Another win for the U18s!

Report by Mitch Dale

Leicestershire v Northants under 18 Shires – 11th December 2016

The match kicked off a bit late as the manager was “running a bit late”, the washing up hadn’t been done (thanks though to Sam) and there was a certain lack of a willing match reporter.

With Cameron Collins ably supporting Chris Hall, and Laura acting as ‘mum’ the match eventually started at 10.19am.

11 minutes later at 10.30 Eve and Ryan disposed of the number four pair 21-2, 21-4. Just 3 minutes later Jas and Tom walked off the court too. One minute later a similar story with Ella and Martin, and with the final match finishing after just 16 minutes with a closer match with Hritika and Nikhil winning 21-18, 21-11. Leicestershire winning all four matches in 2. Leicestershire 4-0 up. A great start.

After a quick turnaround the singles commenced. Hritika, Eve, Martin and Tom started their respective matches at 10.42. Again, 11 minutes later Eve shook hands with her partner after a 21-4, 21-3 victory. One minute, later at 10.54, Hritika beat the number one girl 21-6, 21-6 and again, one minute later (the reporter struggling to keep up) as he then spotted Martin walking off the court (blister appearing to be intact!) following a proficient 21-11, 21-9 win over the number one boy.

The reporter was able to have a quick slurp of his hangover curing second black coffee as Tom was having some longer rallies with his opponent. Whilst Tom was still battling away in his focussed manner, at 10.59, Ella, Izzy and Nikhil started their respective singles matches. Ryan, patiently waiting on the sidelines for Tom to start the final eight single tie. Tom’s battle eventually finishing at 11.08, after a gruelling 26 minutes winning 21-16, 21-12.

By the time Ryan was to go onto the court, Ella and Izzy were already one nil up and it took just 13 minutes in total for Izzy to win hers convincingly, following 6 minutes later by Nikhil and Ella again winning theirs both 2-0, with very few games going to double figures.

By 11.18, Ryan was the only one still in a match on court. By 11.30 the overall tie was effectively all over with Ryan securing the final singles win in a tighter first game finishing 21-15 and then fully in control in the second winning 21-4.

With just the doubles to go Leicestershire were 12-0 up. The notepad was passed over to Laura as the first stage reporter had got a date with Santa at Twin Lakes. Northants seem to getting frustrated at the strength and depth of the Leicestershire squad being forced into errors.

Text and social media updates followed to Eve during the doubles with the satisfying text being received from Laura confirming the 20-0 victory after all eight mixed doubles were won.

At 2.30pm Santa was visited and at 10.04 (pm this time), the report was all typed up! (And Matt has won the X Factor!)

U17 North Midway Badminton League tournament

 

