Last weekend Rachael and Rebecca Woods were competing in the Gold Star Under 17 Series in Milton Keynes and although they narrowly failed to reach the latter stages of the Girls Singles Gold Star Series they showed impressive form in the Girls Doubles reaching the final.
Seeded No3/4 they won their opening match against Maisie Marriott and Bronwynn Ready 21-4 21-8 in just over 20 minutes but were made to fight all the way in their second having won the first 21-9 as Anchal Garg and Zoe Siu made a match of it only for the Hunterhouse pair to seal the victory 23-21 without going to a deciding set.
In the quarter-final Ella Haines and Emma Hooper were their opponents but it was the seeded pair from the Alpha club in Lisburn who were to book their place in the semi with a convincing 21-13 21-9 win and a clash with Abbygael Harris (Staffordshire) and Kiara Henry (Warwickshire) was their reward. Their opponents had earlier caused a major upset when they knocked out the highly rated No2 seeds Alice Campbell and Rachel Sugden 21-14 21-14.
The experienced English pair were not in the same league as the Irish pair as they saw an opportunity to reach the final particularly as the No3/4 seeds Asmita Chaudhari and Pamela Reyes were to spring a major surprise when they knocked out the top seeds Annie Lado and Hope Warner 26-24 21-16 in the other semi-final.
Rachael and Rebecca swept through to the final 21-11 21-13 and playing certainly some of their very best badminton they were to take the English pair on point for point. There was nothing between the two pairs and Asmita and Pamela snatched the opening set 21-19 with Rebecca and Rachael responding in the only way they could by capturing the second 21-19 in a real spectacle which had spectators on the edges of their seats.
It was only in the deciding set that the Lisburn pair began to falter and the third set went in favour of the English pair 21-10.
In the Girls Singles Rachael was to open her bid for the Gold Star Series against the highly rated Asmita Chaudhari but found herself one set down before getting her game together. Poised to level and take the match into the deciding set it was however Chaudhari who was to snatch the set from her grasp 22-20 to go top of the Group and leaving Rachael to ponder on what might have been and needing to ensure that she could not afford any further mistakes against Alice Campbell (Scotland) and Chelsea Huang later in the day.
Rachael was to get back on track in her second match winning the opening set 21-10 against the impressive Scot Alice Campbell and held on to take the second 23-21 in a match lasting just over the half-hour mark.
In her final match in the group stages Rachael seeded No3/4 faced Chelsea Huang and after going one set up, the Alpha player had the second snatched from her grasp 20-22 but retained her composure to win her second game of the group 21-18 only to miss the semi-final due to her first opponent Asmita Chaudhari having won all three of her matches .
Meanwhile, twin sister Rebecca gave Abbygail Harris (Staffordshire) quite a fright in her opening match in Group D, despite losing the first set 23-21 she snatched the second 21-19. Harris ranked 53 in England took the decider 21-14 after 53 minutes on court and Rebecca was then needing to upset the No3/4 seed Pamela Reyes in her next match. In their only previous encounter back almost a year ago the pair had fought out a tight three setter after Rebecca had taken the opening set 21-17 but lost 21-15 21-11 in the Under 15 Gold in Leigh.
This time Reyes, seeded No ¾ secured a 21-12 21-17 victory over Rebecca in just short of half an hour on court and missed out on an appearance in the semi-final when she had to come back from one set in arrears to Alexandra Oprisan.
In the Mixed Doubles Rebecca and James Lin reached the quarter-final with a straight games victory over Michael Maguire and Jodie Harris and followed this up with a 21-18 21-17 win over Jack Taylor and Alicia Adams. However their challenge was halted when they faced William Jones and Asmita Chaudhari, the No3/4 seeds who won 21-12 21-14.
Article by Brian Kelly.