Success at the U16 Rising Stars

Saturday 27th May saw most of the Team Leics U16’s travel to take part in the annual Warwickshire Rising Stars competition – one of the season highlights!

With the mixed doubles event seeing a straight knockout format in a large and challenging field, only Sameer Chenia & Sophie Watson managed to progress to the quarter-finals.

The singles competition was split into an A and B event. Jess Rodgers played well to win her group and make the semi-finals of the B group before losing to eventual winner Mollie Bailey for her second singles bronze medal in 2 weeks.

In the level doubles, both boys pairs of Harry Clare & Sameer Chenia and Rowan Clark & Luke Hoult won 2 of their 3 group games with Harry & Sameer being particularly unlucky to lose their 3rd 15-11 in the 3rd against the eventual silver medallists.

In the girls event, both Leicestershire pairs of Izzy Pike & Jess Rodgers and Jess Allen & Tamsin Betts won all their group games to go through to the semi finals. Jess & Tamsin facing the top seeds Warwickshire’s Milly Evans & Caitlin Harper did well to take the first game 15-10 but were unable to hold off a very strong pair who took the next two for the win. Izzy & Jess meanwhile took on the #2 seeds Melissa Lin & Mollie Bailey. Once again the Leicestershire girls took the first end 15-9 but were unable to hold onto their early lead against the experience of the Cornwall girls. A pair of bronze medals and an excellent performance from the  Leicestershire girls which saw them take 2 of the top 4 places in a very competitive tournament.


Gold for Sophie in U16 Open

Bank Holiday weekend saw Leicestershire girls Sophie Watson and Carly Stevenson decide to have some fun in the sun at the seaside at the Bournemouth U14 & U16 Open events held on consecutive days over the weekend.

With the U14 event first on the Saturday, both girls played well with Carly losing to Sophia McCullough in the group after winning her first game. Top seed Sophie also lost to McCullough in a tough semi-final 15-13 15-14 to win the bronze medal.

Back on the Sunday with a new partner, Warwickshire’s Khushi Naik and seeded 3/4, Sophie faced another tough semi-final against U13 England pair McCullough & Chloe Dennis, this time coming out the winner with a 17-15 3rd end going to the Leics/Warwks girls. The final was a much more comfortable win for Sophie & Khushi, beating the Hampshire pair of Darlington & Chapman 15-8 15-11 to win gold in only their second outing as a pair together.

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U16’s Book Place in Shires League Finals!

After a challenging season which saw the team facing a very tough draw against top counties Warwickshire and Yorkshire, the U16’s finished the group stage in 10th place, earning them one last chance to progress through to Finals Day; however, they would have to get past 7th place Hampshire first, which on paper looked like a mountain to climb. So on Play-off Day, Saturday 29th April, the team made the long trek to Winchester:-

Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough

Jess Allen, Tamsin Betts, Izzy Pike, Jess Rodgers

With mixed up first, the team walked on court determined to claw as many games as possible from the home side. Both Harry & Izzy and Joe & Tamsin worked hard to win their matches in straight games; although Jess & Rowan lost their close match, they took it to the 3rd end which would become an important statistic later on in the day. Sameer & Jess rounded off a great start for Leicestershire with a stunning 3 set victory over the Hampshire 1st pair Finn Saunders & Annie Lado with the visitors up 3 – 1 going into the singles.

Both Hampshire 1st and 2nd girls proved too strong for Jess A and Izzy, with Izzy giving it everything to level the score at 1-1 before losing in the 3rd. With Tamsin safely home the winner 21-10 21-10, could Jess R win a 2nd game for Team Leics? Having wrestled her opponent to a level score at 1-1 Jess couldn’t hide her disappointment to just miss out on another fantastic win, only just losing in the the 3rd 28-26! Sameer worked hard to defeat the strong Hampshire 1st boy in a very close encounter 10-21 23-21 21-19 and Joe also won his in straight sets; both Rowan & Harry lost narrowly with Rowan taking his opponent to the 3rd end and Harry just missing out 22-20 23-21.