Sunday 6th November saw a team of 10 Team Leicestershire players and parents heading off up north to Sheffield for the first of this season’s North Midway tournaments.
It was the first leg, seven teams entered altogether and it was to be played as a ’round robin’, each team playing all the others.
Our first match was against Yorkshire 2, a brilliant start with Tom C and Eve, Marcus and Izzy taking both mixed. In the singles Dan won his convincingly 21-15 and Matt showed great determination and grit to only narrowly only lose his singles 20-21. Next our very own pocket rocket, Tamsin, with her skill and usual cool head won her first singles of the day 21-12 and Emily battled hard in a close fought match losing 19-21.The level doubles saw our ‘sat nav’ team, Tom and Tom, Dan and Matt, Izzy and Jess (fresh from their glittering successes the day before!) and Tamsin and Emily successfully beat off the opposition with 4 straight wins.
Leicestershire –  8 Yorkshire 2 – 2
Next up was Cheshire, which we knew may be a tougher match. First up was the mixed, Tom L and Emily, winning theirs 21-17, Marcus and Jess met their match and had more of a battle, unfortunately losing 15-21. In the singles it was a clean sweep for Leicestershire with Tom C, Eve, Marcus and Izzy winning all theirs. Next up was the level doubles, Dan and Tom L, our ‘amazon power house team’ reunited, Izzy and Jess, Eve and Tamsin all won theirs, Tom C and Matt lost the only one in a close fought match, only one point in it, 20-21!
Leicestershire – 8 Cheshire – 2
Yorkshire 1 was the next match! One each after the mixed, Eve and Marcus winning 21-15, Matt and Emily losing 14-21. Boys singles one each, Dan powering through his winning 21-3, Tom C losing 21-14. Girls singles one each, Eve winning her game 21-9, Jess losing a close one 17-21. Boys doubles….one each, Dan and Matt winning 21-17, our sat nav team losing this time 18-21. Last up the girls doubles, cheer leading was in full flow at this point, we needed to break the theme of one each……but it wasn’t to be Tamsin and Emily won 21-13, Izzy and Jess lost this time round 15-21. Our chief scorer Alan was frantically working out the point situation……phew…Dan’s big win and all those close games paid off and the two managers shook hands on the win for Leicestershire by 21 points!
Leicestershire  – 5 (183 pts) Yorkshire 1 – 5 (162 pts)
Round 4 was against Lancashire with their two ‘illegal’ players!! The team were not phased, saw it as a challenge! First up was the mixed, our amazon Dan teamed up with our fearless pocket rocket, Tamsin and had a very close fought match against a very good pair only losing narrowly 19-21, likewise, Tom L and Emily teamed up again, played really well, had a tight battle but unfortunately lost 17-21. On to the singles, Tom C had a comfortable win 21-13, Marcus had more of a battle losing 18-21, Eve also had a comfortable win 21-10, whilst Tamsin met her match this time, losing 15-21. Match score after the singles and mixed 4-2 to Lancashire so we needed to win all four of the doubles to win the match. Boys doubles partnerships Dan and Matt, Marcus and Tom L fought hard but were unable to overpower the Lancashire pairings, losing 15-21 and 16-21. The girls doubles Eve and Emily, Izzy and Jess came through winning both of their games 21-12 and 21-17.
Leicestershire – 4 Lancashire – 6
Next match saw us playing Northumberland. Mixed pairings Tom C and Eve, Tom L and Emily started the match with two wins 21-19 and 21-13. The singles was a clean sweep to Leicestershire with Dan winning easily 21-7, Matt 21-14, Jess 21-17 and Tamsin 21-13. Level doubles pairs Dan and Tom L powered through their game winning 21-4, Tom C and Marcus won 21-16, Tamsin and Emily won 21-12 and Izzy and Jess succumbed in a close match to lose this time 18-21.
Leicestershire – 9 Northumberland – 1
It was our turn now to have a very welcome break before the last match of the day against Warwickshire……..the players were given the opportunity to pick the team for this last match and with only one loss, to a team that potentially will have to forfeit some of their games, we wanted this match to be another win to give us first place in this first leg!
The team selected, (with only one management adjustment), everyone rested and recharged it was on court for a warm up led by Eve, along with a team talk.
First games were the mixed, Marcus and Izzy had a close battle against their first pair losing 19-21, Matt and Emily also fought hard only to lose 17-21. The singles saw Tom C and Matt getting the first wins for Leicestershire 21-12 and 21-18, Eve fought very hard in her game unfortunately losing by that one point 20-21 and Jess also had a tight battle but lost 19-21. Warwickshire were up 4-2 at this point, Leicestershire needed to win all four level doubles to win the match. It was one each to the boys with our Tom L and Dan (playing another Tom and Dan!) winning 21-17 but Tom C and Marcus didn’t manage a win this time losing 14-21. On to the girls doubles, we needed to win both of these to get a draw at least! Izzy and Jess drew on their winning streak from the day before and won their game 21-18. The cheering and noise from the Leicestershire players was ramping up as the last game was battling on…..could Eve and Tamsin get us that win we needed???….. final score 20-21….a win for Warwickshire.
Leicestershire – 4 Warwickshire – 6 
The jury is still out on who the actual winners of the first leg are……..
Lancashire won but fielded ‘illegal’ players……..
Leicestershire came second…….so may have come first…..watch this space!!
Well played to the whole team!!

 

LEICESTERSHIRE UNDER 15’S SHIRES FINALS DAY!

LEICESTERSHIRE UNDER 15’S SHIRES FINALS DAY!

Well, what an achievement for this group of players to make the finals day! The first time that this has happened for this cohort. A top eight finish was guaranteed out of the 39 county teams.

Following a great performance in the play offs against Yorkshire, on paper it was always going to be tough playing against one of the top four seeded teams. Would it be Cheshire, Essex, Warwickshire or last years winners Bucks?

The tension mounted as the draw was made. A loud cheer came up when the seeded Bucks were drawn against a very strong Surrey team. Cheshire drew Avon. Warwickshire drew Oxfordshire. Essex drew Leicestershire.

The match reporter felt slightly jaded from the Leicester City celebrations – could this Leicestershire team emulate those achieved by Leicester City too?

