Mixed fortunes for players

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There was a change of venue from Harlaw Academy to Northfield Academy for this year’s North-east restricted badminton tournament.

As usual, three three age groups were catered for, U13 on the Saturday and U15 and U17 on the Sunday, with both singles and doubles events being staged.

The U13 age group attracted a record amount of entries this year with 35 players - remarkably 19 girls and 16 boys. Saturday kicked off with the boys’ singles event which was split into four groups, the winner of each progressing to the semi-final.

Matthew Duguid, Stuart Holley and Jack Murray (all Stonehaven) and Steaphan Connell (Milltimber) secured the top spots.

Jack lost to Matthew in a well-fought contest, 21-10, 21-14, and Steaphan claimed victory over Stuart in an even closer battle, 21-17, 21-18.

The final between Matthew and Steaphan, as usual, proved an exciting encounter with many long and skilful rallies. In the end, Matthew proved the stronger on the day taking the title 21-15, 21-11.

The boys’ doubles event saw the same four faces contest the final, with Jack teaming up with Steaphan and Matthew with Stuart, each pair having won their respective groups without dropping a set. Once again, the experienced partnership of Matthew and Stuart proved just too strong on the day winning the tie 21-17, 21-15, a fantastic effort from Jack and Steaphan.

In the girls singles event, there were also four groups, which is an increase on previous years. There were several upsets in the girls event, with some of the younger players, U10’s and U11’s making their presence felt by overcoming some of the older but lessexperienced players. All games were played in great spirit with seeds Becky Flaherty (Banchory) and Kiera Dalton and Freya McKay (Milltmber) and Eilidh Mitchell (Stonehaven) U11, taking the spoils to progress to the semis. Freya played well, but was always playing catch-up, losing out to Becky 21-6, 21-4. The other semi was a much closer affair with Keira having to play exceptionally well to overcome an on-form Eilidh 21-16, 21-17. Becky and Keira are regular rivals and always deliver a great performance and this final was no exception. With tremendous skill, composure and some great rallies, the spectators were treated to a superb final, Becky taking the honours in three sets, 21-6, 19-21, 21-8. With only two groups in the doubles event, Keira and Becky once again featured in the final against young opposition, Catriona Holley (10) and Maria Leith (nine), both Stonehaven. Although slightly overawed in the first game, the youngsters fought back in the second, but the fight back came just too late and Keira and Becky won the match 21-7, 21-15, a fantastic performance by all concerned. Sunday started with the U15 boy’s events with 13 entries, again split into four groups. Matthew Duguid was back in action trying to repeat the previous days double title success however to repeat this he had to overcome Mackie Academy school mate Sean Leith in the semi-final. The other semi-final saw Cameron Pyper pitched against Mark Leith. Matthew competed well but struggled against the more experienced and older player, Sean winning the match 21-11, 21-5. Younger brother Mark had a more challenging encounter with Cameron almost getting the better of him in the first set. Mark, however, composed himself and took control of the second set, winning the tie 22-20, 21-12. The final saw the Leith brothers head-to-head and although Mark seemed in control in the first set, Sean managed to fight back to win 21-18. The second was very similar with both boys proving their justification of a finals place, Sean claiming victory in the end, 21-18, 21-18. The doubles saw the Leith brothers in action again this time on the same side of the net where they met Matthew and Steaphan Connell in the final, again Matthew and Steaphan unfortunate to lose the encounter after a great performance, 21-9, 21-18. The U15 girl’s event only attracted six entries, however the standard of play was very high. In the singles event Becky managed to add to her titles from the previous day beating Chloe Tough, Stonehaven, in a very tight-fought match, 24-22, 21-13. In the doubles event, Chloe had her revenge when she lifted the title with schoolmate Laura Townsend, beating Banchory Academy pupils Becky and Jenny Paterson 21-18, 21-20 and Holly Thomson and Eve Gammack, Mackie Academy, 21-17, 21-14, all very close matches. 10 boys were entered in the U17 boy’s events. The singles was split into two groups of five, with Scott Duncan and Josh Halliday, both Mackie Academy progressing to the final, and what a final it was. End to end play, deception, power play, it had it all. Scott dropped his first set of the day losing 21-16; however undeterred he turned the tables winning the 2nd and 3rd sets 21-19, 21-19 to lift the title. Josh and Scott then teamed up in the doubles and were undefeated their closest match being against Callum Roberts, Banchory and Chris Stokeld, Cults, which went to three sets, 20-21, 21-13, 21-19, securing them the title. This was a well-organised event, supported by players and spectators.