Over the weekend of 12th and 13th October, Northumberland’s junior badminton team took part in the annual Under 15 Anglo-Scottish tournament at the Tyneside Badminton Centre. This usually brings together up to eight counties playing off for the trophy but this year there were only four other teams taking part from Lothian, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Read on for Team Manager Gillian Cockett’s report on the weekend.
Northumberland’s first match was against the traditionally strong team from Lothian, and this year was no exception as Lothian had a team with both good standard girls and boys. Despite this, Northumberland did well with good wins and some very competitive games. Xuehan Zhang and Katrina Ho managed to hold on to win their mixed doubles in an extremely close match 19-21, 24-22, 11-5, and Merin Cherian showed her strength and determination to win an excellent singles game 25-23, 21-16. Sisters Amy and Hannah Zheng looked comfortable, winning their girls doubles 21-16, 21-8 and were the only other winners in this tough match which Northumberland lost 12-3. Despite this score, many of the Northumberland players had very competitive games; Naomi Silva and Katrina narrowly lost to the first girls’ doubles pair 22-10, 20-22, 5-11, Thomas Vicente and Chalida Prapunwong came close in their mixed doubles. There were also some closely fought games in the boys doubles; Ryan Cockett and Xuehan lost by 1 point in the third end to lose 25-23, 15-21, 10-11 and Cameron Twynholm and Sam Best also took their boys’ doubles pair to 3 ends losing 17-21, 21-19, 7-11.
Our second match of the day was against Cumbria: this was narrowly lost 8-7 in a match which came down to the very last game. Cumbria chose to play their strongest boys in the mixed doubles, which meant that Cameron and Hannah had to play against Daniel Kemp, one of the best boys in the country. Matthew Jefferson and Merin then had to play against his brother, Charlie Kemp in their mixed doubles games. Both pairs did very respectably and put up a good fight. Katrina, Naomi, Xuehan and Ryan all did well to go on to win their singles games. Oliver Heron played well but narrowly lost his boys singles game 18-21, 22-24 and Sophie Cockett came very close to winning her girls singles but lost 9-21, 21-13, 9-11. After the mixed doubles and the singles, the match score was 5-4 to Cumbria. The girls doubles got Northumberland off to an excellent start with both pairs, Katrina & Naomi and Merin & Hannah, winning their games to make the score 6-5 to Northumberland. Sophie and Chalida then lost in a nail biting match by 1 point in the third end, 20-22, 21-13, 10-11. Ryan and Xuehan came very close to beating the strong pairing of brothers Daniel and Charlie Kemp, but in the end they lost 21-15, 9-21, 9-11. Cameron and Oliver did really well in another close match to win 21-17, 25-27, 11-8 and make the score 7-7. The final game of the match was very tense and Matthew and Thomas played really well but lost 16-21, 15-21.
On Sunday morning, Northumberland had to play their toughest opponents and the overall winners of the competition, Yorkshire, who were predictably strong throughout their team. Despite losing 15-0, all of the Northumberland team played well and showed great character to keep fighting for every point, with every member of the team managing to get respectable scores against much more experienced opponents.
The final match of the weekend for Northumberland was against Lancashire and was lost 11-4, although again there were some very close games. Ryan and Naomi got the match off to a good start with a closely fought victory against the top mixed doubles pair 22-20, 15-21, 11-5. Ray Li and Reema Rajeev were unlucky to lose a close game in their mixed doubles 22-20, 8-21, 5-11 but Merin showed her strength to win her girls’ singles 21-18, 21-19. All of the girls doubles were very competitive matches: Katrina & Naomi narrowly lost 19-21, 21-18, 9-11; Amy & Hannah managed to pull off a good win in a tight match 20-22, 21-16, 11-2; and Reema and Merin also did really well to win 21-19, 19-21, 11-8. However, the Lancashire boys were too strong: Xuehan and Ryan had a close match against the 1st boys doubles pair, narrowly losing 21-17, 21-23, 9-11; Cameron and Sam put up a strong performance but lost 17-21, 14-21; and Oliver and Ray also had a good match but lost 18-21, 11-21.
In this competition, the Northumberland team had several much younger and inexperienced players representing them for the first time at this Under 15 age group; a special mention goes to Matthew, Hannah, Chalida and Reema who are only 11, and Oliver and Sophie who are still only 10 years old. They all played with strength and maturity and showed great determination, often playing against much older opponents.