This was the first competitive event of the season and came very early this year, putting all the players under quite a bit of pressure to perform, with several of them fresh from the summer break. Overall it was a very enjoyable but challenging weekend, for players and managers alike. Northumberland had a young and relatively inexperienced team but they produced some excellent badminton in some very tough games. All the players were very competitive, worked hard for every point and had a fantastic team spirit: as always, they were a credit to Northumberland. County coaches Rob Wetherell and Martin Fagan were very positive about the performances that they saw.
The tournament featured eight teams from both sides of the border. Each team played each other over 15 matches, with 3 matches from each of the five disciplines. Each match was played over two ends with a third end decider to 7 if necessary.
Northumberland’s team, which was managed by Christine Railton and Andrea Skeoch, was:
Boys: Andrew Hogg, George Moran, Alex Jay, Jamie Tinnion, Andrew Howard, Andrew Liang and Melvin Cherian
Girls: Emily Harrison, Lexie Howard (retired sick), Anna Railton, Rachel Bogan, Abby Grogan and Sarah Bambrick
Northumberland v Cheshire: Lost 3-12
A difficult opening match against a strong Cheshire team. Lexie and Alex opened with a close first end where they were just beaten to 14. They worked hard but couldn’t claim the final end. Emily played strongly to secure a comfortable victory in two ends in the top girls’ singles and Andrew Hogg, welcomed into the team for his first match with us, produced a great two-end win. Jamie provided the third win, taking the close decider 7-5. George was unlucky to go down 3-7 in his decider. Several of the level doubles matches were close but we could not take any of them.
Northumberland v Yorkshire: Lost 3-12
Sadly Lexie had to retire from the day due to illness so Northumberland had to rejig the team and to forfeit a girls’ doubles game. There were some very close games and the overall score did not reflect how close some of the games were. Emily lost out in the third end of her singles after an extremely competitive performance and then again, with Rachel in doubles, she went down 5-7 in the decider: very tough! Alex and Jamie had more success and won their game with some great shots, but needed another close decider. Andrew Hogg again came through with a singles victory against Yorkshire’s very promising number one.
Northumberland v Cumbria: Lost 6½-8½
With both Northumberland and Cumbria being a girl short, we split the points for one of the doubles. The remaining games were hard fought and Northumberland were unlucky to lose the match after all four of the three-enders went to Cumbria by small margins. George and Melvin delivered some excellent shots to win their game in 2 ends as did Anna and Alex in their mixed game. The two Andrews played a great doubles game that they won in two close ends. Emily had a good singles win but Abby was very unlucky not to win her game, just losing to 5 in the last end but playing with true determination.
Northumberland v Borders: Won 12½-2½
The last match on Saturday was against Borders and we again had to split the points being a girl down. The team produced a fine victory playing some excellent badminton. Sarah and Melvin won convincingly in two ends with some great shots and they were followed by Rachel and Andrew Howard who worked very well together to produce another good win. Anna and Alex had a tougher match at top mixed but came through in the decider to record the win. Anna went on to comfortably win her singles game in two ends as did George. Abby played a great game and didn’t allow a disputed call to knock her confidence going on to win well. The boys’ doubles pairings all scored fine wins.
Northumberland v Lanark: Lost 5½-9½
We started off on Sunday with what turned into quite a close encounter against Lanarkshire. It was a very competitive match, despite Northumberland losing all three of the opening mixed doubles, with Melvin and Sarah only going down by the odd point in their three-ender. There were excellent wins by Emily, Jamie and Abby in their singles, the latter with a 7-3 third set decider. Andrew Liang had replaced Andrew Howard for Sunday and, paired with Andrew Hogg, they had a tight match in the boys’ doubles, eventually losing 7-5 in the decider. Alex and Jamie had a very good win. If just three points had gone the other way in the three-enders, we could have drawn the match – it was that close!
Northumberland v Lothian: Lost 0-15
Sunday’s second game was a very tough one against Lothian, who later emerged as the overall winners. Whilst we only managed to win one end overall, there were some very good games in the singles, with strong performances from both of our number ones against strong Lothian opponents – Andrew Hogg only going down to 13 in both ends after some excellent close-fought rallies. Jamie went even closer in his singles, eventually losing 2-7 in the third end.
Northumberland v West of Scotland: Won 9½-5½
The team ended a tough weekend on an excellent winning note. Melvin and Sarah had a good win at third mixed after the other two pairs had got very close. There was another good win for Andrew Hogg, winning 7-4 in the third set of a hard-fought match: an excellent overall performance from him in his first outing for Northumberland, particularly having to play at number one in the absence of Ashraf Alam. Emily and Rachel scored another good doubles win and Abby and Sarah only just missed out, going down 3-7 in the third end.
Overall, Northumberland finished in 6th position of the 8 teams – and we were not far off coming 4th. There was lots for the coaches to work on in the coming season but equally there was much to be pleased with. Well done to the whole team – and many thanks to Christine and Andrea and to the supporting parents.