U14’s take Shires League Title!

After a fantastic season for Team Leicestershire which has seen the county make the Shires League finals for all age groups for the first time, the U14’s made their way to the Aldersley Stadium in Wolverhampton determined to improve on the highest placing so far of 6th by the U16 team!

Luke Hoult, Owen King, Ayush Panchal, Lewis Whyley

Tilly Dale, Evie Pike, Grace Sherwin, Sophie Watson

Having finished 3rd overall in the league from the group stages, the team were hoping to reap the benefit of a draw against one of the lower placed teams and waited with fingers crossed as the matches were read out; Leicestershire were to play….Cheshire! The team broke into wild cheers and dancing – anyone would have thought we had won already!! It was time to settle the nerves and excitement and focus on the job in hand against one of the teams we knew we could beat and overcome the first hurdle to earn a guaranteed top 4 finish.

The team made a flying start with all 4 pairs of Luke & Sophie, Owen & Grace, Ayush & Tilly and Lewis & Evie recording straightforward wins to go into a 4-0 lead. The Cheshire boys fielded a stronger team than their girls and managed to pull back wins against Owen and Lewis but Luke and Ayush both took their games. With the Leicestershire girls proving too strong in all matches for the young Cheshire girls, the score after the singles was 10-2 leaving Team Leics with only a single win needed from the remaining 8 level doubles. While the boys again found the Cheshire lads tough opponents, the girls came through to easily win all 4 of their games for a final overall score:

Leicestershire 15  Cheshire 5

After a short rest and refuel, it was time for the draw for Round 2 and the team had all fingers crossed for another helpful draw…but it wasn’t to be this time. Hampshire it was and the team knew this would be a much bigger hurdle to overcome. However, team spirit was high and after some changes to the starting order by Team Manager Amie, it was time to get started.

In the mixed, Luke & Grace fought hard against Hampshire’s Hillman & Jones but were unable to overcome a very strong pair. Owen & Sophie levelled the score with a 21-16 win against the 2nd pair. Neither Tilly & Ayush nor Lewis & Evie could get past their opponents although Lewis & Evie came very close, only losing narrowly to 19. Going into the singles 1-3 was not the start we had hoped for but the team stayed positive. Singles were predictably tough against a team with strength in depth and only Luke, with a fabulous win against Sam Jones, and Grace were able to win their games.

The score going into the level doubles was now 3-9 to Hampshire who only needed to take 2 of the 8 remaining games for the outright win. Things looked bleak for the green and yellows; however, one thing the Leicestershire lads and lasses are not is quitters but they would need every ounce of their grit and determination to pull this one back!

So the team began to process of reeling Hampshire back in, one game at a time. Luke & Owen won against a very tough Hampshire first pair 21-16 and Ayush & Lewis gave it everything they had to just pip the 2nd pair 21-20. With Luke & Owen winning against the 2nd pair in the reverse levels but the Hampshire top pair being too strong for Ayush & Lewis, the score was now 6-10. The girls would have to win every one of the 4 remaining matches just to level the match! Could they do it?

Hampshire, for some reason, decided to concede their first match due to an injury to one of their 1st pair girls, (a decision they would later regret bitterly) which gave us a much needed 21-0 win. With Evie & Grace absolutely determined to give it their all, knowing that every point might be the difference between winning and losing this rubber, they walked off court 21-8 winners against the Hampshire 2nd pair. The score now 8-10! Sophie & Tilly also beat the 2nd Hampshire girls 21-10: the score 9-10. What had seemed like an almost impossible task at the start of the level doubles now seemed like it just might be possible. All Evie & Grace needed to do was beat Sophie Hillman, one of the top girls of this age group in the UK! By now, all the players and parents were crowded round the last match on court, cheering for their teams (those that could bear to watch anyhow!). The points racked up, Evie & Grace putting everything they had into keeping the shuttle away from Hillman and putting every bit of pressure they could on the weaker Hampshire girl. As Gravie began to hit their stride, they started to pull away from the Hampshire pair earning themselves a match point at 20-16 up. As the shuttle hit the ground on the Hampshire side of the net, the room erupted into wild cheering, the Leicestershire players all hugging each other and their parents. They’d done it! Coming back from 3-9 down they had managed to level the rubber at 10-10.

Now all that was left to do was wait on the dreaded count back. With so many close games during the rubber, it was impossible to call this one. It was obviously very close as the counting and verifying seemed to go on for hours! Eventually the players were called round and the victory was officially awarded to…. Leicestershire!! By just 2 points! The kids and parents went crazy all over again, Amie was now in tears – the team had just earned themselves a top 2 finish by dint of sheer hard work, effort and determination to never say die and never give up!

