Paige returns with Bronze from U15 contest in Milton Keynes

Paige Woods wins Bronze in Milton Keynes
Paige Woods wins Bronze in Milton Keynes

Alpha’s Paige Woods has enjoyed such an amazing start to the season that even when faced with the daunting task of facing the No2 seeds in the Mixed Doubles of the prestigious Gold Star U15 event in Milton Keynes was not able to cause her to lose any sleep at the prospect.

Though unseeded, and partnering Leinster’s Dylan Noble, the young partnership obviously relished the challenge of Dillon Chong and Lucy Brierley in their opening match and were boosted by their earlier performances in the singles as they brushed their celebrated opponents aside 21-14 21-18 in just 26 minutes.

Paige Woods with her bronze medal from Milton Keynes

Paige Woods with her bronze medal from Milton Keynes

In the quarter-final they were to face the No5/8 seeds Jack Moore and Sofie Chong but after cruising through the opening set 21-13, the second was a totally different contest and they had to call upon all their court craft and energy to see their opponents off 26-24 and secure a place in the last four.

Lewis Coghill and Brooke Stalker were next up and they too had caused an upset by ending the hopes of the No3/4 seeds Jason Ou and Lila Dundas in a cliff hanger lasting 39 minutes 21-17 20-22 21-14.

The Noble/Woods partnership had an outstanding opening set and were both right on top of their game and fully deserving of capturing the first set 21-19.

The match was then to take on a totally different complexion however and the young Noble/Woods partnership could simply not maintain the effectiveness of their opening set, losing out in straight sets.

Niall McVeigh continues his preparations for Tokyo 2020

Niall McVeigh continues his preparations for Tokyo 2020

Earlier Paige had made a fine start in her opening Gold Star singles against Angie Zhu, taking the first set 21-18, before her opponent pulled back to level in the second 21-16 and in the deciding set, Paige had what would have been an outstanding victory for the young Hunterhouse pupil, snatched from her grasp 22-20 in a match lasting 43 minutes and had spectators on the edge of their seats.

Left to ponder on whether she would have been able to snatch a victory had two net cords not gone against her is often something to ponder on initially in the aftermath of a narrow defeat, but she can take a great deal of satisfaction from that performance.

Group A was without doubt one of the tightest groups particularly as Paige’s next contest was against the top seeded Katie Savage.

But it was the third ranked Ireland U15 player in Singles - and ranked No7 in the U17 age category - who came out of the blocks determined to take the match to her much vaunted opponent.

Paige went one set up, and continued to be dominant in the exchanges to win 21-17 21-18 and leave the outcome of the group resting on that final group clash between the top seed Savage and Zhu who had beaten Paige 22-20 in the deciding set but it was Zhu who went through 21-12 21-18, leaving the Alpha youngster to consider what might have been.

She however was to dispel any such thoughts once a very competitive Mixed Doubles competition got underway and she renewed her partnership with Dylan Noble, the young Leinster player who had topped his group in the U15 Boys Singles and had ended the hopes of the top seed Aarav Sujith 21-15 21-14 before losing out to the No2 seed Lewis Coghill 19-21 21-19 21-15.

McVeigh Misses Out On Quarter Final Place

Niall McVeigh could hardly have wished for a more difficult opening match against Chun Yim Wong, the No5/6 seed, in Group E of the SSH6 class in the Hulic Daihatsu Japan Para-Badminton International at the National Stadium in Tokyo, particularly as the pair have met on no fewer than two occasions in the past few months.

They had faced each other in Round 3 of the China Para-Badminton International in Hangzhou back at the end of September when Wong won 21-19 21-12 in a group match lasting 35 minutes, having found themselves once again on opposite sides of the net in the quarter-final of the Thailand Para-Badminton International a week or so

earlier when Wong edged through 21-18 21-10.

Last week Chun Yim Wong, the No5/6 seed, raced into a 7-2 lead and held an impressive advantage at the interval 11-6 before pulling back to level at 11-all.

Wong stepped up his game to lead 16-12 but again it was the former two-times World and European champion McVeigh, who pulled back once again to level at 16-all with everything to play for.

The Hong Kong player took the next three points to lead 19-16 with the Ireland No1 only able to further reduce the deficit with one point and Wong sealed the set 21-17 on his first game point.

The second was a much tighter contest but McVeigh was from the outset always chasing the match and never found himself ahead.

At the same time though he was only once four points adrift of the No5/6 seed and certainly was well positioned at the interval at 11-10 before Wong was to make a crucial break to stretch his lead to 16-12 and though McVeigh countered to 20-17, Niall was confident enough that his performance would be enough to see him

into the opening round of the competition.

Next up was Johei Hatakeyama (Japan) and the early stages of the contest were to see Niall’s opponent actually take the lead before romping through with some aplomb 21-12 and in the second set, although he only held a point advantage at the interval, it was McVeigh who was to seal his first victory of the group 21-15.

Indonesian player Asep Sutisna was to prove quite a handful, despite McVeigh having enjoyed the best of the early exchanges and enjoyed a 6-1 lead.

Instead it was the Indonesian who rapidly reached the interval with an 11-8 advantage.

It was late in the opening game before McVeigh was to pull away again from 14-all to enjoy a three point lead at 18-15 eventually capturing the set 21-19.

The second set was even tighter right up to 13 points all before McVeigh pulled ahead to take the match 21-16 and take his place in Round One of the main draw.

His opponent was Lin Naili (China) and although the Ireland No1 enjoyed a 5-0 lead in the opening game he had to pull out all the stops to take the set 21-18 and the second was even tighter with McVeigh and Naili at 20-all before the Chinese player snatched the set 22-20.

There was very little between the two players in the deciding set, with McVeigh enjoying a one point advantage at the interval but that was overturned almost immediately as Naili raced to a 15-11 advantage and clinched the victory 21-17, to end Niall’s hopes of facing the top seeded England player Jack Shephard in the quarter-final.