Local girl Rachael Woods, who lifted the Irish Under 15 title two weeks ago, was in Nottingham last weekend and has edged closer to holding the UK No1 slot by reaching the final of the prestigious Under 15 Gold Star singles against what was the cream of England and Scotland’s top youngsters.
Rachael has done nothing to harm her ambitions of holding the No1 title in the United Kingdom with a tremendous performance in England.
Rachael’s quest for the coveted title in quite a difficult group with Warwickshire’s Kiara Henry proving a formidable opponent in her opening match.
She edged through in the first set 21-18 and was able to gain some breathing space in the second, taking it on a 21-16 scoreline after just over half-an-hour on court.
Next up was Rachel Sugden, Scotland’s top singles player, who was ranked No3/4 and the Alpha player had to call on all her experience and nous to come back from a very tight opening set which she lost 22-20 to snatch the second from her opponent’s grasp 21-19 and there was further grit and determination needed in the decider as she secured a 21-16 victory in 42 minutes.
With a 100% record going into her final group match there was little room to manoeuvre and whilst the opening set against Hampshire’s Leah Allen was a little easier with a 21-15 win for the Alpha player, then the second saw her opponent press to take the match into a deciding set but again Miss Woods was to raise her game to secure a place in the semi-final 21-19.
Facing Rachael in the semi-final was Abbygail Harris of Staffordshire and she was certainly not going to step aside for the Ulster girl and Rachael had to be on the top of her game if she was to book her place in the final.
The opening set was a close 21-18 and the second was even closer with the English girl bidding to take the match into a deciding set.
However, Rachael was able to snatch the vital points needed to win 21-19 and give her a place in the final against Rachel Cameron of Lothian.
Whilst the 21-16 21-16 defeat may not have been the result that Rachael might have been looking for but set against the number of energy-sapping matches which she had successfully negotiated to reach the final, then the result is certainly one which can only give her even more confidence going into the Cheltenham Gold competition.