As the Leinster U13 Yonex Open drew to a climax Alpha’s Jeffrey Rong was still in three semi-finals bidding to improve on his No2 seeding in both the Boy’s Singles and Mixed Doubles while Jeffrey and Andrew Hassett had already captured the Ulster U13 Boy’s Doubles title and were hot favourites for the Leinster title.
They had seen off Dylan Keane and Aaryan Mahesh 21-12 21-7 and only the unseeded Rhys Mcauley and Zac Mcauley would stand between them and securing another place in the final where they were seeded to face Robert Cowman and Adhithyan Gopinath.
However with Cillian Dowling and Lorcan McGrange progressing to the final as a result of two walkovers in the bottom half of the draw, a further shock was in store when the top seeds, Jeffrey and Andrew, were to have the opening set snatched from their grasp by Rhys and Zac Mcauley 21-19.
Having faced them in the Ulster U13 Open less than a month previously and winning 23-21 21-13 Rong and Hassett responded in the only way they could by cruising to the second set 21-11 and dominating the proceedings.
The decider was a close affair with both pairs capable of booking their place in the Leinster final but it was Rhys and Zac who were to secure their place in the final against Dowling and Mcgrane 22-20 with their opponents having yet to play a single match thanks to TWO walkovers.
No2 seed Jeffrey Rong was joined in the Boy’s Singles draw by his Alpha team-mate Kaden Tang and can be more than satisfied with his performance despite losing 21-12 21-12 to Jack Power, who went on to reach the semi-final.
Rong, on the other hand was rarely troubled on his way through to the semi-final overcoming Rhys Mcauley 21-13 21-14, Jerald Baiju (Letterkenny) 21-12 21-13 before easing through 21-10 21-5 against Lorcan Mcgrane to book his place in the final against the top seeded Andrew Hassett.
The final will however go down in the annals of the prestigious competition as one of the closest affairs in recent years with the Alpha player Jeffrey Rong battling it out for supremacy against Whitewell Road Junior Club’s Andrew Hassett in a 30 minute epic final.
It was Jeffrey who was to edge through by the narrowest of margins, keeping focussed on the task at hand to secure the title 26-24 21-17, in a clash which both will find hard to replicate in future meetings.
Alpha’s Amber Buchanan was seeded No2 in the Girl’s Singles and saw off Alvana Savio 23-3 21-4 in her opening match, only to lose to Kimberley Pearson 21-15 21-14 in the quarter-final but the pair were soon to make up to secure a place in the final of the Girl’s Doubles, first ending the hopes of Amira Pender and Hannah
Shochan 23-21 21-15 and then Liya and Riya Prakas 21-15 21-14.
Their opponents in the final were the top seeds Nicole Joy and Zarah Pender, whom they haven’t played before, but Nicole is ranked No1 in all three disciplines at Under 13 level. The scoreline of 21-7 21-11 in favour of Joy and Pender will surely give a major boost for future competitions.
The Mixed Doubles final was contested by the two top seeds Andrew Hassett and Nicole Joy against No2 seeds Jeffrey Rong and Kimberley Pearson with the latter pair being severely tested in the semi by Lorcan Mcgrane and Zara Pender, before coming through 21-17 17-21 21-16 but it was a different matter in the final as the top
seeds were to dominate the proceedings, lifting the title 21-14 21-16.
LEINSTER U17 YONEX OPEN
In a weekend of shocks Matthew Cheung was to win both the Boy’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles titles without too much trouble but his doubles partner Vincent Pontanosa was to cause the upset of the competition by capturing the Boy’s Singles title from the grasp of Alpha’s Matthew Cheung.
This is the FIRST time that Pontanosa has beaten Cheung in TWENTY local encounters from November 2014 and only seven matches have even gone to a third set.
Matthew had progressed into the final with his usual aplomb hardly breaking sweat against Darragh Murtagh 21-9 21-8, Peter Kosutic 21-8 21-9, Richard Kong 21-10 21-8 and in the semi-final Scott Guildea, the No3/4 seed was restricted to 21-11 21-15.
However with Pontanosa also showing his credentials as Ireland’s No2 in this age group, he was equally convincing on his passage to the final, beating Tom Nuzum 21-3 21-4, Rigertas Rutkauskas 21-9 21-9, Tiaman O’Rourke, the No5/8 seed 21-8 21-11 and the ¾ seed Ben Lawlor 21-7 21-9.
Last time Cheung and Pontanosa faced each other it was Vincent who had gone one set up in the Ulster U19 Open at the end of September snatching the set 24-22, before the RBAI pupil came back to take the title 21-13 21-18 but this time Vincent took the opener convincingly 21-14, lost the second 21-13 and then held on to take the title 21-18.
In the Boy’s Doubles the top seeds Cheung and Pontanosa eased through in straight sets against Conor Power and Alpha’s Yashwin Shyam - who had booked their place in the quarter-final with a 21-17 21-13 victory over Peter Kosutic and Patrick O’Sullivan - and No3/4 seeds Adam Daynes/Tiarnan O’Rourke and were rarely
troubled by Scott Guildea and Ben Lawlor in the final.
There were also a number of some noteworthy performances from Dylan Noble and Alpha’s Stuart McCollam who knocked out Neil O’Sullivan and Sean Wynne 21-15 21-13 and then James Fleming and Richard Kong 21-15 17-21 21-17 before losing out to the No2 seeds Guildea and Lawlor 23-21 21-11.
Chris Chee and Joshua Tang got in some valuable experience too as they beat Aman Kothiyal and Darragh Murtagh in three sets before losing out in straight sets to Fionn Dowling and Senan O’Rourke.
Having already lifted the Girl’s Singles and Doubles titles (with Laura Comer) Sophia Noble secured her hat-trick of Leinster U17 titles by teaming up with Matthew Cheung to see off the bid from No2 seeds Scott Guildea and Laura Comer 21-13 21-17 in just 15 minutes.