Northumberland’s U18s continued their strong start to the Shires League season with an impressive 17-3 victory over North rivals Cumbria, at Tyneside Badminton Centre in early December.
Northumberland’s team were: Charlotte Graham, Eve Beechinor-Collins, Natalie Ho, Teeda Prapunwong, Dominic Wilson-Baker, Jai Nayyar, Matty Grant and Sonny Ho.
Unfortunately, Cumbria suffered a very late withdrawal when their strongest boy succumbed to illness, meaning that the visitors had to concede four matches. The remaining mixed doubles matches were dominated by the home team, with Charlotte & Sonny taking the top seeded match by 21-14, 21-13, followed by good wins for Natalie & Jai (21-11, 21-12) and Teeda & Matty by two ends of 21-18 each. However, the remaining three Cumbrian boys proved to be formidable opposition in the singles, with Matty being Northumberland’s only victor, coming through an energetic encounter 21-17, 21-12 against Joseph Alderson.
Northumberland dominated in the girls’ singles. Convincing two-end wins for both Charlotte and Natalie, were followed by a hard fought match in which Teeda fought back impressively against Medhini Varma, taking the deciding end 21-15 and gaining her first singles victory at this level in the process. Also recording her first singles victory for Northumberland was a rapidly improving Eve. She took a powerful victory against Cumbria’s Amy Paul, 21-16, 21-17 to give a confidence boosting clean sweep for Northumberland’s girls.
Further dominance was evident in the level doubles. Both of North’s boys’ pairings of Dominic & Sonny and Jai & Matty were excellent against Cumbria’s remaining top pair of Alderson & Pullan. A convincing 21-15, 21-16 victory by the dominant Dom & Sonny pairing was followed by a thrilling three-ender, featuring a gritty performance by Jai & Matty to chalk up their win 21-18, 16-21, 21-16.
In the girls’ doubles, Charlotte & Natalie sealed their individual day’s respective maximum four wins, without losing a set and combining well to win against both Cumbrian pairs. Teeda & Eve fought well, with much skill and resilience, to get close to Cumbria’s top pair (17-21, 18-21), but they did round off an overall excellent Northumberland display, winning 21-13, 21-12 in their second match.
This victory demonstrated a growing strength in depth among Northumberland’s juniors. They all competed well; showed great skill, energy and tactical awareness. They were all respectful, yet ruthless, and represented Northumberland with distinction. The team was grateful to Martin Fagan for providing coaching assistance.