-21. Playing with Fay, Sara had yet another 21-20 game in her girls’ doubles game, but despite their best efforts, the girls eventually lost the game 21-20, 15-21, 8-15. Stephen and Ollie put up a good fight against the third boys doubles pair but lost out 13-21, 21-19, 12-15.
After two hard matches on Saturday, Northumberland then had to play the eventual winners of the competition, Lothian, who had brought 4 of the top 6 girls in Scotland in this age group, as well as, 3 of the top 5 boys. Jude and Sara did really well to beat the second mixed doubles pair in straight sets, 21-20, 21-18. This was the fifth game that Sara had played that finished 21-20! Tom showed his determination and managed to beat his opponent in the boys’ singles 21-19, 21-15. In the end, Northumberland lost the match 12-3 against a very strong team, although there were many games in which Northumberland came close to winning. Sophie and Cookie came close to beating the second girls’ doubles pair, eventually losing 21-16, 15-21, 11-15, and Stephen and Ollie lost a closely fought encounter with the third boys’ doubles pair, losing 18-21, 21-13, 8-15.
After a good night’s sleep, the Northumberland team played Borders on Sunday morning which was to be the closest match of the weekend. In the mixed doubles, Northumberland won 1 of the 3 games on offer; Stephen and Cookie did well to beat the second mixed pair 21-20, 14-21, 15-14 in an exceedingly close game. Next up were the girls’ singles, and Jasmine and Sara both showed their strength with convincing wins to even the match up 3-3. In the boys singles, only Jude was able to win his game, in an exciting match, 21-18, 18-21, 15-13 to make the score 5-4 to Borders. Reema and Cookie did well to win their girls doubles 21-19, 21-17. The last 3 games to be played were the boys’ doubles, and the match score was 6-6 to make for an exciting finish and all of the games proved to be very competitive. Matthew and Adam played well but were unlucky to lose their game 20-21, 17-21, and Stephen and Ollie also lost a close match 20-21, 15-20. To finish the match, Jude and Ben had an excellent game, winning 17-21, 21-20, 15-11, which gave a final score of 8-7 to Borders in a match with many closely fought games.
Although many of the Northumberland players were quite inexperienced at playing badminton at this level, and some were playing their first matches for the county, they more than made up for it with lots of enthusiasm and determination throughout the weekend, and showed much promise for the future.