Going into the level doubles, the score stood at 6-6 and the home team were starting to look a little concerned! With both teams knowing they had to win at least 4 of the remaining 8 games, things were feeling just a little bit tense. Harry & Rowan settled Leicestershire nerves winning both their matches in 2 and with Sameer & Joe also winning against the weaker Hampshire pair, the girls only had to win one of their 4 matches to reach the magic number of 10 – although this sounded straightforward the girls knew this would still be a difficult task against the very strong Hampshire girls.  Jess & Izzy lost in 2 against both the 1st and 2nd pairs and with Jess & Tamsin also losing in 2 to the 1st pair, it all came down to the final game on court – Hampshire winning would give them outright victory but a Leicestershire victory would force the draw….no pressure then girls!

When the Hampshire pair took the 1st end 21-19, Leicestershire nerves were jangling; luckily Jess & Tamsin held their nerve and with their usual exceptional defence, began breaking down the skill of their opponents to win the 2nd 21-15. After a day where the teams had matched each other step for step the whole way through, it somehow seemed fitting that this final end should be the decider; and it was every bit as close as expected, with the Leicestershire girls holding off a determined effort to take the final end 21-19! Final score Leicestershire: 10  Hampshire: 10….the dreaded count back!

After a nervous wait, the Hampshire manager called players to attention, announcing Hampshire had won 23 ends and after a short pause, Leicestershire had won 24!! The Leicestershire players and supporters went wild! Against the form book and probably their own expectations, the team had pulled out all the stops, played the very best that they could and won, repeating the feat of the U14 and U18 Shires teams by booking their place at Finals Day and a guaranteed top 8 finish for this season’s competition. As one Leicestershire supporter commented “it was a shame one of the teams had to win” summing up the fantastic standard of play and sportsmanship by both teams throughout the day.

U16’s: Tamsin, Jess, Izzy, Jess, Rowan, Joe, Harry & Sameer


Gold for Harry & Sameer at Warwks U16!

Saturday 11th March and a full contingent of Team Leics juniors converged on Warwick for the U16 Silver – held at 2 different venues due to the size of the entry!

As usual, mixed doubles started the day – more unusually with only 16 pairs making the cut it was played as a straight knockout with only 2 of the starting 4 Leics pairs making it through to round 2. Unfortunately, these 2 pairs were slated to play each other in round 2; this time it was Sameer Chenia & Sophie Watson getting the better of Jess Rodgers and her partner Ben. Although they were not able to progress past the top seeds in round 3 it was a bronze medal for Sophie and Sameer.

Meanwhile, over at the girls’ venue, Myton School, both Tamsin Betts and Jess Allen won their groups to make it through to the quarter finals. Although Tamsin was not able to beat eventual winner Smrithi Shirol, Jess won her quarter against Lavigne Leung before a semi final loss to Nottinghamshire’s Megan Brierley. Another bronze medal for Leicestershire!

The real excitement of the day however was taking place back at St Nicholas Leisure Centre in the boys doubles. Sameer and Harry were quietly making progress through the competition, despite having started the day in the bottom half of the draw. Having won all their group games, the pair efficiently dispatched their quarter final opponents 15-5 and 15-12 before meeting #2 seeds Jackson and Saunders in the semis. Having won the first relatively easily 15-9, the Hampshire pair fought back to take the second 15-12 to set up the deciding game which the Leics boys dominated to win 15-5 and earn their place in the final!

As expected, their opponents were the top seeds Samuel Jones and Joseph Scott. What was more unexpected was the final scoreline – a win for Harry and Sameer 15-8 15-10 and a fabulous gold medal for the Leics boys!

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Sameer & Harry
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Sophie & Sameer

U16’s Shires vs Notts

After a close recent encounter between these 2 local rivals in the U18 Shires league ended with an 11-9 victory to Team Leics, it was the turn of our U16’s to take on the derby against Notts. Having lost earlier in the season to Yorks 1 a good win today was vital to keep the team’s hopes of qualifying for the play offs alive….

