BADMINTON: Local stars heading for Spain

Niall McVeigh.
Niall McVeigh.

This week the Pabellon Municipal Alcudia plays host to the Spanish Para-Badminton International in Majorca with local players confident that they can be returning home with a few medals with Niall McVeigh in particular hoping to improve on his bronze in the 2015 competition.

Last year in the Irish Para Badminton International, when the Antrim Forum hosted the prestigious event, McVeigh was runner-up the Men’s Singles to Didin Taresoh after knocking out England’s Jack Shepherd 24-22 in the deciding set.

As usual the local players will face very stiff competition from a top class entry with England’s Krystem Coombs, Andrew Martin and Shepherd likely to have a say in the final stages while in the SS6 Men’s Doubles McVeigh will be teaming up with Chun Yim Wong (Hong Kong).

Back in April 2015 McVeigh reached the semi-final of the singles in Spain, losing out to the eventual champion Coombs in three sets and was runner-up to Coombs in the final of the European Para-Badminton Championships in the Netherlands so he is looking forward with a great deal of confidence to getting back onto the winners’ podium in Spain.

Andrew Moorcroft is also in the draw for the Men’s Singles SS6 and will be keen to see his own progress over the past year.

When Antrim hosted, last year Moorcroft teamed up with his Alpha team-mate, Emma Farnham, and they were runners-up in the SS6 Mixed Doubles Exhibition, narrowly losing out to English pair Andrew Martin and Rachel Choong having knocked out Paul and Randika Doling.

Last November in the European Championships Emma and Andrew took the eventual champions Andrew Martin and Rachel Choong (England) to three sets in the round robin group stage of the mixed doubles which was certainly a morale boosting performance.

Emma Farnham will once again be teaming up once again with Maria Bartusz (Poland) in the doubles and they could well cause an upset.

Laura Lee Jenkins, in the Women’s Singles Wheelchair 1 class in the Irish Para Badminton International in Antrim, could hardly have wished for a more difficult draw meeting the No. 4 seed, Elke Rongen, in her second group stage match after a 21-17 21-9 victory over Heidi Manninen. Partnering Scotland’s Fiona Christie in the Doubles, she also faced top seeds Sonja Haesler and Karin Suter-Erath which highlights the importance of the draw.

Chris Stewart will be partnering Laura in the Mixed Doubles and there is a very strong entry for this class.

It goes without stating the obvious that Stephen Halpin is also in a very competitive Mens Singles with an entry of 25 but in the past he has certainly shown he can compete at this level while Chris Stewart also finds the same strong competition in the Men’s Singles WH1 classification with 22 entries.

Women’s Doubles Gives second Title To Chan-Taylor

Sarah Cherry and Rachel Stewart had the unenviable task of having to defeat the top two players in the Women’s Singles if they were to consider lifting the Women’s Doubles title.

Although the singles finalists, Chan Taylor and Comer, were to romp through the opening set 21-9, Cherry and Stewart made a tactical change which resulted in them launching a serious bid to capture the second set and take the match into a decider. However, when it mattered most, Alex and Anna secured the title 21-9 22-20.

Azhar Secures Third Title

Anna Comer’s bid to secure her second title of the day in the Mixed Doubles, partnering Oran O’Connor, was to go down to the wire when they booked their place in the final with a 21-9 21-11 win over Luke Buchanan and Victoria McIlorum and a 21-10 21-9 victory over James Boyd and Sarah Cherry.

There was a surprise though in Group A when Alpha pair, Matthew Robb and Alex Chan Taylor, failed to make the final after losing to Azhar Syed and Shauna Kenneally (21-19 21-15).

With Syed having already the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles in the bag, he was to have a major impact on the final and ensured his hat-trick bid was successful with Oran and Anna unable to snatch either set and having to be content with runners-up (21-18 21-17).

Local Schools Win Ulster Titles

Lisburn schools covered themselves in glory recently in the Ulster Schools Finals at Lisburn Racquets Club.

Hunterhouse, able to call on a very strong line-up including Rachael and Rebecca Woods, Caitlin Steele and Summer Ferguson, lifted the Senior Cup after beating Royal & Prior 5-1. They also came out on top in the Junior League Division 1 although they were to be taken to 3-3 by Friends’ and only secured the victory by seven points. Their side was led by Lara Geddis, Zara Bell, Charlotte Hutchinson and Louise Bell.

Meanwhile Harmony Hill not only lifted the Girls’ Primary Cup, beating Friends, but also added the Primary League title.

Friends’ however lifted the Senior Girls’ League Division One, beating Royal & Prior to the title but had to be content with runners-up also in the Primary Cup, Junior Cup, Primary League and Minor League Division 2 and the Junior League Division One.

In the Boys Finals, Pond Park captured both the Primary Cup and Primary League beating Harmony Hill into runners-up position in both competitions.

All credit must go to the Pond Park side who did not concede a single match in the Cup winning 6-0 while in the league first singles went to three sets before securing a 5-1 win for Pond Park. Their side was Neel Reedy, Jack McElhinney, Joshua Tsang, Ross Glover and Daniel Orr.

Wallace and Friends’ were to come out on top in the Senior League Division 2 and Senior League Division 1 respectively.

Wallace were runners-up to RBAI in three competitions in the Year 8 Cup, the Junior Cup and the Junior League Division 1.