Senior County Report 2 [2017-18 season]

Information on Senior Tournaments and County Team matches from December 2017 to March 7th  2018.

Senior Tournaments

Senior Gold

The annual Northumberland Championships, part of the Badminton England Senior Gold Circuit, saw some 60 of the best players on the circuit congregate at the Tyneside Badminton Centre. For the last two years the Gold has been dominated by Scottish internationals but they were in the most part absent this year, leaving the way clear for the English to triumph. The men’s singles entry featured 8 of the top 40 in the domestic rankings and the women’s singles also boasted 6 of the top 20 in the country.

The weekend was to be dominated by two of the top junior prospects in England in the reigning U17 European Mixed Doubles champions, Rory Easton and Hope Warner. It isn’t just mixed that they excel at either as Easton was triple champion, combining with England International Matthew Nottingham to take the men’s doubles without the loss of a set and overcoming top seed Ben Hunt of Middlesex in the final of the singles, whilst Warner took the women’s doubles partnering Grace King.

The unheralded performance of the weekend had to be Norfolk’s Amy Hayhoe in the women’s singles. Unseeded, she beat the second seed in three sets and Basia Grodynska, the Northumberland Silver winner, also in three sets before taking on the top seed Grace Taylor in the final when she came from behind to also take that in 3, 20-22, 21-19, 21-12.

The locals were not to be totally outdone though with Garrylee McMullen, joint ranked 33 in England with Philip Pahatouridis, making the semi-finals by dint of a quarter final win over ‘3/4’ seed Josh Young from Teesside in three sets. There he met Easton and competed well in taking the second set before he went down 13-21, 21-17, 12-21. Pahatouridis had a good win over Yorkshire’s Martin Drabble before losing to the other ‘3/4’ seed Alex Cook of Oxfordshire in three sets and Ashraf Alam also recorded a first round win before he in turn came up against Easton, losing in straight sets.

The mixed doubles saw Pahatouridis and Rachel Frobisher have a good win over Yorkshire’s Matt Train and Becky Boyle in their opening match, a close affair which they just edged 18-21, 25-23, 21-16 before their progress was halted by Easton and Warner in the quarter finals. A big thankyou to Steve Porter who refereed in my absence as I was ill.

Final Results:-

Men’s Singles: Rory Easton (Kent) beat Ben Hunt (Middlesex) 15-21, 21-11, 21-15;

Ladies Singles: Amy Heyhoe (Norfolk) beat Grace Taylor (Leics) 20-22, 21-19, 21-12;

Men’s Doubles: Rory Easton (Kent) & Matthew Nottingham (Bucks) beat Jack MacGregor (Lanarkshire) & Ciar Pringle (Glasgow) 21-12, 21-11;

Ladies Doubles: Grace King (Derbyshire) & Hope Warner (Leics) beat Nicola Gresty (Glos) & Samodani Wijetunge (Surrey) 21-11, 21-14;

Mixed Doubles: Rory Easton (Kent) & Hope Warner (Leics) beat Matthew Nottingham (Bucks) & Emily Easton (Kent) 21-16, 17-21, 21-13;

Senior County Matches

County 1st Team

The second Saturday of the Senior County Championships saw North’s first team up against Cheshire 2 and Lanarkshire at York Railway Institute and a day of mixed fortunes saw them pretty even on the day, securing 12 points out of a possible 22. With Richard Eaton and Emily Harrison late withdrawals through illness, the load had to be spread across the remaining eight, one of whom was Lucy Dixon who had been unavailable for the opening weekend.

North’s men got off to a flier with both Philip Pahatouridis and Garrylee McMullen winning in straight sets, Ashraf Alam backing that up with a three set win, recovering so well from an opening set loss 24-22, that he won the other two sets 7 and 12! Despite two 3-set efforts form the ladies, they could not add to the score but North still led 3-2 going into the doubles.

Philip And Ashraf took the top string game in two sets and Garrylee and Ryan Jelley backed that up taking theirs in three, 21-18 in the third, to make it 5-2 to North and one needed for a match victory. The ladies were duly shared, although Lucy and Beth Martin-Brand had to come from a set down and only just secured the winning point 22-20 in the third. 6-3 to North became 7-4 when the mixed were also shared, Philip and Eleanor Laws emerging victorious in 3 sets.

The afternoon fixture against Lanarkshire started well with both opening sets secured but whilst Garrylee went on to secure victory in his second set, Scottish junior international Jack MacGregor recovered well to overcome Philip in three. A similar fate was to befall Ashraf who also took his opener against former international Craig Goddard before he too was pegged back to lose in three. Catherine Thomas also secured her singles in two ends to keep North in the hunt at 2-3.

Philip and Ashraf were up against it in the men’s with MacGregor combining with the experienced Keith Turnbull to prove too strong but Garrylee and Ryan secured their second win of the day, 23-21 in the third, North hanging on then at 3-4 down. A good win from Eleanor Laws and Catherine Thomas ensured the ladies were split but North went into the mixed needing both for victory.

