Doubles wins for Alpha pair but singles alludes them

Beth Stephenson.
Beth Stephenson.

Rebecca Woods and Beth Stephenson may have lifted the mixed and girls doubles titles in the Ulster Under 17 Championships at the weekend with their respective partners Nhat Nguyen and Clodagh Dunne, but without doubt it was their individual bids to halt the top seed Clodagh Dunne from lifting the girls singles crown which had spectators on the edge of their seats.

Both Alpha players were seeded No3/4 and Rebecca had her work cut out in Round 2 when she dropped the opening set 21-19 to Karen Macnamara.

However, she safely negotiated her passage through to the semi-final against the top seed beating Orla Flynn in straight sets.

Miss Woods made a confident start to the semi-final against the top seed from Taghmon taking the opening set 21-18 and despite being 11-10 down at the interval in the second, was not being overawed by her opponent and even when the Alpha youngster lost the second 21-16 an upset was still very much on the cards.

This time she was ahead at the interval and despite losing a run of points she still enjoyed a 16-12 advantage though three unforced errors were to allow the top seed to get back into the deciding set.

Clodagh was poised to seal a victory at 20-18 but Alpha’s Rebecca wasn’t finished yet and edged closer to victory only for the top seed to hold on to book her place in the final 22-20.

Alpha’s Beth Stephenson will be joined by Clodagh Dunne in the Under 17 Gold competition in Milton Keynes this weekend but having lifted her first senior singles title last year – the coveted Ulster Open title – she was confident that her form of late was good enough to see her lift the singles crown at Ulster Under 17 level.

At 16-13 in arrears she climbed back to 17 all and two smashes finished off points which took her ahead 19-17 and she was never going to allow her opponent back at that stage taking the opening set 21-19.

At the interval Beth held a 11-10 advantage but missed a few opportunities to add to her tally and soon found herself 18-13 in arrears and the top seed took the second 21-15 to take the match into a deciding set.

There was little between the pair in the final set Clodagh 5-2 up only to be pegged back to 8 all and though Clodagh was a few points ahead at the interval, Beth was often playing catch-up and as the latter stages of the final edged ever closer, it was the top seed who stayed in front to win 21-19 in 42 minutes.

Despite being unseeded Beth Stephenson and Clodagh Dunne lifted the Ulster Under 17 girls doubles title, beating Orla Flynn and Alexandra Troy in the final 21-11 21-7.

After taking the opening set of their semi-final against Niamh Gannon and Cliona Mcgowan – 21-19 21-17 victors over No2 seeds Lana Browne and Karen Macnamara – they were to have the second snatched from their grasp 21-19, before they eased through 21-11 in the decider.

Rebecca Woods teamed up with Nhat Nguyen to win the Ulster Under 17 mixed doubles title.

Nhat and Rebecca were never really troubled in the competition, beating Des and Cliodhna Duggan 21-12 21-13 and taking 22 minutes to record a 21-15 21-16 victory over the No2 seeds Mark and Niamh Gannon.

In the final Nguyen and Woods proved too strong for the top seeds Kyle Magee and Clodagh Dunne with Rebecca and Nhat dictating the course of the victory 21-12 21-14.