With Nat taking the reins as stand in manager for the day, the team assembled at Babington:

Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough

Jess Allen, Tamsin Betts, Izzy Pike, Jess Rodgers

With mixed doubles usually being a strength for this team, a good start was made with Harry & Izzy, Rowan & Jess and Joe & Tamsin all winning their encounters to taken an early 3-1 lead.

The singles was a more unpredictable affair; against a very strong Notts boys singles side, only Joe was able to win his game; however, the roles were reversed in the girls singles with Jess A, Tamsin and Jess all winning comfortably. The scores going into the level doubles now stood at 7-5 with everything still to play for.

Thankfully, the team’s doubles strength stood them in good stead with both boys pairs winning all 4 matches with some fantastic badminton against some very strong opposition. The girls matched this achievement, also winning all 4 to end the day with a comfortable overall win.

Final score: Leicestershire 15  :  Nottinghamshire 5

U16 Shires: Izzy, Jess, Tamsin, Jess, Harry, Rowan, Joe & Sameer







U16 Shires vs Lincolnshire

Sunday 5th February and the U16 Shires team made the journey to Lincoln for what we knew was going to be another tough fixture. With Jess Rodgers unable to play after her efforts of the previous day’s U17 Silver in Nottingham left her with a foot injury, Sophie Watson once again stepped in to cover. The team was:-

Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough

Jess Allen, Tamsin Betts, Izzy Pike, Sophie Watson

The mixed games up first proved that this was going to be a challenging day; while Joe & Tamsin won easily to 11 and 6, both Harry & Izzy and Rowan & Jess had to fight hard for their wins with both games going to 3. The score going into the singles: Leics 3 – Lincs 1

Next up, singles, which we knew would be especially challenging for the girls and so it was to prove. Neither Jess nor Izzy could manage a win against the strong Lincs #1 & 2 girls although both Tamsin and Sophie managed easy wins against their opponents. The boys were more dominant however, with Sameer, Harry and Joe all recording convincing wins.

With just the level doubles to play, Leicestershire were leading 8 – 4 and only needed 3 wins to take the whole match. While neither Harry & Rowan nor Izzy & Sophie could manage to contain the Lincs 1st pairs, Leicestershire were convincing winners in all the other encounters to leave the final score Leicestershire 14 – Lincolnshire 6.

Well played to the whole team!

Sameeer, Rowan, Joe, Harry, Izzy, Sophie, Tamsin & Jess





U16 Shires vs Yorkshire 1

Sunday 29th January and the U16 team arrived at Babington knowing the scale of the task ahead – last time these 2 teams met in a Shires match the result was an 18-2 victory for a Yorkshire team possessing strength in depth……but the team were determined to give 100% effort and to improve on this score.

The Team

Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough

Jess Allen, Tamsin Betts, Izzy Pike, Jess Rodgers

With the mixed up first, it was an encouraging start; both Harry & Izzy and Joe & Tamsin dug deep to record wins so the teams went into the singles events level at 2-2. We knew this was likely to be the hardest part of the day with Yorkshire’s strength in the singles discipline, and so it was to be proved; despite the team giving it their all and some very close losses, only Jess R was able to convert her match to a Leicestershire point. The score at this point was 3-9 with Yorkshire only needing 2 wins from the 8 level doubles matches to claim the overall victory.

Playing mostly for Leicestershire pride now, the team continued to battle hard for every point. Our level doubles pairings of Jess R/Izzy and Jess A/Tamsin proved what they have been showing from their recent medal hauls on the U16 and U17 tournament circuits; in the doubles events, Leicestershire are a force to be reckoned with, winning all 4 matches and only dropping a single rubber in the process. The boys continued to battle right until the end but couldn’t manage to win any of their matches against a very strong Yorkshire boys’ team.

The final score was a win for Yorkshire 13-7 but all agreed the final figures didn’t reflect the quality of the badminton played by our boys and girls throughout. Every player put 100% effort in for the county and the improvements made by each individual reflected in the final scoreline; this team are definitely on the up!

U16 Shires Team: Izzy, Jees R, Tamsin, Jess A, Joe, Rowan, Sameer, Harry