Alpha players on form to fire Ulster on to secure promotion

Alpha's Stuart Lightbody (front) and Tony Murphy take a brief breather while on Ulster duty.
Alpha's Stuart Lightbody (front) and Tony Murphy take a brief breather while on Ulster duty.

Alpha stars last weekend helped Ulster secure promotion from Division Three North in the Senior County Championships thanks to two narrow victories over Lothian.

Ulster’s record saw wins over Cheshire Two 12-3 and 8-7, Nottingham Two 12-3 12-3, Northumberland 9-6 and 9-6 and Lothian 8-7 and 9-6.

Without Tony Stephenson, Tony Murphy and Stuart Lightbody occupied the two singles berths. Murphy lost narrowly to Matthew Carder 24-22 21-19 while Lightbody took Gordon Hoggan to three sets losing 23-21 in the deciding set.

However, Sinead Chambers and Pam Peard ensured that Ulster were level after the singles. Chambers recorded a 21-10 21-12 victory over Hannah Laing while Peard put in an excellent performance to snatch a straight sets win 21-16 22-20.

Three of the four men’s doubles were won by Ulster with Murphy and Lightbody in total control against Thomas Bethell and Michael Campbell (21-9 21-17). Although the Lothian pair of Carder and Hoggan made life more difficult for Ciaran Chambers and Conor Hickland, the Ulster pair came through in straight sets while in the reverse doubles Murphy and Lightbody won 21-9 21-10 and Chambers and Hickland lost 21-19 21-18.

The women’s doubles saw Sinead Chambers and Catherine Coyle in cruise control against Laing and Richardson winning in straight sets. They were made to fight all the way for a two set win over Sandra Watt and Suzanne Gray 23-21 22-20 while Pam Peard and Valerie Martin took Laing and Richardson to three.

With Ulster edging into a 7-5 lead and therefore only requiring one of the mixed games to seal the victory, it went right down to the last game with Lightbody and Catherine Coyle taking the very close third mixed 21-19.

On Sunday, Ulster came out of the singles holding a 3-1 advantage. Ulster had a slight 7-5 lead going into the mixed ties and came out on top, winning two of the three final ties and taking the match 9-6.

ULSTER; S Chambers, C Coyle, P Peard, R Getty, T Murphy, C Chambers, S Lightbody, C Hickland.