Leicestershire 10  –  Hampshire 10  (Leicestershire win by 2 points)

With just one more rubber left to play to determine if it would be the gold or the silver medal, the Team knew it would be another tough match and indeed, soon the kids discovered it would be Yorkshire. We had beaten the white roses in the group stages already; however the Leicestershire team were missing Eve Durrance today and with Yorkshire fielding a stronger team than previously, we knew it would be difficult to match the 13-7 win from earlier in the season. But with nothing left to lose or prove, the kids huddled around for one last pep talk from Amie and one last chance to draw strength from the team spirit that had buoyed them all up throughout the day.

Onto the final and the kids were determined to leave everything out on the courts in their efforts to win gold for Leicestershire at a Shires Final for the very first time ever. The Yorkshire 1st pair proved too strong for Luke & Grace but Owen & Sophie levelled the score with a 21-17 win against the 2nd pair. Ayush & Tilly lost to a very strong 3rd pair but Lewis & Evie dug deep and played their best ever mixed game to beat their opponents 21-16 and halve the mixed 2-2. Typically Yorkshire are stronger in singles than Leicestershire so every win was now going to matter. Luke dug deep to win a very close encounter 21-19 and while neither Owen nor Ayush could match their opponents, Lewis played the best singles of his life to take his match convincingly 21-11. After a few close recent losses against Katherine Arksey, Sophie dominated today’s match, walking off a 21-17 winner. Having lost to her opponent Grace Sachdeva in every one of their previous 4 meetings, our Grakkers knew that nothing less than her very best would do; after falling behind early in the match, Grace never gave up, coming back strongly in the final stages against her very skilful opponent to snatch the win 21-20! What a time to finally beat your nemesis – the joy on her face showing how much this win meant to her personally as well as for the team! With Tilly also earning an excellent win against a strong Yorkshire girl, only Evie was unable to convert her pressure to defeat her opponent, losing to 17 but working hard to put every point on the board.

With the scoreline 7-5 in Leicestershire’s favour after the singles and with just the level doubles to play, the team knew victory was within reach now. Luke & Owen made the perfect start to win 21-16 with Ayush and an on-fire Lewis also snatching a 21-18 win against the Yorkshire 2nd pair to bring the score to 9-5 and just 2 more wins needed! Although Ayush & Lewis couldn’t hold off the 1st pair, meanwhile Sophie & Tilly just managed to hold on for a 21-20 win to ensure the rubber would at least be drawn! With Luke & Owen on court against the Yorkshire seconds, it was their 21-9 victory which took the score to the all-important figure of 11 wins and the team knew they had done it!! They had won the gold!!! Understandably it was difficult to focus on the remaining games knowing we had already won overall but the final score was recorded as:

Leicestershire 12  –  Yorkshire 8

With just the winners’ presentation and photographs left to organise, parents, players and perhaps coach were left looking at each other in various states of shock, elation and disbelief. Although Team Leics had started the day as one of the top 4 teams in the league table, everyone knew what a massive task it was going to be to take on the might of all the very top counties like Surrey, Yorkshire and Hampshire fielding their strongest teams. But with an exemplary determination to work for every single point, positive thinking and a commitment to working tirelessly for the team, they had taken on the rest and proved themselves to be the best! Leicestershire topped the U14 Shires League table for the 2016/17 season, not only a first for this team but also the first time Leicestershire had ever achieved this accolade, in any of the age groups. With the gold medals safely round their necks, the team dispersed for the journey home, with all of them taking away memories of a day they will never forget, the day when they were crowned National champions!

Our very warmest congratulations to all the players and to Team Manager Amie Hoult who has worked so hard to build such a solid and tight-knit team throughout the season!

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“Lets’s go Leicester we’re the best, we are Leicester we beat the rest!!”
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U14 Shires League Winners 2016/17: Owen King, Luke Hoult, Team Manager Amie Hoult, Ayush Panchal, Lewis Whyley, Evie Pike, Sophie Watson, Grace Sherwin & Tilly Dale
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U14 Shires League Finalists 2016/17: Hampshire 3rd, Yorkshire 2nd, Leicestershire 1st

Sophie & Luke go to Glasgow!

