Good show from local players in North-east tournament

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There was a change of venue for this year’s north east restricted badminton tournament from Harlaw academy to Northfield academy. As usual 3 age groups were catered for, U13 on the Saturday and U15 and U17 on the Sunday, with both singles and doubles events being staged.

The U13 age group attracted a record amount of entries this year with 35 players, remarkably 19 girls and 16 boys. Saturday kicked off with the boys’ singles event which was split into 4 groups, the winner of each progressing to the semi final. Matthew Duguid, Stuart Holley and Jack Murray, all Stonehaven and Steaphan Connell, Milltimber, secured the top spots.

In the Stonehaven derby Jack lost to Matthew in a well fought contest, 21-10, 21-14, and Steaphan claimed victory over Stuart in an even closer battle, 21-17, 21-18. The final between Matthew and Steaphan as usual proved an exciting encounter with many long and skilful rallies. In the end Matthew proved the stronger on the day taking the title 21-15, 21-11.

The boys’ doubles event saw the same four faces contest the final with Jack teaming up with Steaphan and Matthew with Stuart, each pair having won their respective groups without dropping a set.

Once again the experienced partnership of Matthew and Stuart proved just too strong on the day winning the tie 21-17, 21-15, a fantastic effort from Jack and Steaphan.

In the girls’ singles event there were also 4 groups which is an increase on previous years. There were several upsets in the girls event with some of the younger players, U10s and U11s making their presence felt by overcoming some of the older but less experienced players. All games were played in great spirit with seeds Becky Flaherty, Banchory and Kiera Dalton and Freya McKay, Milltmber and Eilidh Mitchell, Stonehaven (U11), taking the spoils to progress to the semis.

Freya played well but was always playing catch up losing out to Becky 21-6, 21-4. The other semi was a much closer affair with Keira having to play exceptionally well to overcome an on form Eilidh 21-16, 21-17. Becky and Keira are regular rivals and always deliver a great performance and this final was no exception. With tremendous skill, composure and some great rallies the spectators were treated to a superb final, Becky taking the honours in 3 sets, 21-6, 19-21, 21-8.

With only 2 groups in the doubles event Keira and Becky once again featured in the final against young opposition, Catriona Holley (10) and Maria Leith (9), both Stonehaven. Although slightly overawed in the first game the youngsters fought back in the second but the fightback came just too late and Keira and Becky won the match 21-7, 21-15, a fantastic performance by all concerned. Sunday started with the U15 boys’ events with 13 entries, again split into 4 groups. Matthew Duguid was back in action trying to repeat the previous day’s double title success however to repeat this he had to overcome Mackie Academy school mate Sean Leith in the semi final. The other semi final was also an all Mackie event with Cameron Pyper pitched against Mark Leith.

Matthew competed well but struggled against the more experienced and older player, Sean winning the match 21-11, 21-5. Younger brother Mark had a more challenging encounter with Cameron almost getting the better of him in the first set. Mark however composed himself and took control of the second set, winning the tie 22-20, 21-12.

The final saw the Leith brothers head to head and although Mark seemed in control in the first set Sean managed to fight back to win 21-18. The second was very similar with both boys proving their justification of a finals place, Sean claiming victory in the end, 21-18, 21-18.

The doubles saw the Leith brothers in action again this time on the same side of the net where they met Matthew and Steaphan Connell in the final, again Matthew and Steaphan unfortunate to lose the encounter after a great performance, 21-9, 21-18.

The U15 girls’ event only attracted six entries however the standard of play was very high. In the singles event Becky managed to add to her titles from the previous day beating Chloe Tough, Stonehaven in a very tight fought match, 24-22, 21-13. In the doubles event Chloe got her revenge when she lifted the title with school mate Laura Townsend, beating Becky and Jenny Paterson 21-18, 21-20 and Holly Thomson and Eve Gammack, both Mackie Academy, 21-17, 21-14, all very close matches.

Disappointingly there were no girls in the U17 girls’ events but there were 10 boys entered. The singles was split into 2 groups of 5 with Scott Duncan and Josh Halliday, both Mackie Academy progressing to the final, and what a final it was. End to end play, deception, power play, it had it all. Scott dropped his first set of the day losing 21-16; however undeterred he turned the tables winning the 2nd and 3rd sets 21-19, 21-19 to lift the title.

Josh and Scott then teamed up in the doubles and were undefeated their closest match being against Callum Roberts, Banchory and Chris Stokeld, Cults, which went to 3 sets, 20-21, 21-13, 21-19, securing them the title. This was a fantastic well organised event and was well supported by both players and spectators.