There was doubles delight for Alpha’s Beth Stephenson when she lifted the Under 15 Doubles title at the Irish Under 15 Championships, whilst she also took silver in the singles.
With the Irish Under 17 side competing in the team and individual event in Spain’s Catalonia little more than a week away, it would have been difficult for Alpha’s Rachael Woods and Jon McCreedy to be fully focussed on last weekend’s Irish Under 15 Championships and the Irish National Championships as they look towards what is such a major event in the junior calendar as the Barcelona Open.
With Rachael delighted to be returning home in time to celebrate her birthday with twin sister Rebecca, she was seeded No1 in the Irish Under 15 Championships and Niamh Gannon proved a more difficult opponent than she would have liked before the top seed booked her place in the semi-final and a clash with her Alpha clubmate Beth Stephenson, who had knocked out Kerry Fallon 21-7 21-8.
Rebecca Woods made an early exit to Alexandra Troy. After winning the opening set 21-16, she narrowly failed to turn the next two sets to her advantage in the match which lasted 32 minutes, the hopes of the Woods winning silverware rested on the top seed successfully defending her singles title.
With Rachael holding a 3-1 record over her clubmate and Beth’s win having come in the Under 15 Connacht Open back in November 2013, Clodagh Dunne, the No2 seed, has been Rachael’s major opponent in singles while Beth’s major successes have been in Girls Doubles (with Clodagh Dunne) and Mixed Doubles (with Sam McAllister).
Miss Stephenson took the first set 21-17 and just as the match was looking as if it could go to three, she snatched the victory 21-19 in 26 minutes to book a clash against her doubles partner Clodagh Dunne and she didn’t let herself down.
She came within a whisker of going one set up but just couldn’t get over the line and confidently levelled the score by winning the second 21-12.
She was always within reach of lifting that coveted Irish Under 15 title. By playing doubles with Clodagh, however, she also knows that Clodagh doesn’t make too many errors and at the vital stages in the deciding set, there were no unforced errors from Dunne and Beth had to be content with silver going down 21-18.
In the Girls Doubles it was Clodagh Dunne and Beth Stephenson and the No2 seeds Rachael and Rebecca Woods.
This time the singles finalists were in control and went on to lift the title 21-15 21-13.
The mixed doubles saw Beth Stephenson making her third final and she should be very pleased with her performances in this prestigious event but as with the singles, the title was to go to Clodagh Dunne for her hat-trick while the ever impressive Kyle Magee secured his second title.
Sam McAlister and Beth were to reach the final with a fine 21-14 21-12 victory in the semi-final over No2 seeds Des Duggan and Niamh Gannon while Magee and Dunne beat Ben O’Shea and Rebecca Woods 21-15 21-8 but the final rarely lived up to its expectations with the top seeds on top 21-12 21-13.