Traditionally our local schools have enjoyed considerable success in the Ulster Schools Champion of Champions competition but this year Friends School Lisburn for example reached the final of the Minor Girls Doubles, the Senior Girls Singles and the Minor Girls Singles but saw all three titles snatched from their grasp.
Hunterhouse though once again featured prominently on the winner’s podium capturing both the Minor Girl’s Singles and Doubles while Matthew Cheung, who was to make his Ulster senior debut over the weekend, was to lift the Junior Boys Singles, thus upgrading the Minor Boys title he won last year.
14 year-old Cheung was to ease his way through to the final with a 21-5 victory over Ethan Campbell (Our Lady and St Patrick’s College) while Ballyclare High’s James Butler suffered a similar loss at the hands of the RBAI pupil.
In the final Cheung faced Yashwin Shyam of Sullivan Upper, who had ended the hopes of Mackenzie Connor 21-7 and David Kee (Royal & Prior) 21-5 but was unable to wrestle the Champion of Champions title from the talented Alpha player going down 21-7 21-5 in the final.
Chris Chee was bidding to retain the Minor Boy’s Singles title for the Belfast school and was defending Matthew’s title and made a fine start to his challenge by winning both of his matches in Group B with wins over Callum Laird (Royal and Prior) 21-16 and Carrig Muldoon 21-9 (Friends).
However after ending the hopes of Timothy Corrigan 21-13 21-4 in the semi-final, the final against Rory Comer was a step too far for young Chee, losing the opening set 21-14 and had an opportunity to take the match into a deciding set.
But Comer’s power and experience was to see the New Bridge player through to the title for what was a most successful competition for the family, with sister Laura crowned the Junior Girls Singles champion while Anna lifted the Senior Girls Singles crown.
The Senior Boy’s Singles was typically a tight contest with RBAI’s Jack Livingstone crucially losing his group match against Bangor Grammar’s Ben Dempster 21-15 and Royal & Prior’s Ben Darragh 21-19 but it was Alpha’s Dempster who was to capture the title 21-14 17-21 21-13 in a 35 minute marathon.
Hunterhouse were to add the Minor Girl’s Doubles title when Chloe Woods and Lucy Hogg lifted the Champion of Champions title, but this was only achieved after initially overcoming Grace McAlister and Lucy Millar (Ballyclare High), they were to suffer a 21-20 loss at the hands of Jasmine Buchanan and Alana Jiandani
(Friends) and were therefore all the more tuned in when the two pairs faced each other in the final to gain their revenge and capture the title 21-12 21-15.
Hunterhouse’s Paige Woods eased through the Group stages of the Minor Girl’s Singles beating Rea Glenn and Ellie Andrew but was to face Laura Bell (Friends) in her final group match but it was the Friends player who was to top the group with a 21-15 victory only for Paige to go one set up in the final.
However Bell was not going to give the title up without a fight and it was a relieved Woods who fought off the challenge to capture the coveted Minor crown 21-13 22-20.
McVeigh in Tokyo for Further Test
This week saw the Hulic Daihatsu Japan Para-Badminton International getting underway in Tokyo with Alpha’s Niall McVeigh competing in the Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles as the badminton fraternity gathers in Tokyo for a tournament that serves as the test event for the 2020 Paralympics and the excitement begins to go
This week’s competition has an entry of twenty for the Singles with England’s current World champion Jack Shephard seeded No1 while India’s Nagar Krishna is in the No2 slot though Krishna won in Thailand back in September.
Shephard’s doubles partner Krysten Coombs, who has been an adversary of McVeigh for many years is at No3/4 while Brazil’s Vitor Goncalves Tavares is also seeded to contest the semi-final.
Two USA players have got in to the trio of 5/8 seeds, Miles Krajewski and Didin Taresoh while Chun Yim Wong (Hong Kong China) completes the seedings in Tokyo but Ireland’s McVeigh has been in such a rich vein of form recently, with a 21-9 21-9 victory over Krajewski in the 2 nd round of the Denmark competition last month - not to mention carrying off the Doubles title with Isaak Dalglish - while a quarter-final defeat in Odense by Krysten Coombs 18-21 21-17 21-15 will have given McVeigh a further boost to his confidence.
In the China Para-Badminton International back in September Niall’s hopes were ended at the hands of Chun Yim Wong but will have been able to reflect on having been poised to capture that opening set before having it snatched awayfrom his grasp 21-19 while in Bangkok in September it was Chun Yim Wong who ended Ireland’s two-times world and European champion’s challenge 21-18 in a close opening set.