There were double celebrations for Sinead Chambers last weekend as she won both the women’s doubles and the mixed doubles at the Forza Ulster Open.
The latter was with the help of her brother Ciaran - a familiar partnership for the pair who have given much of their early lives to the sport.
However, that is beginning to change for 23 year-old Sinead, who made the decision back in May to concentrate on her new career as a physiotherapist with the Belfast Trust at the expense of her sport.
Having graduated just two weeks before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, there was a lot of soul-searching to be done.
“It was the most difficult decision I have had to make in respect to the sport I have loved and still do love. It was very emotional too,” she admitted, “particularly as I have been playing since I was six or seven and won my first cap at the age of 15 in Amsterdam. “I have been very lucky to have played in some amazing countries and badminton has allowed me to do that. We haven’t got tired of it all, we are enjoying putting something back into the sport we love by coaching some of the province’s young players and will be continuing to play in many of the tournaments.
“We will also be around the club a little more than we may have been in recent years.
“But Ciaran and I knew that if we were to really entertain getting back into the Irish squad we would have to go full-time and they were certainly looking at building for the future with concentrating on younger players, which we accept. “So for the first time in our lives we agreed that badminton would have to play a secondary role and I have since started in the Belfast Trust as a physiotherapist while Ciaran is in his final year at the Ulster University completing his degree.”
Last season had promised so much for Sinead and Ciaran being selected for the European Mixed Championships with both named in the Irish squad for the Qualifiers. But unfortunately Ciaran didn’t get an opportunity to make his debut on court and Sinead was to be “gutted” when they didn’t make the team for the finals in Belgium.
Ciaran agrees it was a major disappointment but admits the high points since taking the game more seriously at 13 have made it all worthwhile with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow among the highlights.
“Winning a silver medal in Lithuania was probably our best performance ever,” he said, “and the bronze in Greece wasn’t far behind.
“However, I simply could not put in jeopardy my Sports Exercise Science degree.”
At the weekend, Ciaran and Sinead were to dominate the mixed doubles competition, beating Ryan Hamill and Ciara O’Connor and Jonathan Ruddy and Georgina Ward to reach the semi-final, where they faced their first clubmate, Stuart Lightbody, alongside Crona Rooney.
The top seeds came out on top 21-16 21-15 but in the final, second seeds Daniel Magee and Jennie King were to give them a fright by snatching the opening set 22-20.
However, the Chambers levelled, taking the second set 23-21 before edging ahead 21-19 to lift the title in the decider.
The Women’s Doubles title saw top seeds Sinead and Jennie King sail through to the final with straight set victories over Lucie Corcoran and Crona Rooney and Laura Hennessey and Kirsty Kelly, who were taken to three sets by the Woods sisters Rachael and Rebecca.
The final between Sinead and Jennie and number two seeds Sara Boyle and Norma McIntyre saw the top seeds fall behind before coming back to dominate the proceedings taking the title 21-8 21-14.