Local youngsters excell

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Penicuik Sports Centre was the venue for the recent Midlothian U11 badminton event. Five young athletes from Stonehaven made the journey south to compete. Maria Leith, Josh McKay and James Hinchcliffe, all Mill O’Forest primary school and Catriona Holley and Eilidh Mitchell, Dunnottar primary, represented the north east.

In the boys singles event James and Josh both played well, showing some fantastic skill and tactical play. Despite winning three of his group games this wasn’t enough for James to qualify for the main event, however he went on to reach the semi-final of the consolation event where, despite a spirited performance he lost out to eventual consolation winner, Euan Laing, Lothian. Josh won four of his group games securing him passage to the main event. His good form continued but he was unfortunate to meet one of the top seeds, Christopher Grimley, Glasgow in the quarter-final.

The seeding did not deter Josh and despite being a year younger than Christopher this was not apparent in the match. Josh fought hard and was unlucky to lose the tie 21-16, a fantastic result. Catriona, Eilidh and Maria faired similarly in the girls event, all qualifying for the main event knock out stage. Unfortunately Catriona and Eilidh came head to head in the quarter-final and Maria was also unlucky to meet U12 squad mate, Lauren Middleton, Dundee, at the same stage.

On this occasion Eilidh managed to win the tie and despite a mature performance, Maria lost out to Lauren. Eilidh then went on to cause major upset in the semi-final, disposing of top seed, Sarah Sidebottom, 21-17, another great performance.

This set up a final which promised to be exciting between Eilidh and Lothian’s Lily Farnood. Eilidh played very well and kept her composure throughout but it was Lily who took the honours on the day.

The doubles event saw Josh team up with Adam Pringle, Glasgow, Eilidh with Claire Roger, West Lothian, and Catriona with Maria. All three pairs faired well, all qualifying for the main knock out events.

Josh and Adam were unfortunate to face Glasgow’s Grimley twins, Christopher and Matthew, at the semi-final stage where the brothers’ strength and experience could not be matched by Josh and Adam; however they went down in fighting spirit.

Fortunately the three Stonehaven girls were in opposite semi-finals making for the possibility of a predominantly Stonehaven final. Given that this was Eilidh and Claire’s first tournament together they put up a great challenge against top seeds Lauren Middleton and Sarah Sidebottom, however this time the luck was on Lauren and Sarah’s side, securing a place in the final.

The other semi-final saw Catriona and Maria face second seeds Lily Farnood and Olivia Gray, Lothian. Upset was on the cards once again when the result never looked in doubt with the Stonehaven duo dominating throughout to take the tie 21 – 12.

With Catriona and Maria in high spirits it looked like they could go all the way to take victory against top seeds Middleton and Sidebottom and at 16 all the spectators were on the edge of their seats.

Unfortunately the slightly less experienced Stonehaven pair lost their momentum in the final stages and lost out 21-16, with what was still a fantastic performance with great teamwork and competitive spirit.

Badminton development officer Joan Prieur said: “This once again confirms that the North East has many talented children in the sport of badminton and I look forward to seeing these children develop in the national circuit, well done to all.”