Alpha players were to the fore at the championships last year when Rachel Woods was on the podium finishing with gold in Under 13 Singles and Mixed Doubles, but at the weekend Alpha’s complement of players were more substantial as Rachael and Rebecca Woods – playing in the Alpha Plus side - were joined by Beth Stephenson and Jack Armstrong who were members of the Irish Under 15 and Under 13 teams respectively.
Competing against some of Europe’s top players in this age group Alpha Plus opened with a convincing 4-1 victory over Wales in Group A with Rachael Woods winning her mixed doubles in three sets partnering Adam McAllister and then teaming up with twin Rebecca to record a 21-17 21-19 win over Rhea Hemmadi and Ellis Richards although Rebecca was to lose in three to Rhea in the girls singles clash again in three sets.
Next up for Alpha Plus was Dynamite, a team led by Anna Bygum who was the top seed in the Individual event which took place on Saturday and Sunday.
Rachael though can be quite satisfied with her performances though and came so close to taking the opening set against Miss Bygum before losing 21-19 21-16 and in the doubles with Rebecca they were to take the opening set from the highly fancied Helen Kelly and Sofie Nyvang going down 15-21 21-14 21-13 and Adam McAllister was the only winner in a 4-1 defeat which was to put paid to any chances of the side going further in the competition.
However, they were far from disgraced in their final match against a strong team from Stockholm, losing 3-2 in Scotstown but it all could have been so different as Rachael in the the mixed doubles, partnering Adam McAllister fought back from one set down to level taking the second 21-13 only for Fabian Bergman Karlson and Ellen Scott finished the stronger 21-9.
In the singles Rebecca lost the opening set 21-7 but came back to cause her opponent Matilda Kapell more than a few problems and was well worth her tally in the second 21-16.
In the doubles Kapell /Skott got the better of the Woods twins after taking the Alpha pair had taken the opening set 21-17 only to go down 21-10 21-10.
Alpha’s Beth Stephenson was a member of the Irish Warriors side but were to finish bottom of their Group beaten by both the Mighty Vikings and a strong Glasgow side 3-2.
However, the Wallace youngster was never overawed by the occasion and the strength of the opposition and it really is a testament as to how the young Alpha player has come on this season, and how the winning of the Ulster Open has made to the Lisburn player.
The Irish Warriors despite the presence of our own Beth Stephenson and Clodagh Dunne were always up against it if they were going to make any impression on their group against the Mighty Vikings and the home side of Glasgow.
In the opening match they faced strong opposition in their opening encounter against Glasgow with Beth teaming up with Des Duggan in the mixed against Aidan Delaney and Julie Eve.
After winning the opening set convincingly 21-13 they were to be pegged back by the Scottish partnership finishing on the wrong end of a 21-18 scoreline and despite having plenty of opportunities to take the match lost the third by the same score.
Beth joined forces with her trusted doubles partner Clodagh Dunne in the doubles and they secured the Irish Warriors a victory with a comfortable 21-9 21-4 hiding of Eileen Gordon/Jennifer Lafferty.
But the mixed doubles of Duggan and Stephenson were to find the Mighty Vikings pair Markus Barth and Vera Ellingsen a much different proposition losing out 21-9 21-16 though in the womens doubles Dunne and Stephenson claimed a massive victory 21-19 21-17 over the highly rated Marie Christensen/Vera Ellingsen.
The Irish Warriors were to meet All Stars and Beth won her singles 21-16 23-25 22-20 against Jeel Patel but against Scotland Duggan and Stephenson were beaten in straight sets.
But in the doubles Clodagh Dunne and Beth took the opening set 21-19 but were disappointingly to drop the second 21-14 and had to regain their composure to secure a deserved victory 21-15.
The Irish team were, however, to go down 3-2 to Scotland with Clodagh Dunne beating the top Scottish player Rachel Cameron 21-15 21-19 while the doubles partnership of Miss Dunne and Miss Stephenson triumphed in the doubles 21-19 14-21 21-15.
In the Girls Doubles Beth Stephenson and Clodagh Dunne were seeded 3/5 and had a straight sets victory over Eileen Gordon/Jennifer Lafferty 21-18 21-10 but were then disappointingly beaten by Swedish pair Matilda Kapell/Ellen Skott in a clash lasting just short of 50 minutes.
The Swedes took the first set 21-17 only for the pair who have dominated the age group in Ireland this year to thoroughly overahadowed their opponents in a 21-9 tournaround but the Swedes held out to book their place in the next round 21-18.
In the individual Under 13 competition Alpha’s Jack Armstrong got through his opening Under 13 boys singles clash against Conor McRobbie from Scotland with a 21-11 21-8 victory at the Cockburn Centre but then had the misfortune to come up against the No1 seed Callum Smith and the young Alpha player put up quite a challenge before making his exit 21-10 21-11 after 27 minutes.
All season the partnership with Peter McDonald had been reigning supreme in all competitions and they certainly showed this against Hamish McCallister and Sam Raeburn, winning 21-9 21-19 but their jubilation was short-lived as No5/7 seeds Toby Leung/Nathan Moore took their chances in the first set which was a real cliff-hanger 21-18 and booked their place in the next round 21-13.