U13yrs Glasgow International Youth Team & Individual Championships

Ian Watson heard about this team event and decided to investigate to see if a team could enter, but was told that they had enough English teams entered, that was the end of that. BUT as there was an individual event on the Saturday he thought it would be such a good experience for Sophie and Luke to enter, partners were found for the doubles, so off to Glasgow, Luke partnering his regular tournament partner Jake Prentice and Sophie with Megan Brierley from Notts. Then out of the blue a call came to ask if they would like to make up a team in the Team Championships on the Friday with a Portuguese girl and a lad from Barbados, they jumped at the chance to do this. Ian appointed Amie as manager, a team name was needed quickly so they went under the banner of Leicestershire PC.

The team travelled up on the Thursday evening and were on the courts for 10am on Friday. The team bonded straight way and new friendships were soon made. All the players played fantastic in all their games. The first match was v Scotland a tight match that they just won 3-2, a great match v Wales gave them a 4-1 win, just Team Skyfall to go they stormed ahead and got another 4-1 win. The team were buzzing as this meant that they then had to play the winner of group 2 which turned out to be the mighty Ireland national team who had just come from a fantastic win over Webber Badminton Academy 3-2 ,  this win would give the team gold ! After a lot of thought on how to play this match and get their hands on the trophy the team was selected. A great start to the match as Sophie and Luke took the mixed in 3, and another win in a brilliant 3 setter in the singles by Jake sent them 2 – 0 up. We lost the girls singles so wanted either the boys or girls doubles to clinch the win, Luke and Jake had a gruelling but brilliant 3 setter that they just lost, but the Sophie and Megan were too strong for their Irish opponents and took the game in 2 ends, Victory was ours!!!!! We had only gone and won the event. It just goes to show what can happen, it was an absolutely brilliant team effort and a Friday that the players and their parents will never forget.

Individual Event

After a celebratory meal out on Friday night the players started over again early on Saturday morning with the singles.  Luke won both his singles in his box which took him through to the next round, but coming up against the number 1 seed Lakshay Sharma from India was a bit too much for Luke he fought hard but lost in 2 ends, 21-12, 21-10. Jake did really well getting through to the quarters of the singles but unfortunately lost in 2 ends. But the good news was he got through to the semis of the mixed doubles and boys doubles with Luke, Megan from Notts got through to the semi-finals of the singles and the doubles with Sophie. Sophie and Luke had a very difficult mixed draw as they were up against the number 1 seed , they played as well as they could giving everything they had in a very hard 3 setter but just losing out , the scores were 22-20 12-21 21-17.

On the final day once again Luke and Jake were drawn against the number 1 seeds from Indian in the doubles –  3 times in one weekend!!! They played a fantastic match taking the first end 22-20, the second end was neck and neck all the way and ended in a 23- 21 loss, the lads had given their all and the 3rd was just too much for them; the mental strength of the opponents won through and they lost 21-8. But losing semi-finalists was a great achievement in such a competitive tournament. Unfortunately Jake also lost his mixed. It was a different story for the girls, Sophie and Megan stormed ahead and won their semi convincingly in 2 ends and they were in the final. The final was a tough affair against a strong pair, Sophie and Megan worked hard against the formidable number 1 seeds but unfortunately on this occasion came away as runners up.  But again for the girls a fantastic achievement a runners up medal in an international tournament.

What a great experience for all the players playing at the Scottish National Centre on the international arena!

Report by Carole Spencer

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Individual event: Girls Doubles Winners & Runners-up
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Team Leicestershire PC

U16 Open Gold for Jess & Izzy!

Fresh from last weekend’s successful campaign with the Team Leicestershire U16’s at the Shires League Finals, Izzy Pike & Jess Rodgers made their way to the Cheshire U16 Open to play in one of the last tournaments of a very busy and successful season for the pair.

Jess played her way out of her singles group including an excellent 21-10 win against the seed, Chloe King, before earning a place in the semi final with another good win to 18 against Worcestershire’s Aditi Bhat. Warwickshire’s Mia Kirk proved too strong in the semi-final but it was a bronze medal for Jess, and with the Leicestershire pair seeded #2 and on the opposite side of the doubles draw to Kirk and her partner Catherine Wong, maybe a chance to even the score later in the tournament?

As expected, Izzy & Jess progressed through without a loss to the final where they indeed were to face the Warwickshire pair. Having played each other twice before with both games being very close and the tally being a win apiece, both pairs were expecting another tight match. However, the Leicestershire girls grabbed control of this match from the very first point, with excellent service returns and finding the spaces around the court being a feature of their game. The Warwickshire girls were  effectively shut out of the game, with the final scoreline being an easy victory 21-8 and another gold medal for Izzy & Jess!

