On Sunday 4th February the U18’s hosted Staffordshire at home in Babington, hoping to keep their unblemished Shires League record for this season….
Martin Beynon, Harry Clare, Tom Cowperthwaite, Luke Hoult
Eve Dale, Ella Haines, Hritika Modi, Izzy Pike
Getting off to the best kind of start, the mixed pairs of Martin & Eve, Harry & Ella, Tom & Hritika and Izzy & newbie Luke cleaned up the mixed doubles in short order and without dropping a set. Moving onto the singles, the team consolidated their position by winning 3 out of 4 singles – both boys and girls.
By now in a 10-2 lead and with the match win almost a formality, the team went all out to try to win as many level double games as possible in order to strengthen their overall place on the U18 League table. All 4 pairs – Tom & Harry, Martin & Luke, Eve & Hritika and Ella & Izzy – reeled off the final 8 games in a row for a final scoreline of:-
This year’s U18 County Championships had, what must be, a record number of entries for this age group compared to previous years! There were 24 entrants, 18 of those competed in all three events…..it was a long day with many hard fought close matches and fantastic displays of courage and determination.
Special congratulations to Martin, triple county champion in boys singles, level doubles with Tom and mixed with Eve. Eve also won the girls singles giving her the double this year. Well done to both!
Singles winners:- Martin Beynon and Eve Dale
Runners up:- Sameer Chenia and Hritika Modi
Boys doubles winners:- Martin Beynon and Tom Cowperthwaite
Runners up:- Sameer Chenia and Harry Clare
Girls doubles winners:- Jess Allen and Tamsin Betts
Runners up:- Izzy Pike and Jess Rodgers
Mixed doubles winners:- Martin Beynon and Eve Dale
Following on from their recent win against local rivals Notts, the U18 team travelled to Derby for another local….well, derby! Unfortunately, this was always going to be a less competitive match with one of the Derbyshire girls having been rushed to hospital that morning. All here at Team Leics hope she made a speedy recovery and will be back on a badminton court soon. Leicestershire girls Izzy Pike and Jess Rodgers were good sports on the day, filling in the gaps as honorary Derbyshire players so the full complement of games could go ahead.
In the mixed, easy victories were recorded by Tom & Hritika, Harry & Eve and Sameer & Jess with only #1 pair Martin & Ella unable to wrest victory from David & Abigail Hong, despite some epic duelling from the back of the court from Martin backed up by great net play from Ella resulting in a very narrow loss in the second set 22-20.
It was a similar story in the singles, with Tom, Sameer & Harry winning their games, and only Martin losing again to Hong in 2 close games. The girls backed this up with 4 wins from 4 leaving the score going into the level doubles 10-2 with only a single game needed for the overall win. Martin & Tom managed this with their first game on court with a fantastic 21-19 11-21 21-19 win over the Derbyshire first pair, final revenge over Martin’s nemesis on the day! More wins came from both Martin & Tom and Harry & Sameer beating the Derbyshire #2 pair while the girls won 3 of their 4 games, only Izzy & Hritika unable to overcome the Derbyshire 1st pair. The final score was:-
Leicestershire 16 Derbyshire 4
giving Leicestershire temporary ownership of 3rd place on the League table, a good place to be with a couple of very tough fixtures up next against Bucks and Yorkshire.
Sunday 29th October saw the U18 Shires League team begin their 2017/18 campaign. With a tough group this year including Yorkshire 1 and Bucks 1, the team knew this derby against local rivals Notts was a critical fixture they would have to win if they wanted to make the finals next spring…..
Martin Beynon, Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Tom Cowperthwaite
Jess Allen, Eve Dale, Ella Haines, Izzy Pike, Jess Rodgers
With mixed doubles up first the team were determined to make a strong start. Both Tom & Ella and Sameer & Jess R made short work of their games, winning in 2 sets. Things were a little tougher for the 1st and 3rd pairs of Martin & Eve and Harry & Izzy; Martin & Eve coming back from losing the first set to win the second 2 23-21 22-20 in a nail-biting contest and Harry & Izzy holding on to their nerve, fighting back from a 0-9 deficit to win 21-17 in the 3rd and final set. The team were leaving it all out on the court, battling hard for every single point!
