Stuart recovers from Ulster defeats to win the double

Stuart Lightbody (front) has bounced back from his Ulster Open disappointments.
Stuart Lightbody (front) has bounced back from his Ulster Open disappointments.

After reaching three semi-finals last week in the Ulster Open Stuart Lightbody got onto the winners podium twice at the Carlton Grade A National Championships.

Unseeded in the Mens Singles, Stuart found himself handily placed in the middle of the draw, overcoming Munster-Direct player Azhar Syed 21-17 21-12 in his opening match and was not troubled in the 21-9 21-8 victory over Declan Bennett for a place in the quarter-final.

Promising Alpha colleague Jon Mccreedy had knocked out Alan Colgan in straight sets and he was Lightbody’s next opponent but it was Lightbody who was to go through 21-8 21-8 before crushing second seed Kevin Donnelly 21-12 21-12 in just 26 minutes in the semis.

Jack O’Brien edged the opening set 21-19 but Stuart nevertheless came through impressively to win 21-11 21-8 in the next two sets.

Stuart partnered Crona Rooney in the mixed doubles and, after easing past Azhar Syed and Vicki Pesti and Jon Mccreedy and Kate Frost, they teed up a final against Mark Cobbe and Norma McIntyre.

Even that was no issue to Lightbody and his partner, as they cruised through 21-17 21-15 to take the title.

Lightbody would have been placed to make it a treble haul of titles had his men’s doubles partner not had to pull out.

Meanwhile, in the ladies’ section, Beth Stephenson began with victories over Banbridge District’s Judith McClure and top seed Lucie Corcoran to lead her to the semi-final.

Beth started confidently against Norma McIntyre, ranked number eight in Ireland and runner-up in the Autumn Open earlier this season. She could have snatched the opening set instead of being one set in arrears 21-19 but the KADCA player grew in confidence, finished strongly 21-10 and won the title beating Moya Ryan 21-18 21-12 in the final.

In the doubles, Beth and Clodagh Dunne once again proved they are one of the most promising partnerships in Ireland when they knocked out number two seeds Kirsty Kelly and Norma McIntyre in the semis 21-15 7-21 22-20 before losing out to top seeds Lucie Corcoran and Crona Rooney in the final.