Alpha players return to podium in Leinster after eighteen months

With so little badminton having been played in the province up until recently, the performances of our top youngsters at the U13 and U17 Leinster Open last week can only be described as a major fillip to the sport with Paige Woods partnering Dylan Noble to the U17 Doubles title while at the other end of the age bracket Jeffrey Rong lifted a triple haul of titles at U13 level, writes Brian Kelly.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 12:10 pm
Paige Woods happy with her gold medal in the U17 Leinster Open

Paige, who like Jeffrey had not played a competitive match for eighteen months, had an early start to the Girls Singles and was seeded ¾. She was to find herself a set down to Eva Bogoslovaskaya, having lost the opener 21-14.

She drew level capturing the second 21-16 only to see her opponent snatch victory from her in the decider 22-20.

However Paige got back on track with two straight set victories in the mixed doubles with her partner Dylan Noble, and as No2 seeds, were due to face the top seeds Richard Kong and Eva Bogoslovaskaya in the final after a walkover against Rory Comer and Roisin McKenna.

Jeffrey Rong

Dylan and Paige were to upset the seedings when they captured the title with a 21-15 21-16 victory.

In the Girls Doubles it was the Woods sisters Paige and Chloe who were to suffer a 21-15 21-19 defeat at the hands of Chloe McGrane and Michelle Shochan in an exciting 32 minute clash which was Chloe’s second defeat at the hands of Miss McGrane, having lost a tough three setter 21-10 in the third set of the singles to her.

In the mixed doubles Chloe, who had teamed up with James Fleming, threatened to cause a major upset in the mixed doubles by going one set up against top seeded pair Richard Kong and Eva Bogoslovaskaya, only to lose 21-9 21-16.

TRIPLE FOR JEFFREY

Jeffrey Rong may have dipped his toes in badminton in the Ulster Under 11 competition back in September 2015 and been a double champion in the Under 13 Nationals back in 2020 and he was to reign supreme in last weekend’s Leinster U13 Open, capturing the boys singles title, beating Andrew Hassett in the final before lifting both doubles crowns for good measure.

Last weekend was another major milestone in the junior career of Rong as he saw off Ben McElligott 21-5, 21-10 in the quarter-final of the singles and followed this up with a 21-10, 21-8 defeat of Conor Blakeman in the semis.

Awaiting him in the final was the unseeded Corey Chambers who had ended the hopes of the No2 seed 21-18 in the third set of their quarter-final which lasted 43 minutes but Rong was in no mood for a long three setter in the final and captured the title 21-10, 21-18.

Despite a difficult opener in the mixed doubles when partnering Amira Pender, when they faced Amy Moore and Corey Chambers, they secured the mixed doubles title with consummate ease, overcoming Robert Cowman and Hannah Shochan.

It was a welcome return to the sport for Laura Bell, who only lost out to Michelle Shochan, the No3 seed 21-17, 21-10 while Roisin McKenna also gave Shochan more than a few headaches despite going down 21-17, 21-13.

Chloe Woods also got off to a good start in her singles clash with Chris McGrane but her lack of matches put her at a disadvantage from which she could not recover succumbing eventually to her opponent, 21-17, 21-13.