Sri Lankan Star excels

The Northumberland Senior Gold, part of the Badminton England Senior Gold Circuit, returned to the calendar for the first time since 2019. The first Gold event of 2022 attracted a bumper entry of 76, featuring many premiership players, particularly from Middlesex and Sussex. The leading light though had to be world ranked Sri Lankan Dinuka Karunaratne who emerged a double champion and barely put a foot wrong all weekend.

The men’s singles boasted 6 A grade players and 8 ranked in the top 50 in the country with top locals seeded, Philip Pahatouridis ‘3/4’ and Garrylee McMullen 5/8. The latter made the quarter final before losing to top seed Ben Muir from Hampshire in two tight sets 21-18, 21-17. Pahatouridis went one better in beating Yorkshire’s Jamie Bonsels in the quarter final in three sets before going down to second seed Adam Dolman in the semi in three.

Karunaratne had meanwhile made serene progress to the semi final from his 5/8 seeding, this due to insufficient English tournament results to give him a higher ranking, where he duly dispatched the top seed in straight sets, some of his retrieving leaving Muir shaking his head in disbelief. That combined with an immaculate length made him a cut above the field. The final followed a similar course with Adam Dolman also going down in straight sets.

The ladies’ singles should have been the tale of two Allens, the top seed Rosemary from Essex and second seed Jessica from Leicestershire. Aimee Whiteman from Wales had different ideas though, making the semi-final by beating ‘3/4’ seed Evelyn Yu and Scottish number 3 Basia Grodynska, both in 3 sets. There she met Rosemary Allen and, despite dropping the opening set, recovered to take that in three also.

Whiteman made a storming start to the final taking the opening set to 9 before Jessica Allen gradually worked her way back into the match to level at one set all. She managed to keep her nose in front throughout the decider, taking the win 21-18.

The men’s doubles provided a further showcase for Karunaratne’s talents where, as top seed with Robert Golding from Middlesex, he made the final without losing a set. Fellow Middlesex teammates Angus Pedersen and Wai Lok Poon also made the final having taken out second seeds Alex Marritt and Nathan Rossiter from Yorkshire en route but they could make little headway either which meant the Sri Lankan did not lose a set all weekend!

Rosemary Allen made up for her disappointment in the singles by taking the doubles. Partnered by Oxford’s Natalia Mitchell she made the final without the loss of a set and the final itself was to be no different as Katherine Arksey from Yorkshire and Sophie Watson form Leicestershire got close but went down 21-18, 21-19.

The mixed provided the closest contest with Pedersen and Zoe Hallam, also of Middlesex, just shading it against Rossiter and Arksey 21-16, 17-21, 25-23! This after Rossiter and Arksey had only just got he better of locals Philip Pahatouridis and Fay Andrews in an earlier round, 28-26 in the third.

An excellent standard throughout, it is to be hoped Northumberland can stage another Gold to start 2023.