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Izzy & Jess

U16’s take on Shires League Finals!

Having earned a place on Finals Day by beating an excellent Hampshire side by the narrowest of margins in the playoffs, Team Leicestershire’s U16’s travelled to Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury on Sunday 14th May with a determination to prove worthy of their place in this season’s final 8….

The team:

Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough

Jess Allen, Tamsin Betts, Izzy Pike, Jess Rodgers

With the top 4 counties of Surrey, Bucks, Warwickshire and Essex playing one of the bottom 4 in the first round, the team knew they would be in for a torrid time in the first rubber! Having drawn Essex, it was time to make a start. Typically strong in the mixed doubles, Leicestershire flew into an early lead with Harry & Izzy just squeezing past their opponents 21-20, closely followed by Rowan & Jess and Joe & Tamsin both winning to 17 for an early 3-1 lead. Moving on to singles, Harry and Joe both worked to earn wins and although only Tamsin would manage a win for the girls, Leicestershire stayed in touch to trail by 5-7 going into the last 8 level doubles games.

With the strong Essex boys taking 3 of the 4 boys games, Essex only had to take one of the 4 remaining girls encounters for the outright win. Jess & Tamsin just edged past the Essex 1st pair 21-20 while Jess & Izzy dispatched the 2nd pair 21-16 to close the gap to 8-10. As the levels reversed, Izzy & Jess worked hard to keep touch with the Essex top pair, knowing they had to win to keep Leicestershire in the rubber. Could they do it? Yes they could! A 21-18 win leaving Jess & Tamsin with just the 2nd pair to beat, which they did with their usual calm demeanour and superb defence 21-18.

As the teams gathered round the courts at 10-10, calculators worked furiously on both sides and it was a while before it could be confirmed: a win for Essex by just 2 points! Although disappointed to have lost so narrowly, the team can be proud to have chased one of the top counties so close and only missing out on a top 4 finish by 2 points!

Leicestershire 10   Essex 10 (Essex win by 2 points)

With Cheshire confirmed as our next opponents, the team were determined to capitalise on an excellent performance in Round 1. Once again, they flew out of the blocks, winning 3 of the 4 mixed with Harry & Izzy, Rowan & Jess and Joe & Tamsin recording easy victories. Although Sameer and Harry and Jess & Izzy were unable to overcome their top 2 singles opponents, both Rowan & Joe and Jess & Tamsin worked hard for wins, with Rowan and Joe doing particularly well to beat their more highly graded Cheshire counterparts. Going into the level doubles, this left Leicestershire leading 7-5 and needing to win 4 of the remaining 8 games to win outright.

With both Harry & Rowan and Sameer & Joe winning one apiece, could the girls do the same? Yes they could! In fact, they cleaned up all 4 of their level doubles for a good Leicestershire victory:

Leicestershire  13   Cheshire  7

The last rubber of the day was a playoff for 5th/6th place against a Yorkshire side unlucky to find themselves outside the top 4 going into the Finals. The team knew they would need to put in a big final effort if they were to push themselves ahead of a side which had already beaten them during the group stage and which was at full strength after having fielded a slightly weaker team during the last encounter.

Once again, mixed doubles gave Leicestershire a positive start with both Harry & Izzy and Rowan & Jess putting in excellent wins for a 2-2 scoreline going into the singles. With Yorkshire fielding 8 very strong singles players, Leicestershire were unable to put a win on the board, leaving them 2-10 down and Yorkshire only needing to win 1 of the last 8 level doubles games to win outright. It was too big a mountain to climb this time. Harry & Rowan wrested their game from the 2nd Yorkshire pair while both Jess & Tamsin and Izzy & Jess managed a win apiece but it wasn’t enough. The final score:

Leicestershire  5   Yorkshire  15

So Team Leicestershire ended U16’s Finals Day and the 2016/17 Shires League season in 6th place, a fantastic achievement for a team which had to do it the hard way after facing both Warwickshire and Yorkshire in the group round followed by another very tough match against Hampshire in the playoffs. And but for those 2 points, they would have achieved a stunning upset to earn them a top 4 finish alongside powerhouse counties such as Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Warwickshire! Congratulations to all the players!

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Team Leicestershire U16 Shires League Finalists: Rowan, Joe, Sameer, Harry, Jess A, Jess R, Tamsin & Izzy

Ashby Boys take on the Nationals!

