For one day each year the three court hall at Alpha Badminton Club upstages its 12 court hall venue for the Annual Finals Day.
It is a masterstroke by the tournament organisers, more noticeable this year than in years gone by as it offers spectators a more intimate atmosphere to spread their concentration over just three courts.
Alpha Badminton Club is a club with more than its fair share of top representative players and the past season has been no different.
Club president Graham Henderson typically left himself out of the list of players who had performed at the highest level in the past year, having lifted a prestigious All England Masters mens doubles title at Over 50 level.
This past year has seen the club’s top trio of Beth Stephenson and the Woods twins Rebecca and Rachael represent Ireland at the European Under 17 team and individual championships, while Sinead Chambers came out of her self-imposed retirement to claim a place in the Irish team in Poland.
The Para players returned from their travels laden with medals and Matthew Cheung was the only Ulster player named in the Irish side for the Youth Tournament in Glasgow.
Alpha also hosted the Celtic U13 challenge this season while the U15s could so easily have been runners-up.
Rachael, selected as the top Alpha U16 girl of the season at the Annual Finals Day, Rebecca and Beth will now also be heading to Glasgow this week for the Quadrangular Series with hopes high to bring the curtain down on an incredibly successful season for this trio.
Last year Aine McClure stole the show reaching eight finals in all, a feat she readily recalls she would never attempt to do again. “It was simply insane” she admits, preferring to concentrate her efforts over a couple of finals this time round.
It was also great to see Ruth Roddis return to the fold in a competitive sphere at Alpha though she has been coaching some of the up and coming stars of the future. She lifted the Senior Ladies Doubles title.
Niall McVeigh won the para club singles though Stephen Halpin gave him a few headaches in the 21-19 21-19 win but Stephen got his revenge when he partnered Alex Chan-Taylor to a tense 21-19 12-21 25-23 victory over McVeigh and Sarah Cherry.
In the Tyros Mens singles Colm Gordon defeated Dan Morris 21-12 21-12 while David Malcolmson and Michael Reid were 21-15 21-11 winners over Conor Galway and Ben Dempster.
Team Comer to the fore
Team Comer had a busy Finals Day with Rory Comer winning the NBC Hall boys singles beating Harry Murphy 21-11 13-21 21-18 while Laura won both the Alpha Hall girls singles, a 21-19 21-14 win over Eloise Bryans-and the girls doubles partnering Eloise to a straight sets win over Laura Bell/Rihanna Lamont.
Anna Comer, despite losing the Intermediate girls doubles with Rachel Stewart in straight sets, was nevertheless to lift the Intermediate girls singles beating Sarah Cherry in a close 21-17 21-12 contest, before adding the girls singles title when she had to come back from dropping the second set 21-15 to beat Summer Ferguson 21-16 in the decider.
Summer and Rachel were to gain some revenge over Anna when she partnered Sarah Cherry in the Alpha Hall girls doubles when they won 21-18 16-21 21-10 while Chris Gibson teamed up with Megan Ferguson to lift the minor mixed doubles beating Jack Armstrong and Anna 21-11 21-15 and Megan Ferguson had spectators on the edge of their seats as she won the minor ladies singles with a 21-19 22-20 victory over Anna.
Murphy spoils Stuart’s treble title bid
Stuart Lightbody got off to a promising start to his challenge to lift a hat-trick of titles by partnering Megan Ferguson to a 21-16 21-13 victory over Hannah Orr and Jonny Harron in the Mixed Doubles Final but early in the final of the Mens Singles it became clear that he would have to be on top of his game if he was to prevent his inter county teammate Tony Murphy from capturing the title he last won two years ago.
Neither player was going to give an inch, points would be earned and unforced errors would be few and far between while rallies would have spectators on the edge of their seats such were their ferocity.
Murphy took command halfway through the opening set to go into the driving seat 21-10 and Lightbody was finding it difficult to get a run of points.
Murphy went on to take the title in straight sets while Lightbody had to turn his attention towards completing a double instead and he was teaming up with Alpha’s new mens singles champion.
Facing them in the final were however Ciaran Chambers and Jonny Harron who were set on spoiling the party further for Lightbody and Murphy and it was the Chambers/Harron partnership who left it late to take the title.