At the end of May, Northumberland’s Under 13 badminton team travelled to the Sportscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde at Largs, on the Ayrshire coast, to compete in the annual Anglo-Scottish Tournament. This brings together eight teams from northern England and all over Scotland in an exciting weekend of badminton.
The Northumberland team was made up of a mix of more experienced players, and those who were travelling away to represent Northumberland for the very first time. The team was Ryan Cockett, Thomas Vicente, Matthew Jefferson, Jake Moir, Lucy Dodd, Reema Rajeev, Cookie Prapunwong and Sophie Cockett, and the team managers were Gillian Cockett and Herve Vicente (and many thanks to them for this report).
Northumberland started off with a hard round against the West of Scotland team and although they put in lots of effort, they lost 6-4. In this match, Ryan did well to win a close singles 7-3 in the third end; the strength and experience of Lucy showed as she recorded a very comfortable singles win 15-2, 15-2; Reema also did well and showed no nerves to record her first win in singles and then paired up with Cookie to also win her doubles match. Lucy and Sophie came very close in their doubles but lost 7-4 in the third end, while Ryan and Thomas had a good match in their doubles losing 15-13, 15-11. An encouraging start.
Day one was always going to be tough for Northumberland as they were due to play most of the strongest teams, and they lost their remaining matches against Clyde 8-2, Yorkshire 8-2 and the winner of the overall competition, Lothian 9-1. All of the children played really well throughout against very strong opposition, including national players from both England and Scotland. In particular, Matthew did well to not be overawed and to put up a really good fight against the No.1 boy in Scotland.
The first match on day two was against Cumbria, and Northumberland were able to record their first win of the competition scoring 7-3. Many of the players did well to get their first victories – Jake had a good win in his singles 15-9, 15-8, and Matthew in his mixed doubles playing with Lucy, and then the two boys went on to win their boys doubles 15-14, 15-10. Cookie also did well to comfortably win her singles and then teamed up with Lucy to also win her doubles. The brother and sister partnership of Ryan and Sophie worked well together to win their mixed doubles and Sophie then paired up with Reema to win their girls doubles.
With increased confidence, Northumberland were then able to secure a comprehensive victory against Borders by winning all but one of their games. Jake did well to win a tight singles match in two games and then pulled off a close victory in the boys doubles playing with Matthew to win 5-15, 15-11, 7-6. Thomas paired up with Ryan and Cookie to win in both doubles and mixed doubles. The youngest member of the team, Sophie, age 9, won her first singles match of the weekend, and then teamed up with Lucy to win their doubles. Reema and Cookie fought well to win a tight doubles match 13-15, 15-9, 7-5.
The final match of the weekend was against a strong team from the Scottish Highlands who had both good girls and good boys and came third overall. Northumberland were only able to win 3 games against them, and lost the match 7-3 but battled well to get some very respectable scores. Ryan did well to win his singles 15-12, 15-8, and Lucy showed her strength to comfortably win her singles and then go on to win her girls doubles playing with Cookie 15-11, 15-7.
After a long weekend of very high quality badminton, the Northumberland team finished 6th out of 8 teams, which was a creditable performance by the team, many of whom are relatively inexperienced at playing at this higher level.
The weekend was finished off by the traditional post-competition visit to the ice cream shop in Largs and the team even found the energy to go on the bumper cars before starting their journey back home.