Matthew Cheung is unquestionably one of Ireland’s brightest young badminton prospects with the Alpha star enjoying his most successful seasons to date, capturing five hat-tricks and three double championship wins last year but he has hardly been able to catch his breath as he prepares for what will see him lead an Ireland side in the European U17 Championships in Poland before the end of the month.
Matthew, who plays his badminton at the local club in Lisburn Alpha Badminton Club, has recently been put through his paces during some intensive coaching while holidaying in Hong Kong and may well have been suffering some jet lag on his return to the tournament scene when he had to be satisfied with a semi-final in the U17 Boy’s Doubles at the Gold Gloucester competition.
Partnering Vincent Pontanosa they were seeded No2 behind top English pair Blake Hoang and Samuel Jones and easily negotiated the round robin section without dropping a single set and ended the hopes of Oliver Butler and Harry Jones 21-14 21-8.
In the semi-final they faced Luke Hoult and Zak Linley-Moss, the No ¾ seeds, who were to go one up, capturing the opening set 21-15 before Matthew and Vincent took the match into the deciding set winning the second by the same score.
The decider could not have been closer though and it was the Ireland pair who were poised to book their place in the final as they raced to an 18-13 advantage but could simply not close the match off and it was Luke and Zak who secured a 21-19 victory.
The Boy’s Singles certainly saw Cheung get off to a flying start despite being unseeded and in a section which had been one of the toughest of the four sections.
His opening opponent was the highly rated Daniel McMillan and the Alpha 14 year-old was to record a fine 21-11 21-14 victory in just short of half-an-hour and followed this up with a very tight win over Luke Hoult 21-19 21-19.
Next up was however Nadeem Dalvi, the No2 seed, who had surprisingly dropped a set in his opening match to Daniel McMillan before coming through 21-19 in the decider.
However that vital spark so often a trademark of the young Alpha player was sadly missing on this occasion and it was Dalvi who was to secure his place in the semi-final 21-16 21-16 before going on to lift the coveted title in straight sets.