The first match against Essex would ultimately determine either a 1-4 or a 5-8 position finish. A pre match huddle team talk by Laura was supported by Mark.

Despite the superior gradings and rankings of the Essex team Leicestershire stuck to their strengths and kept in touch throughout the mixed finishing 2-2. All matches were close with the number 1 pairing of Martin and Ella securing the first victory winning 21-16. The final game in the mixed featuring Hritika and Daniel secured the 2-2 with a further 21-16 win.

Next up the singles. This looked tough on paper! Martin lost his game but this was quickly levelled up by a great win by Sameer. Tom C and Daniel lost against their opponents so Leicestershire really needed the girls to overcome their strong opponents. Hritika brilliantly beat her opponent 21-17 to bring the match score back to 4-5. Ella, Eve and Jas all fought well against their opponents but none could produce the vital wins. The match score after the singles was 4-8.

Doubles have always been strong for Leicestershire and would really need to pull out the stops to claw back the overall match from being 4-8 down. Three wins for Leicestershire out of the first four matches kept the dream alive of a top four finish. Notably, Martin and Tom C beating their opponents convincingly 21-14. The girls pairings of Eve and Hritika, and Ella and Jas beating their pairings too. The match score was now closer at 7-9.

To progress, Leicestershire would need to win maybe all of their last four matches or three out of four with very convincing points differences. The team got off to a good start with Martin and Tom C bringing the match score back to 8-9. Daniel and Tom L’s battled well against the Essex number 1 pair but couldn’t overturn them. Therefore, Essex were now 10-8 up. At this stage both managers were nervously totting up the points scored situation and the reality set in that unless both pairs of Leicestershire girls won by a 15 point margin then Leicestershire couldn’t overtake Essex. Jas and Ella did win though in a close fought battle 21-19 to bring the tie back to 9-10 but Eve and Hritika couldn’t level the match eventually losing 21-18.

A great fight by Leicestershire. A much improved score line against their playoff opponents from two years ago, narrowly losing 9-11! Well done!

The next draw by the organisers was to determine whether Leicestershire would be competing for the 5th and 6th positions or 7th and 8th. A guaranteed 5th or 6th would result if Avon could be overcome.

Could the mixed pairings get off to a good start?? There was a lot of double takes when Eve and Tom L quickly arrived back at the bench following a bizarre 21-1 win. Ella and Martin, and Hritika and Daniel also won to take the match score to 3-1 after the mixed, following a narrow loss for Jas and Tom C.

Great singles wins by 7 of the 8 Leicestershire players guaranteed at least the draw. All four girls winning against their opponents convincingly. The boys games were tighter with an excellent victory for Daniel beating a higher graded opponent. Wins were also achieved by Martin and Tom C. This making the match score 10-2.

The doubles started well with both boys pairs winning. The girls match points were shared with Jas and Ella winning, but Eve and Hritika losing. The match score then sat at 13-3 to Leicestershire.

Three of the four reverse doubles match wins also went to Leicestershire making the final result a strong 16-4 victory.

Bucks, following a narrow loss to Surrey in the first match of the day meant a lower finishing position for a very strong Bucks team. Could Leicestershire beat the odds against the higher graded Bucks players? This match was to determine the 5th and 6th final positions.

Despite scoring double figures in all matches Leicestershire were only victorious in two of them. These being Hritika and Daniel in the mixed winning 21-12 and in the final game of the match with Eve and Hritika winning 21-14 in the doubles. Though, a number of other matches are more than worthy of a mention. Firstly, Hritika gaining 16 points against a C grade girl in the singles, and Martin and Tom C narrowly losing 21-19 against international players in the doubles.

A fantastic 6th place out of 39 counties was indeed an excellent result for this great bunch of players and great manager too! This team could be formidable if this level of improvement continues! Roll on next year!

Match report by Mitch Dale.

Team players:- Hritika, Tom L, Jas, Tom C, Sameer, Eve, Martin, Ella and Dan.

U15s win a place in the Shires League Finals!

LEICESTERSHIRE U15 V YORKSHIRE U15

PLAY OFF SEMI FINAL – 24 APRIL 2016

In the car on the way to Babington for the big match against Yorkshire, I was contemplating how the team would get on. I thought that even with Vardy suspended, Leicester should have too much for a Swansea team with not much tooplay for and so it proved – in spectacular style. Come on you Foxes!

Ok, to the much anticipated Shires play off semi-final against Yorkshire. This cohort of players have twice reached this stage of proceedings and failed to advance. Would it be third time lucky?

