The Under 12 round in the series of Anglo-Scottish team tournaments was hosted this weekend by Northumberland at the Tyneside Badminton Centre. It proved to be a difficult baptism to the world of county team events for the home team, most of whom had come from the recently-inaugurated Futures session run by the county on Friday evenings.
The team, managed by Richard Taylor and Karen Davison, was
Ellen Davison, Lucy Dodd, Charlotte Graham, Katrina Ho, Jude Lapworth (guesting from Durham), Naomi Silver and Amy Ward; Tim Bodani, Ollie Bruce, James Dodd, Jamie Grant, Matthew Joyce, Matty Stienlet, Alex Sutherland, Ben Thorpe, Jack Tilbury and Xuehan Zhang.
This was an extremely young and inexperienced team but they were largely undaunted by the stronger teams that they had to play over the two days and they seemed to emerge from the weekend keen to get into further competition and to build on what they had now learned.
Their first match saw them face Lanarkshire and they shot off to a 3-nil lead after the initial mixed doubles matches with wins for the pairings of Jude & James, Amy & Jack and Katrina & Matty. Unfortunately, the tide turned with the singles, all six of which were lost. Tim came very close in the top boys’ match: after fighting back to win the second end to 13, he pushed the match into a tie-break, first-to-seven end but went down 2-7. There was a recovery in the girls’ doubles, with Jude & Lucy and Ellen & Katrina scoring wins, but this left Northumberland needing to win all three boys’ doubles. Alex and Jamie fought really hard and took their match to the tie-breaker but lost 4-7. So Lanark won the match 10-5 overall.
Yorkshire were up next and as usual were very strong. The only area of success came in the girls’ singles where Jude and Amy had two excellent wins, the latter doing particularly well to come back after losing the first end and taking the tie-breaker by the narrowest margin. Jude & Lucy had a very close doubles match, losing 6-7 in the third end but Yorkshire took the overall match with ease by 13 games to 2. Their boys were particularly strong, having several players who already had quite a depth of experience.
The final match on Saturday was against Cumbria. This looked likely to be very close – and it was! Our girls did a great job to build on the mixed win for Katrina and Matty. Jude, Amy and Naomi all won their singles. Naomi, like Lucy, is still only eight but she showed great heart to fight back and take her match on the tie break. The girls’ doubles pairs of Charlotte & Jude, Amy & Ellen and Naomi & Katrina all won their games in two ends. Jamie had come very close in his boys’ singles but had lost the tie breaker, so going into the boys’ doubles the match score stood at 7-5 to Northumberland. Just one game needed! James and Tim fought hard but lost in two. Ollie and Matty got very close to taking their first end. But it was now 7-all. The third pair, Alex and Jamie, are both small but lack for nothing in fighting spirit and they showed this great quality to its maximum in their match, with all the watching players and parents getting drawn in by the excitement. The first end was just lost to 14. Could they turn it round? Well, not quite – it could hardly have been any closer but they lost the second end also to 14 and with it Cumbria took the match 8-7.
There had been some encouraging performances from such a young team, although the boys were struggling to record wins. The girls, however, were going well: Jude and Amy were well in credit and the others were backing them up well.
Sunday started with a match against the habitually-strong team from Lothian. We fought hard but found it difficult even to get into double figures and the match was lost without even winning an end. And so onto the final match against Borders. They pulled a bit of a “fast one” on us here by not revealing which games they were conceding (with two over-age girls) until after the mixed doubles had started: this meant that we had in effect wasted stronger players in meaningless matches, which might have swayed the final result (blame our manager here!). Anyway, it was 3-nil to Northumberland after the mixed and went to 5-1 with two good girls’ singles wins, both Amy and Lucy scoring three-end victories. Lucy’s was particularly well taken against a much bigger and stronger player. However, the boys, with our three new Sunday recruits, Xuehan, Matthew and Ben, could not add to our score in the singles and the match score went to 5-4. It was indeed going to be close! The first two girls’ doubles were both very tight. Amy & Ellen won theirs 7-3 in the tie break: Charlotte & Jude’s match was equally close but went the other way. Lucy & Naomi’s game was ours by concession. It would all be down to the boys’ doubles again. James & Tim got close but lost in two ends, as did Xuehan and Ben. Matty & Matthew lost the first end before coming back brilliantly to take the second. However, the tie breaker slipped away 3-7 and Borders had pipped us 8-7.
Nevertheless, it had been a great weekend – a real learning experience for a young team: one with quite a bit of talent, which we hope to see develop considerably over the years to come.
Finally, many thanks to Foong Tham and Julie Brown for organising another great event and to the many parents who came along and supported the team.