Double Olympians set to grace Lisburn in Irish Championships

Tony Stephenson will be back in Lisburn this weekend to test some of the big names of Irish Badminton on his home courts at Alpha Badminton Club.
Tony Stephenson will be back in Lisburn this weekend to test some of the big names of Irish Badminton on his home courts at Alpha Badminton Club.

Lisburn Racquets Club hosts a star-studded line-up for the Irish National Championships this weekend boosted by the entry of Ireland’s top two international players Scott Evans and Chloe Magee.

Scott has won SEVEN Irish National Singles titles in a row and Chloe’s reputation on the international stage is advancing in leaps and bounds.

Badminton, London 2012 Olympic Games, Wembley Arena, London, England 31/7/2012'Women's Singles Group Play'Ireland's Chloe Magee in action against France's Honyan Pi 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Badminton, London 2012 Olympic Games, Wembley Arena, London, England 31/7/2012'Women's Singles Group Play'Ireland's Chloe Magee in action against France's Honyan Pi 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Scott Evans tops the seeds in the Mens Singles and follows a season in which he romped home in the Brazil Grand Prix event in Rio which brought him his biggest win of his career.

He is a double Olympian with appearances in Beijing and London under his belt and is a breath of fresh air to the Irish badminton scene. Along with Chloe Magee, he’s giving Ireland a focus on which to build a formidable future.

Evans is seeded to meet Alpha’s Tony Murphy at the semi-final stage while number two seed Jonathan Dolan has been seeded to face Nigel Boyne in the last four.

Evans, now 26, faces Alpha’s Curtis Presho who was disappointed with his performance in his last tournament while Sam McKay and Joshua Magee will be bidding to reach the quarter-finals.

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 09th December 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye''Yonex Irish International 2011National Badminton Centre, Lisburn''Ireland's Scott Evans pictured during Fridays Yonex Irish International at the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn, Northern Ireland

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 09th December 2011 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye''Yonex Irish International 2011National Badminton Centre, Lisburn''Ireland's Scott Evans pictured during Fridays Yonex Irish International at the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn, Northern Ireland

Tony Murphy opens his challenge against Owen Marron, who won the Leinster Open recently and could meet his club-mate Stuart Lightbody if he can overcome one of the brightest prospects in the junior game Nhat Nguyen in the opening round.

Tony Stephenson returns from England for the competition and will obviously relish the opportunity to measure his fitness and form on his home courts and providing he has no trouble brushing off Kevin Byrne in the opening round, he will have to bring the hopes of Nigel Boyne to an end if he is to be a real challenger for the title.

Top junior player Jon McCreedy, who will be heading for the Barcelona Open next week as part of the Irish side, faces Declan Bennett in the opening round with the reward a clash against Paul Reynolds.

Alpha’s Andrew McKee has an opening match against number two seed Jonathan Dolan.

The Women’s Singles is headed by Chloe Magee, the 25 year old Raphoe player who is another of Ireland’s double Olympians and is really making an impact on the circuit. She defeated top 20 player Juan Gu of Singapore in the French Open Super Series. Number two seed Rachael Darragh from Raphoe made the final of the womens singles in the Irish Under 19 european event and will be part of the Mixed Doubles side competing in Leuven.

Ireland’s Joshua and Sam Magee are the top seeds in the Mens Doubles with Alpha’s Ciaran Chambers and Ryan Stewart earning their number two spot after finishing runners-up in the Leinster Open. They will have to be at their best if they are to see off Jonathan Dolan and Alpha’s Tony Stephenson while the top seeds are due to meet Stuart Lightbody and Tony Murphy in the semi-final.

There will undoubtedly be considerable interest in the clash between the top seeds and former internationals Graham Henderson and Michael Watt who graced the Irish scene for many years just as the current pair are doing currently.

Alpha’s Sinead Chambers and Jenny King are number one seeds while Sara Boyle and Rachael Darragh, who are in the European Mixed team are at number two.

Alpha’s Ciaran and Sinead Chambers are set to meet top seeds Sam and Chloe Magee in the final with Daniel Magee and Rachael Darragh and Tony Murphy and Jennie King waiting in the wings for any slip-ups the other two seeds.

Play starts on Saturday at 10am with the mens singles and finals being completed on Sunday.