The annual round of the Under 16 event in the Anglo-Scottish tournament series took place recently at the Tyneside Badminton Centre. Eight counties from either side of the border took part over the two days. The Northumberland team was augmented by reinforcements from Durham but also had to bring in a couple of overage players, which meant that some matches had to be conceded.
Northumberland had a difficult start against a strong Cheshire team but the initial exchanges were promising with three very close mixed doubles. However, it was only the third pairing of Alex Jay and Rachel Bogan (only under 12 but clearly very promising) who took the decider to chalk up the win. All six singles then went to Cheshire before a strong performance from the first girls’ doubles pair of Sarah Wilson and Emily Harrison scored a second point with a very good win. Murray Wright and Matthew Charteries had a good win at boys’ doubles before Cheshire wrapped up the match 12-3.
Next came Yorkshire, always difficult opponents. The Tykes scored an 11-4 win but this does not do justice to the efforts of the Northumberland team which forced 9 of the 15 matches into tie-break third ends. Unfortunately, they could only win 3 of those through Jonathan Elsdon in the boys’ singles, Elsdon and Gyan Chadda in the doubles and Robyn Luckley in the girls’singles. This was a strong Yorkshire team which went on to win the overall event, so Northumberland’s team performance was quite encouraging.
Saturday afternoon’s matches were both thought to be eminently winnable and so it proved. There was a particularly strong performance against Cumbria ending in a 10-5 win. The Wilson/Elsdon and Harrison/Chadda pairings got Northumberland going with good two-end wins in the mixed. This was followed up with singles victories from Lexie Howard, Anna Railton, Murray Wright and Matty Charteries and then four more wins at level doubles. Earlier results suggested that the match against Borders would be very tight and indeed it was. This time it was the boys that took the team through to the win, with Elsdon, Wright and Jamie Tinnion scoring singles success, followed up by two wins at boys’ doubles. This had built on the two mixed wins from Howard/Charteries and Bogan/Jay. There was a particularly good win at girls’ singles from Sarah Wilson: facing an opponent who was determined to run down and return just about everything, she just kept to a perfect length and accuracy and eventually triumphed 15-9, 15-12: it was a near-perfect display of patient match play. A very close match eventually went to Northumberland by the closest margin, 8-7. So there had been two wins and two losses in the first day, which was probably about as good as could have been expected.
Day two had three matches against teams from north of the border. First up was Lanarkshire but the going was going to be tougher as team changes meant the inclusion of two overage players and the unfortunate need to concede more games. Harrison and Chadda got off to a strong start with an excellent win in the top mixed and Wilson and Elsdon followed this up with very good singles wins. After that, only Chadda and Elsdon could score a win in their boys’ doubles. Jamie Tinnion merits a strong mention for an excellent effort at second singles against a much more experienced (and feisty) opponent, coming back to take the second end 15-9 but going down 7-3 in the tie-break after a great struggle. The match was lost 4-11.
Lothian are always strong competitors and usually challenge Yorkshire for the overall trophy. There were two good wins for Wilson/Elsdon and Chadda/Elsdon in their doubles but the match was lost 3-12. And so to the final match against West of Scotland. Despite having to concede four matches, Northumberland were undaunted and won all but one of the other games to score a 10-5 victory. Winning all six singles was great and it was particularly satisfying to see the younger members fighting so hard for their wins: Jay winning a very close three-ender and Tinnion coming back from the dead to win his game.
With three wins from their seven matches, Northumberland finished in 5th place overall. This was a pretty respectable performance against several traditionally-strong counties. The team was: Anna Railton, Emily Harrison, Lexie Howard, Rachel Bogan, Robyn Luckley, Sarah Bambrick and Sarah Wilson; Alex Jay, David Murray, Gyan Chadda, Jamie Tinnion, Jonathan Elsdon, Matthew Charteries, Murray Wright, Philip Pahatouridis.
Well done to them all – but particularly to the younger players who all contributed strongly!