Team Manager Laura gave her usual Ranieri style team talk and inevitably reminded the players to take it one game at a time and that all they had achieved so far was to reach the play-off semi-finals. There was no mention of qualifying for Europe or winning the league. It was well and truly a time for taking the pressure off her players and concentrate on the match in hand.

First up, the mixed doubles…. Today’s starting line up featured Dan and Hritika, Tom and Eve, Tom and Jas, Martin and Ella. It was top pair, Martin and Ella who from the whistle made the fastest start going 10-0 up, with Ella a real predator in front of goal. They quickly won their match 21-7, 21-16. It was however, Dan and Hritika who claimed the first point of the day winning 21-11, 21-18. During his post matchinterview Dan said, “We played alright, our first game was better than our second!” There was clear evidence that that the midweek training was paying off for the remaining pairs on court. Both Leicestershire duos running out victors, Tom and Jas winning 21-15, 21-17 and Tom and Eve winning 21-18, 21-18.

LEICESTERSHIRE ​4 ​YORKSHIRE ​0

On paper the first 4 singles matches looked evenly matched with each of the opponents having played each other at least once before. Perhaps the most intriguing match up was Martin who was playing against his doubles partner Nathan. Bragging rights were certainly up for grabs. Thankfully for Leicestershire it was Martin who kept his composure and got his tactics right, keeping the pressure on his opponent to win 21-7, 21-14. During his post match interview Martin stated, “This was a match I wanted to win as it was important for the team”. Hritika was playing an opponent in form, but despite numerous good shots and 100% effort eventually went down 21-14, 21-8. The same could be said for Tom, who despite not feeling well never let his head drop eventually losing 21-16, 21-13. Last on court was Ella who having lost her first game, set up a decider after winning the second. It was her Leicester never say die attitude that saw her overcome a good opponent 10-21, 21-13, 21-16.

Next on were Eve, Jas, Tom and Dan. Eve was always in control of her match and supported by the biggest cohort of family and friends this side of the King Power won comfortably 21-8, 21-10. After the match, Eve said” The crowd were great, it was like having 12th man on court with me”. Tom won many gruelling, long rallies, but despite his “Huth like” defence lost to a talented opponent 16-21, 11-21. Dan was involved in a match that the spectators really got involved in. He looked in control taking first game 21-18. However, his opponent fought back winning the 2nd, 14-21 only for Dan to get a great start in the third. He never relinquished his lead and won the game 21-10. The last singles match saw Jas stand firm working quietly and effectively much like LCFC’s Danny Drinkwater winning a tight match 21-19, 21-15.

LEICESTERSHIRE ​9 ​YORKSHIRE ​3

With only 2 points required to claim victory, the players stepped onto the pitch to play their first level doubles games. With Martin and Tom quickly claiming their first game, it seemed like it would be a race between the girls doubles pairs to see who would claim the winning point. But the Yorkshire boys put paid to this reportersprediction winning a tight second game against Martin and Tom. Meanwhile the girls were performing to the Manager Ranieri’s expectations with both pairs turning out dominating performances. Ella and Jas claimed the point that guaranteed the match draw, with Hritika and Eve claiming the vital winning point. Back with the boys and in one of the matches of the day, in a tie that either pair could have won, it was Martin and Tom that claimed victory winning 25-23 in the decider. Home advantage played its part as the net cord favoured Leicestershire at 22 all! It wasn’t a tale of two halves in the reverse girls doubles matches as both Leicestershire pairs continued to keep the pressure on their opponents to roll out comfortable winners. Dan and Tom showed their fighting qualities during both their doubles matches ran out a close second on both occasions against strongYorkshire opponents. Martin and Tom finished the match in style for Leicestershire to round off what was a great team performance by all eight players who gave 110%!

LEICESTERSHIRE ​15​YORKSHIRE​​5

So it was third time lucky for the team and this performance books a place at the play finals on 8 May 2016 in Aylesbury. Thanks to Manager Laura and Coaches Chris and Neil for their input. Special mention and thanks to Neil Cooper who has worked and volunteered tirelessly for the Leicestershire Schools Badminton Association for many years. He is taking some well earned time out to perfect his golf game. You are welcome back anytime Neil!

Match reporter – Noel Haines

U15s final round robin shires match!

