The annual “Restricted” tournament, restricted in the sense that only those people qualified for Northumberland can enter, formed the ‘A’ grade of the opening graded tournament following lockdown and attracted some 65 entries in total across all the grades. It was expected to be a battle royal across the three disciplines between the county’s two leading men, Garrylee McMullen and Philip Pahatouridis, but that was thwarted as they chose to play together in the men’s doubles!
The singles produced the expected group winners with Philip, Garrylee and the fast-improving Jamie Tinnion all getting through without the loss of a set. James Dodd was to get through as the best runner-up, his reward being a semi-final against Garrylee which the defending champion duly got in straight sets. James should be proud of his efforts though with two wins in his group where his fighting spirit was much in evidence, especially in overcoming Matthew Grant 21-17, 26-24.
Philip took the early advantage in the final leading 11-5 at the first set interval and extending that to 16-11 and then 19-14. Back game Garrylee though to level at 19 all before an excellent cross-court winner helped Philip across the line at 21-19.
Garrylee had looked a bit out of sorts in the first set, not least because of Philip’s capacity to get around the head in his backhand corner and still maintain a good length but the second was a totally different story with Garrylee romping to a 7-0 lead which had become 11-2 by the interval. Now he was finding his length better and he dropped into his normal methodical, relatively fault free rhythm. Another run of points and the set was over quickly at 21-3. Was that loss partly strategic to let Philip gather himself for the third? If it was, the third did not start much better for him with Garrylee rapidly reaching an 8-2 lead before Philip pegged him back to a degree to trail 11-6 at the change of ends. That lead immediately stretched to 14-6 and there was no way back for Philip and Garrylee retained his title.
The mixed doubles final saw Garrylee paired with Lauren Young and Philip with Rachel Frobisher in a repeat of the last mixed final played in 2019. With all four players knowing each other’s games so well it was always going to be close but Philip and Rachel it was who managed to keep their noses ahead in both sets to gain revenge for their defat from that year.
The ladies’ doubles featured some of the matches of the day with all four pairs in the A/B group producing some really competitive play but it was to produce new champions in Lauren Young and Robyn Luckley. The highlight of the earlier games was Rachel Frobisher and Kate McGill, former champions both, although not together, emerging victorious over the county’s top two juniors in Ellen Davison and Lucy Dodd, the latter fresh from her England debut at U15 level. Kate and Rachel just edged the first 21-19 only for the youngsters to rally and take the second to 15. A close decider was forecast and it did not disappoint with Kate and Rachel holding on at the death to clinch it 22-20. That set up a great deciding match against Robyn and Loz but they, in turn, held on well to clinch it 21-18 in the third.
The group games of the men’s doubles produced three undefeated winners, all of whom did not lose a set. Ryan Jelley and Eddie Burgess as defending champions and number 1 seeds had the bye in the semi-finals which left the other semi-final between Philip and Garrylee and three times former winners Malcom Lightbown and Steve Swan, the first of those wins being as long ago as 2003! Youth was to overcome experience on this occasion with Philip and Garrylee taking it in two sets, despite a scare in the first which they only got 21-19.
The final was to see more of the same and try as they might, Ryan and Eddie could not make any serious headway although they were much closer in the second before being edged out 21-19.
Two wins each then for the big two and doubtless more battles to come in the future.
Full Results: –
Men’s Singles: – Garrylee McMullen beat Philip Pahatouridis 19-21, 21-3, 21-9
Men’s Doubles: – Garrylee McMullen & Philip Pahatouridis beat Eddie Burgess & Ryan Jelley
Ladies Doubles: – Robyn Luckley & Lauren Young beat Rachel Frobisher & Kate McGill
21-16, 19-21, 21-18;
Mixed Doubles: – Philip Pahatouridis & Rachel Frobisher beat Garrylee McMullen & Lauren Young 21-18, 21-16.