Words: Barry Garnham (Events Director, Badminton Wales)
To celebrate the 120th Anniversary of Badminton Ireland, teams from England, Scotland and Wales were invited to Dublin on the 5th October 2019 to compete in the inaugural Irish International Graded Quadrangular. Each country sent four teams comprising Grades E, F, G & H to represent the player base of Badminton in each country.
The Graded International is a special event and was the first of its kind, providing a fantastic opportunity for the Badminton Wales club players to participate in an International set up event. The format created a unique experience as the teams competed in a round-robin group, each match consisting of 5 rubbers. The 5 rubbers were men’s singles, ladies’ singles, men’s doubles, ladies doubles and a mixed doubles. Each rubber was played to the best of 3 games to 21 points, with rally point scoring and extended play where necessary. The event was broadcast live on Badminton Ireland's YouTube channel and through the Live Score Badminton Ireland App, featuring player profiles and match schedules.
The first match of round 1 saw Wales E vs Ireland E. Gavin Kirby Opened the singles losing 19-21, 21-12, 17-21. Alice Rhodes followed with another narrow loss, 22-20, 17-21, 15-21. The start of the doubles saw Barry Garnham (Grade E Team Captain) and Gavin Kirby edged out 21-23, 21-15, 19-21 giving Ireland an unrepresentative but hard fought 3-0 lead. Unwilling to concede, Alice Rhodes and Katie Whiteman fought back taking the team’s first win, 21-18, 21-17. Ian Lovatt and Katie Whiteman followed winning the mixed doubles 21-16, 21-20, resulting in an incredibly close 2-3 match loss. The second match saw Wales F vs England F. Chris Jeynes opened the singles losing 21-23, 13-21, followed by Carol Davey who also lost 8-21, 9-21. The doubles were a lot closer with Chris Short (Grade F Team Captain) and Chris Jeynes narrowly losing 21-16, 24-26, 14-21. Terrie Kelleher and Carol Davey pulled back the first win for their team 21-16, 21-19. Unfortunately, the opposition were too strong on this occasion and Chris Short and Terrie Kelleher lost 17-21, 17-21 resulting in a 4-1 match loss. The third match saw Wales G vs Scotland G. Darius Garnham (Grade G Team Captain) opened the singles with an impressive 21-14, 21-16 win, followed by Sarah John who dominated 21-8, 21-5. After a strong start, Darius Garnham and Daniel Rhodes pressed the advantage in the doubles winning 21-15, 21-17, followed by Sarah John and Rhian Owen who backed this up with a 21-19, 21-11 win. Undefeated, Daniel Rhodes and Rhian Owen stormed across the line 21-8, 21-2 in the mixed resulting in Wales’ first 5-0 match win. The final match saw Wales H vs England H. Simon Pill opened the singles winning 21-11, 21-18, followed by Sandra Lovell losing 16-21, 10-21. Alex Dalton (Grade H Team Captain) and Simon Pill won the men’s doubles 21-19, 21-17 followed by Sandra Lovell and Lucy Whiteman losing the ladies 16-21, 16-21 to bring the match level again. Alex Dalton and Lucy Whiteman lost 7-21, 14-21 in the mixed, resulting in a 2-3 match loss.
The second round was a complete success for Wales with all teams winning their respective matches. Wales E vs Scotland E resulted in a 3-2 match win, the highlight being Barry Garnham and Alice Rhodes dominating the deciding mixed doubles 21-10, 21-9 to win the match. Wales F vs Ireland F resulted in a 4-1 match win, with the highlight being Chris Jeynes taking the opening singles 21-9, 21-9. Wales G vs England G resulted in a 4-1 match win, the highlight being Sarah John’s 21-14, 21-9 win in the ladies’ singles. Wales H vs Ireland H resulted in a 3-2 match win, the highlight being Alex Dalton and Sandra Lovell’s epic comeback to narrowly lose 10-21, 22-20, 26-28.
The third round was almost as successful for Wales. Wales E vs England E resulted in a narrow 2-3 match loss, with the highlight being the battle of Alice Rhodes and Katie Whiteman winning the ladies’ doubles 23-21, 21-19. Wales F vs Scotland F resulted in a 3-2 match win, the highlight being Chris Short and Carol Davey’s narrow defeat in the mixed 20-22, 22-24. Wales G vs Ireland G resulted in a 5-0 match win, the highlight being Darius Garnham’s swinging singles win, 21-16, 12-16, 21-10 to open his teams undefeated run. Wales H vs Scotland H resulted in a 3-2 match win, the highlight being Alex Dalton and Sandra Lovell’s match clinching mixed doubles, winning 21-12, 17-21, 21-17.
Full tournament results are available here.
After the three rounds of fierce competition, Wales E with two narrow losses placed a slightly disappointing third place in their grade with the gold only a few key points away. Wales F with two strong wins earned a silver medal finishing in second place behind England F. Wales G with three dominant performances won all their matches to take a thoroughly deserved gold medal finishing in first place. Wales H placed joint first with England and Scotland, but frustratingly on countback, finished in third place having beat Scotland H who earned the gold.
Although there was no overall prize, when combining the results of the 4 teams, England had the best overall results, with Wales a close second, followed by Scotland third and the host nation Ireland fourth overall. Ireland’s gradings are a little more established than the other nations, however the play over the 12 matches was extremely close; proving the worth of the grading system. In fact, many matches were narrowly won 3-2, with many more rubbers won 2-1 in games, and often in extended play meaning that medals were decided by a few crucial points.
This was an outstanding event and a great advert for National Badminton at the club and aspiring international level. The Team Manager Huw John, Welsh kit sponsor Victor and staff at Badminton Wales have made this possible for the Welsh players. The commitment and positive attitude of the players enhanced the event in the true spirit of badminton. The intention is that this will become an annual event showcasing the best of Welsh graded level players.