Ulster titles galore for local Badminton stars

THERE was success for local badminton stars at the Ulster Under 17 Open Championships, which were held at the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn last weekend.

The event proved to be a hugely successful tournament for local players, with four of the five titles in the championships being won by Alpha players.

Martin Lau, a member of Alpha Badminton Club produced what was without doubt the outstanding performance of the championships as he came from behind to beat the top seed and strong favourite, Jonathan Dolan from Sligo, to take the Boys Singles title.

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First though it was Matthew Getty who was to knock out the seeded Joshua Magee in the quarter-finals taking the opening set on a knife edge 21-19 before being edged out himself in the latter stages of the second set 18-21 and booked a place in the semi-final by winning the deciding set comfortably 21-6.

And the top seed from Sligo who had knocked out David Nayton and Ciaran Chambers on the way was to be stunned by the youngster from the home club who took the opening set 21-16.

The second set couldn't have been closer and the top seed was almost out of the competition only calling on all his experience to take the game into the deciding set on a 23-21 margin.

The final set saw both Dolan and Getty fight for every point only for Dolan's extra experience to see him through 21-18 in the decider but Getty can surely reflect on the point that very few players in underage badminton have taken Dolan so close.

The other half of the draw was equally interesting with first Ryan Stewart seriously testing the seeded Liam O'Leary 21-16 21-18 to be followed by Nicholas Murphy taking the opening set from O' Leary only to falter 21-13 21-17.

O'Leary however was no match for Martin Lau, a 21-10 21-7 winner over Ryan Getty who was to book his place in the final with a comprehensive straight sets win over O'Leary.

Dolan took the opening set 14-21 but Lau levelled at one set all taking the second 21-19 and as the game entered the latter stages Lau was never going to allow Dolan to take the title home and he edged ahead to take the title 21-18.

Martin Lau was in line to add the mixed doubles title when in partnership with Victoria Ringland they brought the challenge of No2 seeds Liam O'Leary and Clodagh Kent to an end but it was their Alpha clubmates and top seeds Ciaran Chambers and Commonwealth Games bound Caroline Black who were to claim the title on a 21-16 21-14 scoreline.

The Boys Single Plate Competition additionally saw two Alpha players in the final with Norman Lau beating Chris Irwin 21/16 in the third set.

Alannah Stephenson captured both the singles and girls doubles title in partnership with Keady Smith.

She had a convincing victory in the singles over Leinster's Clodagh Kent, whose place in the final was in doubt after Keady Smith had taken the opening set of her semi-final against the No2 seed only for Kent to progress to the final by taking the next two sets 21-15 21-11.