BADMINTON: ALPHA PLAYERS CELEBRATE ULSTER TITLE SUCCESS
By Brian Kelly
Over the years Alpha Badminton Club has enjoyed considerable success in the various Ulster competitions but few will have rivalled the number of successes its players enjoyed at the National Badminton Centre last weekend when one Ulster title after another was captured by an Alpha player in either the Forza Ulster Open, Ulster U15 Open or the Ulster U13Open.
In the Walsin Women’s Singles 17 year-old Rachael Woods was to win her FIRST Forza Ulster title but not before being taken to thee sets by each of her opponents Bethany Wong, Orla Flynn and in the final Sophia Noble, had seen the top seed Kate Frost retire in the third set with Sophia holding an 11-7 advantage.
Rachael and Sophia were engaged in a real cliff-hanger which lasted 44 minutes and which had spectators on the edge of their seats, Rachael taking the opening set 21-13 and her young opponent snatching the second 21-19 before the third saw the Alpha player secure her first Ulster Open Singles title 21-18.
Rachael was to team up with her twin sister Rebecca in the women’s Doubles and they raced through to the opening set 21-11 against the top seeds Kate Frost and Moya Ryan and had set points in their favour only for their more experienced opponents to counter and drew level 22-20 and went on to lift the title 21-11 in the deciding set.
The Walsin Men’s Singles saw Mark Brady in imperious form taking the title without dropping a single set beating Sam McKay 21-13 21-15.
The Walsin Men’s Doubles was certainly keenly contested with four matches being decided in the third set and the top seeds Mark Brady and Ciaran Chambers being severely tested by former champions Tony Murphy and Tony Stephenson in a 45 minute marathon with Brady/Chambers booking their place in the final 11-21 21-17 25-23 and going on to lift the title 21-18 21-10 against Daniel Magee/Sam McKay.
Moya Ryan was to team up with Ciaran Chambers in the Walsin Mixed Doubles and they were to take the opening set of the final against Daniel Magee and Kate Frost 21-9 only for the No2 seeds to level 21-16 and were to snatch victory 21-18.
Ulster U15 Open
Matthew Cheung was again in imperious form dropping only ONE single set - in the Boy’s Doubles - on his way to being a triple champion once again with his fitness being tested in his ELEVEN matches.
The 13 year-old RBAI pupil eased his way through to the final of the Boy’s Singles with straight set victories over James Fleming, Fionn Dowling and Dylan Noble to face Richard Kong in the final after he had come through a marathon clash with Jack Bridgeman, winning 18-21 21-11 21-19.
The Boy’s Doubles saw Matthew team up with Robbie Frost and after booking their place in the final despite dropping the opening set against Eoghan Cooney and Dylan Noble they were to clinch the title 21-7 2-11 against James Fleming and Richard Kong, the No2 seeds.
There were two sisters on opposing sides in the Mixed Doubles final, Chloe Woods partnering Matthew Cheung and Paige Woods with Dylan Noble, who had ended the hopes of both the seeded Robbie Frost and Siofra Flynn and the No2 seeds Jack Bridgeman and Neasa Flynn.
The unseeded pair certainly gave their opponents a few problems but had no answer to their greater strength and power but will be able to reflect on their performance in reaching the final.
Neasa Flynn, the No2 seed in the Ulster U15 Girl’s Singles was given quite a scare by Lucy Xu in the quarter-finals before booking her place in the semis 21-17 30-28 but it was the top seed Siofra Flynn who was to capture the title with a narrow victory 21-17 21-19 over Neasa, having ended the hopes of Chloe Woods in the semi-final in straight sets.
The singles finalists also captured the doubles title, beating Chloe and Paige Woods in the final in straight sets with the Alpha pair having involved in a tight semi-final clash with their clubmates Laura Bell and Lucy Xu, before booking their place in the final on a 21-13 20-22 21-14 scoreline.
ULSTER U11 OPEN
Jeffrey Rong and Amira Pender were to dominate the Ulster U11 Open with each player winning a double haul of titles.
Jeffrey was to progress through his Group stage with a victory over both Robert Cowman and Riley Lynas and in the semi-final was to record a 21-7 21-9 win over Isaac Cardy while in the other semi-final Deacon Cheung came out on top 21-18 21-15 against Corey Chambers.
In the final it was Jeffrey Rong who was to lift the title beating Deacon Cheung 21-8 21-11 and in the Boy’s Doubles Jeffrey Rong and Kaden Tang were to beat Corey Chambers and Robert Cowman 21-13 21-15.
Amira Pender had to work hard for her victories in the Girl’s Singles winning two of her three victories in three sets. Against Liya Prakas, she was to find herself one set in arrears having lost the opening set 21-19 but ran out a 21-12 21-17 victor and dropped the opening set to Hannah Shochan 21-12 but came back strongly to win 21-4 21-15, clinching her title with a 21-7 21-10 victory over Ananya Gopinath.
The Pender/Shochan partnership was to reign supreme in the Girl’s Doubles beating Gopinath/Prakas 21-9 21-10 while in the Mixed Doubles Kaden Tang and Hannah Shochan recorded three victories in the round-robin group stage while Robert Cowman and Liya Prakas finished with two wins but losing to Tang/Shochan 21-14.