Lisburn’s Rachael Woods was back to her best last week as she won two titles at the Carlton Irish Under 15 Championships.
Having lost almost a month of intense competitive badminton primarily due to injury, a good performance in the Gold Star Under 15 Series in Leigh last weekend took on an even greater importance for the 15 year-old.
When she won the singles in the Leinster Graded event, it took some of the pressure off and allowed her to step up her preparations.
With results in the prestigious Gold Series being considered within the criteria for Irish squads including the Under 15 Four Nations Quadrangulars in Scotland, Rachael was clearly focused on the size of the task facing her, particularly as she was seeded No1 in the Girls Singles and No2 in the Girls Doubles with her twin sister Rebecca.
Rachael overcame Abbygael Harris in the final 21-19 21-19 after a slow start when she found herself one set down.
Racheal’s mum Alison hailed her win as her “most important tournament success to date.”
She said: “Without a doubt this was Rachael’s most important tournament success to date but one which I was proud to have witnessed.
“It really was nip and tuck in the second and third sets, either girl could have won it but Rachael really called upon all her fighting spirit and experience to come through to lift the coveted title. If Rachael was nervous going in to the final then spare a thought for me sitting on the side-lines, playing every point.”
Dad Trevor had been waiting “rather impatiently” for the outcome back in Lisburn but was delighted when the news filtered through.
Rachael had eased through the round robin group stage, beating the talented Kiara Henry 21-19 in the deciding set having lost the first 21-16 and kept her focus throughout her second singles match against Gunjan Randhawa 21-11 21-6.
With her clash against Hope Warner from Leicestershire determining her semi-final opponent, Rachael did enough to seal the victory in straight sets.
After winning the first set 21-18 against Chloe Hunt it was the Warwickshire player who was to draw level 21-14 before the Lisburn player stepped up the pace to book her place in the final 21-10.
Rachael had lost her mixed doubles match against her sister Rebecca and Kyle Magee 21-19 22-20 but used it as motivation in her singles matches.