National Schools Championships Finals

Having won through from the Regional round a few weeks previously, Saturday 6th May 2017 was Finals Day for the Ashby School boys, Harry Clare, Kieran Evans, Joe Goodenough and Marcus Kilby with the event being held at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.

First match up was Gosforth Academy:

Both Harry and Joe worked hard in their singles; both were close matches but Harry won through 21-20 and Joe followed suit 21-19. This was followed up by 3 straight wins in the doubles 21-16, 21-18 and 21-17

Ashby School 5   Gosforth 0

Next up was Tapton School and the boys knew that they would have a tough match against last year’s overall winners. They all played fantastically well; Harry losing a tough singles against a C grade player 13-21 and Joe losing to a very tough Yorkshire player 12-21. Kieran and Marcus won the only game Ashby could manage 21-13 with the other boys’ doubles going to Tapton School:

Ashby School 1   Tapton School 4

Having come 2nd in the initial round Ashby moved on to play for positions 4 – 6 in a tough box with St Olave’s and Birkdale School. Both rubbers were very close with both the opposing teams fielding D grade players. Unfortunately the Ashby boys lost both rubbers 2-3; so close and with a 20-21 loss in one of the boys’ doubles against Birkdale it could so easily have been a win!

The final position for Ashby School: 6th place out of the 9 schools contesting the finals but considering over 4600 schools entered, it was an amazing achievement. A great day for the boys was rounded off by winning the ‘Best Selfie of the Day’ award!!

Ashby School PE teacher, Heather Scullion said: “I was massively proud of how the boys conducted themselves throughout the whole competition. They displayed superb sportsmanship and were true ambassadors of our school”

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Ashby School KS4 Boys: Marcus Kilby, Harry Clare, Joe Goodenough & Kieran Evans

School League 2016/17: Regional Round

At the end of another Schools League season, the following schools were crowned Leicestershire county champions:

KS3 Girls:  Loughborough High School

KS3 Boys:  Newbridge High School

KS4 Girls:  King Edward VII

KS4 Boys:  Ashby School

This earned them the right to represent their county at the Regional Finals in Loughborough, playing against the winners of all the other county rounds in the East Midlands region.

After a great day’s competition, the Loughborough High girls ended the day 5th, the Newbridge boys 4th and the King Ed girls, 3rd. However, the Ashby boys went further, managing a fantastic overall 1st place and a place at Finals day – the National round! Congratulations to Harry Clare, Kieran Evans, Joe Goodenough and Marcus Kilby on a great achievement!

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KS4 Boys Regional Champions: Ashby School

 

 

U14’s Pay Annual Visit to York!

What a fantastic weekend of badminton for our U14’s in York. Some entered the individual tournament on the Saturday; Tilly Dale came away with a silver in doubles and Luke Hoult with a bronze in singles and doubles. Grace Sherwin reached the quarter-finals in singles and William Sewell also did well, playing 2 years above his age group.

We had a great night at the Buckles Inn celebrating Tilly’s 13th birthday. The kids definitely enjoyed the dares! Oh and we must not forget the party bus ride home!! I’m sure it will be talked about all year!

The Sunday team tournament was amazing. From start to finish the whole team, came together and everyone played their part. We knew we had to beat Surrey to go through to the top half and be in with a chance of a medal. With some very close games we managed to play it right and got a 4-3 win. Definitely a team effort! We then went into the top half and had to play Notts, which meant deliberating about the team over and over! The team all played fantastically again to beat a good Notts side.

So now we were playing for 1st position which was amazing. We took on Yorkshire’s 1st team; unfortunately for them they had 1 girl and 1 boy short so had to forfeit the mixed but we didn’t mind! Although we were then left wondering how after going 1-0 down they then started winning every match?! We were really up for it and took it right down to the last 3 matches, needing all 3 for the overall win! Ayush & Lewis were first off court with a win, Tilly & Sophie followed up with the second which just left Grace & Evie on court playing for the very last match. All the parents and players were going crazy, such a great atmosphere – and they only went and won! So we beat Yorkshire 4-3 to be crowned champions and awarded the gold medals.

This format gives some younger players the opportunity to compete and they did a brilliant job, with 2 of the players being only U12’s.

It was a fantastic result and a pleasure to manage them. Well done Team Leicestershire U14

Match report by Amie Hoult, U14 Team Manager

The team:

Luke, Ayush, Owen, Lewis, Tom & William

Sophie, Tilly, Evie, Grace, Georgina & Carly

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