North-east to the fore

The north-east continues to be a prominent force in the badminton circuit with 12 athletes competing in the recent Midland U13 and U17 tournaments both contested at the Dundee International Sports Complex.

In the U13 event Stonehaven’s Holly Thomson, Eilidh Craigen, Scott Waddell, Sam Muir, Calum Lawrence, Jack Murray, Matthew Duguid and Stuart Holley were joined by Banchory’s Becky Flaherty and Cults’ Kiera Dalton and Steaphan Connell. Jacob Reynolds was the only representation in the U17 boys doubles event where he partnered Callum Innes for the first time. Although winning one of their pool games the experience of the other partnerships in their group proved difficult for them to overcome and they did not qualify for the knock out stage. In the U13 singles events five players progressed through to the knock out stages. Becky made it to the semi-final stage and played well but ultimately lost out to Ayrshire’s Eleanor O’Donnell, 10-21, 13-21. Scott, Steaphan, Stuart and Matthew were unfortunate to all land on the same side of the knockout event. The first round saw Stuart against Scott, on this occasion Scott taking the honours 21-13 to secure a quarter-final tie against Ayrshire’s Stuart Dyce. Despite losing the first game 18-21, Scott managed to turn his fortunes around taking the second game 24-22. With a semi-final place at stake both boys showed great determination and treated the spectators to a fantastic third set, Scott sealing the victory 21-15.

Steaphan and Matthew were fortunate to receive a bye to the quarter-final stage where they met each other, a great match ensued, Matthew took the first 21-14 however Steaphan was not going to make it easy for Matthew, matching him point for point in the second game. Despite a spirited performance from Steaphan, Matthew won the tie 22-20 in the second game.

This set up a semi-final between Scott and Matthew. Although playing one year above his age group Scott showed great maturity and composure in the match and Matthew similarly showed Scott the respect he deserved. Both boys played well with some fantastic end to end rallies, another great match to watch. In the end Matthew took the tie 21-16, 21-13, justifying his second place seeding. Another final battle against regular rival, Motherwell’s Alex Dunn was the reward, unfortunately Alex took the title on the day 21-13, 21-15.

In the doubles events Kiera and Becky secured one victory in their pool but this wasn’t enough to qualify for the knockout stage however Eilidh and Holly, though similarly winning one game did manage to make it through to the semi-final where they were unlucky to face top seeds and eventual winners Cara McCulloch and Holly Newall, Ayrshire. The Ayrshire girls proved too strong on this occasion taking the tie 21-7, 21-8.

In the boys event Jack and Steaphan were desperately unlucky not to progress to the main event, losing out by only 5 points in a countback situation. Scott and Sam progressed to the quarter-finals where despite winning the first game 21-15, the opposition, Douglas Crawford and Robbie Patterson, seemed to be inspired and went on to win the match 15-21, 21-14, 21-15.

Matthew and Stuart justified their second place seeding when they made it through to the final to meet old rivals Alex Dunn and Stuart Dyce. Once again a great game entertained the many spectators however luck was not with Matthew and Stuart on this occasion, Alex and Stuart taking the title 21-13, 21-10.

The final event of the day was the mixed doubles. Keira and Steaphan paired up, Jack teamed up with Motherwell’s Olivia Quinn and Scott played with U12 squad mate, Lauren Middleton, Dundee. Despite spirited performances from all three pairs they failed to qualify for the knock out stage.

Stuart and Becky and Matthew and Holly faired better to progress to the main event. Stuart and Becky exited at the quarter-final stage losing to third seeds, Eleanor O’Donnell and Stuart Dyce, 15-21, 17-21. Matthew and Holly lived up to their third seeding achieving a semi-final place where Matthew would meet Alex Dunn for the third encounter of the day. Once again Alex and partner Holly Newall took the honours, 21-5, 21-9, and went on to lift the title.

Joan Prieur, badminton development office said: “All in all a fantastic display from all of the north-east players and some great results. These performances continue to encourage other players in the area.”