Strong presence from North-east at nationals

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Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, was once again the venue for the 2011 Bank of Scotland Scottish National Badminton Championships.

The recent event sought to find Scotland’s best in the U13, U17 and U23 age groups. The North-east had 15 athletes competing, 5 in the U17 event and 10 in the U13 event, with all eyes on Stonehaven’s Matthew Duguid who was seeded 2 in the U13 boys’ singles event.

Matthew was hoping to bring the title back to Stonehaven for a second year after it was won by Mark Leith in 2010. Matthew certainly did not disappoint and along with doubles partner Stuart Holley, also Stonehaven, Keira Dalton, Milltimber and Becky Flaherty, Banchory, the North-east continued to have a presence on finals days.

In the boys’ singles, semi-final victory for Matthew was never in doubt when he overcame Brad Habberley, Highland, in two sets, 21-10, 21-7. A place in the final against regular rival and top seed Alex Dunn, Motherwell, was his reward. As always a fantastic match ensued, both players displaying some fine badminton. Alex managed to edge ahead and maintain his lead to take the first set 21-13, in the second, however Matthew came back with renewed energy, matching Alex point for point until the score reached 12 all.

Alex then had a six point run but Matthew, undeterred dug deep winning the next two points. With the score at 18-14 a comeback looked possible, however Alex kept his resolve, justifying his top seeding, and winning the title 21-14.

In the boys’ doubles event, Matthew teamed up with Stuart and once again faced Alex and partner Stewart Dyce, Mauchline, in the semi-final.

Despite an 11-6 lead in the first set Matthew and Stuart were unable to capitalise on this and lost the set 21-18.

In the second Matthew and Stuart started in a similar vein, 11–5 up at the break, this time holding on to win the set 21-17.

The third set was full of tension and again some superb teamwork from both pairs, but unfortunately Alex and Stewart held on to take victory 21-15.

Despite being top seeds on the day upset was caused when Alex and Stewart were beaten in the final by Glasgow twins Christopher and Matthew Grimley, seeded second, in the final 21-17, 22-20.

In the U13 girls’ doubles event, Keira and Becky faced top seeds Cara McCulloch and Holly Newall, both Ayrshire, in Sunday’s semi-final.

Despite a spirited performance, the top seeds and eventual winners Cara and Holly won the match. Holly Newall was the only treble winner of the weekend, lifting the U13 girls’ singles title and the mixed doubles title with partner Alex Dunn.

Other local players were Scott Waddell, Sam Muir, Jack Murray all Stonehaven who along with Stuart Holley went out in the second round of the boys’ singles event.

David Blacklaw, Stonehaven made it to the third round where he lost to eventual winner Alex Dunn in a well fought match. Steaphan Connell, Milltimber was unlucky to meet Calum Atterbury in the first round, losing 21-17, 21-16, and similarly in the girls’ event Holly Thomson, Stonehaven lost out to Dundee’s Lauren Middleton in three sets and Keira to Edinburgh’s Basia Grodynska in three sets.

Becky made it one stage further where she was defeated in the second round by Holly Newall, 21-12, 21-14, a commendable score against the Glasgow School of Sport pupil.

In the mixed event Keira and Steaphan progressed to the quarter finals following victory over Holly and Matthew, where they were joined by Stuart and Becky and youngsters Scott Waddell and Keira Torrance.

Unfortunately no-one progressed to the semis.

In the U17 event there were some great performances from the North-east athletes but unfortunately no progression to finals days.

In the singles event Mark Leith and Kirsty Thomson both exited in the first round with Jacob Reynolds, Sean Leith and Scott Murray all losing out in the second round.

In the doubles events Mark teamed up with Tommy Reynolds but the pair were unable to overcome School of Sport duo Calum Stevenson and Callum Riddell in the second round.

Kirsty partnered Anna Devine, Edinburgh, Jacob with regular partner Robert Clark and Sean with Scott. All three pairs progressed to the quarter final stage, Jacob and Robert losing out in two sets to eventual winners Jordan Gilvear and Ben Torrance 21-12, 21-8, Kirsty and Anna losing to eventual finalists Rebekka Findlay and Heather Campbell, 21-10, 21-15 and most unlucky of all Sean and Scott losing to Alistair Gordon and Jackson Higgins, both Edinburgh, 20-22, 21-15, 14-21.

In the mixed event Kirsty and Sean were unfortunate to meet top seeds and eventual winners in the second round but put on a great performance, losing the tie 21-11, 21-6. Jacob teamed up with Sofia Cogliano, Edinburgh and suffered a similar defeat in the second round against Calvin Percival and Heather Campbell, 21-12, 21-10.

These performances are all very encouraging considering Mark is currently U14, Jacob and Sean U15 and Kirsty U16, so they will be back to challenge in the U17 age group again next year.