Ponteland Academy’s Under 14 team, under the guidance of their coach Phil Hall, put in a great performance to finish in 3rd place in the finals of the National Junior League, which were held recently at the National Badminton Centre at Milton Keynes. This continued their progress of recent years, seeing them advance from 6th in 2016 and 5th last year.
Ponteland had won the Walbottle/Northumberland league to take them through to the national age-group finals. The other seven league winners were all from the south, south east and south west of England. This was a particularly good achievement for Ponteland, as most teams in the competition consisted of players from junior clubs who can draw from a wide area, whereas for Ponteland all the players come from the same school. The winners in the final were the Berkshire County junior squad and the runners-up were the Chew Valley club from Somerset.
The team was Eve Beechinor-Collins, Lucy Dodd, Dan Burn, Hugh Twelves, Jamie Grant and Ollie Edmondson. They had all started to play badminton as year 4’s or 5’s at the Ponteland schools when being coached by Phil Hall and almost all of them are members of the Northumberland Performance Centre, although they also still play regularly at Ponteland Leisure Centre.
In the group phase, the Ponteland youngsters won five-nil against Chalfont Eagles and four-one in the match with Kuasa from Devon, before losing three-two to Chew Valley from the Avon league. All three of the matches that were lost against Chew were very close and could have gone either way: Dan’s singles went to a deciding end and both the boys’ doubles and the mixed doubles were equally close.
In the third/fourth place play-off, they faced Kesteven Superzone from Lincolnshire and triumphed by three games to two, taking the bronze medals. Hugh came close in his singles three-ender and the boys pairing of Jamie and Ollie were unlucky to lose their doubles. But good wins came from Eve at singles, Eve and Lucy at girls’ doubles and Lucy and Ollie at mixed.
All the team’s players had contributed in good measure to the overall success but both of the girls did particularly well and Lucy, nationally ranked 8th in her Under 12 age group, won all of her singles and doubles matches.
Many congratulations to the Ponteland team and to Phil!