What a New Year it has been for ten year old Stuart McCollam, who recorded his first ever victory over Matthew Cheung in the Under 11 singles final after losing to his opponent in the Under 13 singles at the ever-popular Alpha Christmas Badminton Tournament, which celebrated its 51st Anniversary.
Although the pair are doubles partners, McCollam was still disappointed that he didn’t put in a better performance in the U13s, losing 21-18. He didn’t have too long to wait for another opportunity to gain revenge and record his FIRST win over Cheung as they were to meet in the Under 11 Boys Singles.
After both progressed unbeaten through their respective round-robin groups, the final proved to highlight the depth of talent within this age-group.
McCollam, the grandson of former Ulster Badminton President Tommy, got off to an impressive start racing to an 11-7 lead at the interval only to find himself 20-17 in arrears as Cheung eased ahead with McCollam putting a series of shots wide.
Eventually, the pair were tied at 25-25 when Cheung took to advantage, winning 27-25.
McCollam was in no mood to surrender, levelling with a 21-17 win in the second. He then led 8-4 in the third and was playing with a great deal of control and consistency when his young opponent conceded due to an ankle injury.
A delighted Stuart told the Ulster Star that he was “delighted to have won, particularly after losing to Matthew in the U13s.
“But I know I have a lot of work to do on my service because it wasn’t working too well.
“Even if Matthew had been able to continue, I believe I would have been able to go on and win anyway.”
In the Under 9 events Paige Woods lifted the Girls Singles beating Isabella Connor 21-12 21-15 and made it a double win when she partnered Isabella to victory 21-14 21-16 over Roisin McKenna and Emilly Hamill.
Josh Armstrong added to his mixed doubles title with Roisin McKenna with a win in the Boys Doubles when he partnered Rudi Smith to a 21-19 21-12 victory over Daniel Orr & Jack McElhinney.
Ross Glover recorded a 21-12 21-9 win over Jack McElhinney in the Boys Singles.
Stuart McCollam and Jason Ferguson took the Boys Doubles title while Sarah Cherry won a hat-trick of titles, beating Harmonie Ferguson 21-18 21-16 in the Girls Singles, then partnering Harmonie to lift the Girls Doubles with a 21-13 21-16 victory over Eimear Mckenna and Laura Geddis.
Jack Armstrong, who defeated Matthew Cheung in the final of the Boys Singles 21-10 21-15, partnered Josh to lift the Boys Doubles and formed a strong mixed partnership with Sarah Cherry as they ended the challenge of Josh Armstrong and Harmonie Ferguson 21-19 21-17.
To cap what was a very successful competition for her, Sarah Cherry was also to add the Under 15 Girls Singles title beating Megan Ferguson 21-18 21-14 in the final while Thomas Cherry won a double beating Peter Murphy in the Singles, and partnered Ollie Patterson in the Boys Doubles.
Aine McClure was a treble winner in the Under 17 age-group, beating Summer Ferguson in a mammoth three-setter 17-21 21-13 21-19 while the singles finalists went on to lift the Girls Doubles beating Emma Cunningham and Samantha Dornan 21-13 17-21 22-20. In the Mixed Siam Alderdice and Aine came out on top as 21-16 21-18 victors over Luke Buchanan and Samantha Dornan.
Oran O’Connor lifted the coveted Under 17 Boys Singles title which has been held in the past by some of the top Ulster and Irish players, seeing off Stephen Boyd 21-17 21-14 while Boyd gained some revenge by partnering Reuben Larmour to a 17-21 21-14 21-10 victory over O’Connor and Pearse Reihill.