Alas it was not to be with Turnbull and Kirsten Berry taking the top mixed but Garrylee then combined with Eleanor to win in two sets, maintaining his unbeaten record on the day. The results leave North in fourth place out of 8 but with a tough final weekend at the end of March when they have to play the top two teams, Derbyshire and Lancashire 2, both of whom are unbeaten.

This leave the firsts in 4th place on 23 points in Division 2 North and with a tough final weekend as they have to play second placed Lancashire 2, currently unbeaten, and bottom placed Yorkshire 5 on Saturday, finishing against current leaders Derbyshire, also unbeaten, on Sunday morning.

County 2nd Team

The second team were on a hiding to nothing on their second Saturday as they were missing no fewer than five players and this with opposition of league leaders Durham Firsts and the Isle of Man who are normally strong.

So it was to prove with Rachel Frobisher and Rachel Bogan the only winners in the morning, the Manx folk taking it 10-1. The afternoon was to go even worse as they failed to trouble the scorers and suffered a whitewash at the hands of Durham.

That leaves the seconds with a tough battle to survive in Division 3 North as they now lie 6th in the table with a total of 17 points although that is 6 clear of Lothian 2 and 14 clear of Glasgow 2 who were unable to field a team.

Their final weekend sees them up against second placed Lancashire 3, unbeaten so far, and Cumbria as well as Cheshire 3 who they must surely beat if they are to avoid relegation.

County 3rd Team

The third team continued their campaign with an extra round of fixtures on Saturday 9th December, with matches against Durham 2, usually a close affair and Scottish Midlands who they beat 7-4 on the opening Saturday. The make-up of Division 4 North is 5 teams playing each other twice rather than the normal 8 teams playing each other once, hence why they were playing Scottish Midlands again.

Rex Lee soon had North’s 3rd team on the scoreboard in their opening match against Durham 2 and fellow Newcastle University student Jack Dye recovered well from a set down to make it 2-0. Melvin Cherian also recovered from a set down only to go down narrowly 22-20 in his deciding set. In the ladies singles an unfortunate injury to Ellie Roberts was balanced by Rachel Bogan being victorious in 3 sets.

Rex then combined with Andy Renton to win in 2 sets as did Jack with Michael Taylor taking North’s lead to 5-2 and the match was duly secured by Jess Wright and Anna Railton, also in straight sets. Despite a 3-set effort from Michael and Anna in the mixed, that was to be the sum total for North’s efforts, still an excellent win if only by 6-5.

The afternoon saw the men establish an early lead, Rex comfortably in the third having only lost his second set 21-19, and Jack and Melvin both winning in straight sets, a first senior win for the latter. The Scottish Midlands ladies were stronger however, featuring the veteran and former Scottish International, Aileen Travers at first string and the promising youngster Rebecca McGourty at second. Still North led 3-2 going in to the doubles.

Rex and Andy recovered from the loss of their opening set to win in three and Jack and Michael repeated their success from the morning match for North to again lead 5-2. Travers and McGourty proved just too good for Jess and Anna, winning 21-14, 21-19 but Rachel Bogan and Sarah Bambrick, the late replacement for the injured Roberts, did well to take their match 20-22, 21-16, 21-16 to secure the victory at 6-3.

This time North secured both mixed, Michael & Anna in straight sets and Jack and Jess just prevailing at top string in the best game of the day, 17-21, 21-19, 23-21. So the final score 8-3 to North, a result which saw them into second place in Division 4 North.

The third weekend of 4 for the thirds saw them up against Lanarkshire 2 and leaders Cumbria 2 and they continued their excellent run by securing 6-5 wins over both!

Against Lanarkshire, they were indebted to Rex Lee for his 3 wins, 21-18 in the third at first singles, with Andy Renton 24-22, 18-21, 21-19 at top doubles and with Jess Wright at top mixed. With Jess and Anna Railton again winning their doubles that gave them 4 of the required 6 but the other two were to come from unlikely sources with two late replacements in veteran Emily Ogden and Anouchka Wyss. First Emily took her singles 21-16, 21-19 and they then combined to take their doubles 21-17-25.

The afternoon saw them forge ahead early against the Cumbrians with Rex, Yap Yi Xuan, Anouchka and Emily all winning in straight sets to lead 4-1 after the singles. Rex and Andy Renton then took the top string men’s doubles, but only just 24-22 in the third to get North to 5-1 and then Yap and Jono Shaw of Newcastle Uni clinched the other Men’s and victory.

Despite three set efforts in all the remaining four matches they could not get over the line although Anouchka and Emily only just failed 27-25 in the third. So another 6-5 result that maintains their second place on 35 points to Cumbria’s 37 in the lead.

Steve Abbott, Chairman, Competitive Play Sub-committee

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