Organisers behind the Alpha Easter Tournament supported by First Trust Bank would have found it extremely difficult to choose a Player of the Tournament award last week, such was the quality of badminton on show.
A relative newcomer to the sport, Matthew McClimonds certainly made an impression, fighting his way through a very tough round robin group of the Under 13 Boys Singles and beating the fancied Jason Ferguson 21-15 before losing out to another definite contender for the award Stuart McCollam 21-12 in a semi-final.
McClimonds was to partner Rachel Mooney to finish runner-up in the Under 13 mixed doubles with the title going to Jack Armstrong and Sarah Cherry.
Not unexpectedly, two players who were competing in the Under 11 age group Stuart McCollam and 9 year-old Chloe Woods would have been knocking on the door for the award, with Stuart winning two titles in this age category but adding the boys doubles title at Under 13 (in partnership with Jack Armstrong) and the mixed doubles at Under 15 (with Alex Chan Taylor) for good measure.
It was to be a hectic few days for Alpha’s Chloe Woods, who was to lift a hat-trick of titles in the Alpha Easter Tournament – not forgetting a runner-up in the Under 13 girls doubles with Rebecca Wallace - and then had to rush off to win the girls doubles title in the Leinster Easter Tournament with her sister Paige, beating Neasa and Siofra Flynn 21-13 in the deciding set.
In Lisburn, Chloe progressed through the round robin group with six victories before seeing off her younger sister Paige 21-8 21-11 in the final.
The Woods sisters were far from convincing in the opening set of their girls doubles final in which they faced Erin Brennan and Roisin McKenna with the latter pair pushing them all the way to 21-17 before the siblings secured the title 21-9.
The impressive Jason Ferguson from Banbridge got his hands on the mixed doubles title by helping Chloe Woods to her third title when they recorded a 21-12 21-7 win over Tom Gillespie and Erin Brennan.
The Under 13 age group not unexpectedly was the domain of Jack Armstrong with a hat-trick of titles, adding the mixed doubles with Sarah Cherry while Harmonie Ferguson came out on top in both the single and the girls doubles, partnering Sarah Cherry.
The Under 15 girls singles was expected to be a clash between Alex Chan Taylor and Megan Ferguson but while Alex successfully negotiated the round robin group stages undefeated, Megan was to suffer a 21-18 defeat at the hands of Anna Comer and lost 21-20 to Phoebe Larmour to spoil her chances of a final against her close friend.
In the final the opening set could have gone either way but it was Comer who edged ahead in the latter stages to take the set 21-18 and Miss Taylor was unable to strike the consistency which her game usually reaches.
Hannah Brennan and Phoebe Larmour then spoiled the hopes of Taylor and Ferguson in the doubles. The latter duo staged a remarkable fight-back to take the second set 21-19 after losing the opener 21-14 but on this occasion it was the Brennan/Larmour partnership who edged ahead to take the title 21-18.
There was some joy in the Taylor camp when Alex partnered Stuart McCollam to lift the mixed doubles crown beating Siam Alderdice and Hannah Brennan in a real cliff hanger 21-15 18-21 21-8 while Kai McPeak lifted the boys singles title after a 21-16 18-21 21-16 defeat of Matthew Robb.
Robb was to partner Conor Galway to victory in the boys doubles with them coming through 21-9 in the deciding set to beat Alderdice and Reid Lonsdale.