This weekend the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn hosts the Forza Ulster Premier Open and Alpha’s own Ciaran Chambers will be hoping to cause more than a few upsets particularly in the Walsin Men’s Doubles, having partnered Mark Brady to the title last year.
They totally outplayed the No2 seeds Daniel Magee and Sam McKay 21-18 21-10 but do not need reminding that they were taken all the way in the semi-final by Ulster’s Tony Murphy and Tony Stephenson, who last won the coveted title back in 2017.
It was Murphy and Stephenson who dominated the opening exchanges taking the first set 21-11 before Brady and Chambers drew level taking the second 21-17 and in the decider, as one would have expected, it was a real cliff-hanger with Brady/Chambers squeezing through 25-23.
This weekend though Ciaran will be renewing his partnership with Ryan Stewart and they are seeded to reach the semi-finals with their campaign getting underway against Declan Bennett and Tony Crowley.
After winning the Men’s Doubles title last year Ciaran had high hopes of capturing a second title but this was narrowly to elude him, thus bringing to an end a run of four successive Ulster Mixed Doubles titles with his sister Sinead, who is currently enjoying being part of the England Para Badminton support team, building up to the Paralympics in Tokyo next year.
This time Ciaran will be teaming up with Judith McClure and they have an interesting opening match against Mark Topping, a former Alpha international of considerable standing, and Vicki Pesti, who are seeded No1 ahead of Sean Patrick Laureta and Orla Flynn.
This year Murphy and Stephenson will begin their challenge to regain their Men’s Doubles title against Darragh Higgins and Patrick Martin with the prospect of facing Ian and Ryan Macbeth while Jack Armstrong and Sean Patrick Laureta will have to see off No3/4 seeds John Amond and Brian O’Mahony if they are to progress into the quarter-finals.
This year’s Walsin Men’s Singles could be the most open competition in years with Mark Brady last season’s champion not in the draw and Jack O’Brien in the No1 slot followed by Callum Thomas, Adam McAllister and Azhar Syed.