Moving on to the singles with a 4-0 lead and the team continued to build on their positive start with both Martin and Tom winning in straight sets against 2 very strong opponents. Unfortunately, Sameer was unable to convert his efforts into a win, losing a very closely fought contest in 3 but with Harry winning his game in 2, the boys had won 3 of their 4 singles games. Neither Eve nor Izzy could overcome the top 2 Notts girls; however both Jess’s recorded straightforward wins leaving the score going into the level doubles 9-3 and Team Leics needing only 2 out of the 8 games for the overall win.
Both Martin & Tom and Harry & Sameer won their 1st round games, both close contests going to 3 sets but with Harry & Sam digging particularly deep to wrestle their win 21-11 20-22 23-21! In the reverse, Martin & Tom beat the Notts 2nd pair in 2 while Harry & Sameer were unable to beat the very strong Notts 1st pair, losing in the 3rd 17-21.
Although Eve & Ella weren’t able to overcome the Notts 1st pair, they had no such trouble with the 2nd pair, winning to 10 & 12 while Izzy & Jess A won both their games in 2 sets for a final scoreline of:-
U18 Team Manager Laura recently invited this year’s squad to participate in a team-building afternoon in preparation for the new season ahead.
While not all the players were able to make the event, those who did enjoyed a crate-building challenge on the high ropes at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre before enjoying a meal together at Nando’s in Highcross, Leicester.
Sunday 23rd April saw the culmination of the 2016/17 Shires League season and after a nail biting play-off earlier in the month against Lancashire, the U18 team came together one last time, now playing for one of the top 8 places alongside Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Devon, Cheshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Essex.
With the team being a man down – Jai being unable to make the event – they knew it was going to be a very tough day but nevertheless travelled to the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire determined to make a final effort to place as highly as possible. Representing Leicestershire on Finals Day were:-
Martin Beynon, Nikhil Chotai, Tom Cowperthwaite, Ryan King
Eve Dale, Ella Haines, Hritika Modi, Issy Paterson-Watts, Izzy Pike
There was to be no such thing as an easier draw today and the team went into their first round match knowing that every win would involve a huge effort and players being at the top of their game. Leicestershire vs Devon came out of the hat and proved to be a predictably difficult rubber with the green and yellows only able to carve 3 wins out of the 20 played; Martin & Ella with an excellent 21-18 win against the Devon 1st pair, Ryan winning his singles against a much better opponent on paper and Hritika with a brilliant win against the C graded 1st Devon girl for a final score:
Leicestershire: 3 Devon: 17
With the next round offering the chance to play for positions 5 to 8, the team now faced Oxfordshire, making a good start in the mixed with both Tom & Eve and Ryan & Izzy comfortably winning their mixed, Martin & Ella and Nikhil & Hritika losing their games only narrowly. The team didn’t fare so well in singles however with only Eve and once again Ryan able to overcome their opponents; there was still everything to play for with the team 4 – 8 down going into the level doubles. While the boys won 4 from 4, unfortunately the girls struggled against the strong Oxfordshire girls with only Eve & Issy able to win a close match 21-20. The final score:
Leicestershire: 9 – Oxfordshire: 11
The final match play-off saw Leicestershire pitched against Cheshire, a repeat of the ICT rubber which saw Cheshire win a close tie 6 – 4. Could the team reverse this? With Jai missing this time, they knew it wouldn’t be easy but would give it their all nonetheless.
Another good start in the mixed with Tom & Eve and Nikhil & Hritika winning their games to share the scoreline going into the singles. Once again this proved to be a barrier with the girls unable to claim any wins, despite Eve and Izzy pushing their opponents very close. With an on-form Martin beating a very strong C grade opponent to 14 and Ryan making it 3 singles wins from 3 for the day, the scores going into the level doubles saw Leicestershire trailing 4 – 8 once again. With Tom & Nikhil and Martin & Ryan splitting the honours with the Cheshire boys and an excellent final push from the girls which saw them win 3 of the 4 games, the final score reflected another narrow loss for Team Leicestershire:
Leicestershire: 9 Cheshire: 11
After a tough day’s competition against all the very best U18’s in the country, the team can be very proud of their achievement in having made it through to Finals Day and an overall 8th place position for the League for the 20167/17 season! Well done to all the players!