Leicestershire – V – Derbyshire U15 Badminton Match

You know what, it was so funny listening to Laura speaking to Jon, Jess’s dad, reminiscing when my Tom and her and Alan’s Tom played their first tournament in an U11 event, and they were affectionately known as Team Satnav! My how the time’s past and to an extent a lot has changed! What hasn’t changed is the nucleus of the team, except perhaps the addition of Hritika from Yorkshire, and Jess, the newly adopted baby of the team.

As the match progressed I looked along the bench on the fringes of the courts and the usual suspects were there supporting their fantastically well-round young adults; I can’t think of a better way to describe them. I watched with pride the graceful elegance of Jasmin, and the way Craig and Deb have brought up a sometimes quiet young lady, with an undercurrent of a wicked sense of humour, and the great partnership Jasmin’s built up with Tom C on court. Mind you, I think an eye should be kept on Jasmin’s malicious side as the first two points from their mixed doubles match was won with her smashing the shuttlecock in to her opponent’s bodies; the girl’s head and boy’s stomach!

Martin’s singles game was epic! I was watching Mark on courtside, and like all parents, it was as if he was playing every point with his son. I remember from days of old that Martin looked around at the parents for encouragement when points were lost, but now, oh boy, could he teach some a thing or two about self-motivation! His never give up attitude shown during this challenging game reaped its reward in the decisive third game where Martin came out with an emphatic 21-5 victory!

As always, Marcus was wearing his heart on his sleeve and played with all the passion and commitment we have been accustomed to! Chris and Sue proudly watched from the side-lines, with Marcus’ deft touches around the net and smart thinking, it saw the tough 22-20 first game victory quickly followed with a comfortable 21-8 win.

Dan’s spirited singles match was another that went to 3 games. With the conclusion of the three other games around him, it felt like Dan was on centre court in a championship. With Dan’s rock-star hair style, long limbs, and powerful smash, his opponent was not having an easy ride. Stuart, Dan’s dad, must ensure Dan’s hair is not cut before any play-off match as we would hate his Goliath strength and power to diminish, which saw Dan conclude with a singles win and therefore Leicestershire 12-0 up and the match sewn up. However, level doubles were still to follow.

As always, Eve’s demure size camouflages her heart! With exceptional play on court, she never gives up and after efficiently seeing off her opponents I wasn’t surprised to see Eve immediately throw her racket on to her kit bag and walk without haste to the other courts to encourage her compatriots in the remaining games. I’ll forgive Mitch for dropping me in it to writing this match report due to the fact he has brought such a natural leader in to the mix of this team.

Another diminutive player is Jess, and what she lacks in size she compensates for in bucket loads of tenacity and smart thinking! There are very few girls I’ve seen willing to dive across the court, but this demonstration of commitment and fight saw Jess successful in all disciplines, mixed and level doubles and singles.

I can’t not mention Hritika! Fantastic play, whether flying solo, or with a team member. No one scored more than 13 when Hritika was on court and the powerful smash, cross court drop shots and athleticism saw frustrated opponents struggling to deal her variety in the games. I also appreciated the offer of a sweet between games, thank you!

And then there’s Tom C! Another heart on sleeve player, and very accomplished. A tough start in the singles was rewarded with a win as Tom drew on all his resources in combat against a worthy opponent. The variety of shots and power was too hot to handle, in this game, and those to follow.

I suppose, before I finish, I should mention my Tom! So very often he’ll return from court, like today, and be hyper critical of his game. Another memory from years ago, Laura mentioned that I should try and control my emotions when court-side as it could affect Tom’s game if he sees me wince at a missed shot here, or smash in to the net there. Truth be told, the last shot is normally what Tom remembers, whether a winning or losing shot, but what Tom forgets is the multitude of fantastic shots to get to that final shot, whether good or bad.I have also missed a treat in praising him too, trying to control these emotions, and there were some ridiculously fantastic smashes, stretches and subtle shots around the net that he should remember too. Well played buddy, the boy donegood!!!

I recently read a football manager’s comments about the success of Leicester City Football Club, and an analogy was made that Leicester City is like the good lad in class, liked by all, and if their respective clubs don’t succeed in winning the Premiership, then they want Leicester to win. Well I’d like to think rather than being ‘liked’, which conjures up a luke warm nicety, Leicestershire U15 badminton team is RESPECTED by all who play them and the sense of team spirit, which has evolved and continued to develop, is the envy of all who play us!

I am proud to say that my son is a member of an amazing team, and county! We should all be proud!

Final result, Leicestershire 19, Derbyshire 1

Report written by Gary Lund