Badminton Wales

celtic challenge 2019

Celtic Challenge 2019

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February 9 th and 10 th saw the Annual Celtic Challenge competition. This year the competition was held on home soil in Bryn Estyn Badminton Centre in North Wales and although the centre has not hosted this event before it certainly did not disappoint.

Up bright and early on the Saturday morning, the squad were first in the hall, and were clearly in high spirits. Wales were due to take on last year’s winners Lothian first and it would be the boys doubles that would get the match started. The boys got off to a flying start with al three Welsh pairs displaying some top-class doubles tactics. Harper Leigh and Llwyd Crump beat James Miller and Mitchell Speirs 21-12, 21-18. Amay and Eshaan Patil beat Lewis McDonald and Ewan McCartney 21-16, 21-11 and Faaris Ahmad and Eli Owen beat Danny Levy and Jagat Tateneni 21-16, 21-11. The girls were next to take the stage, but they were to Find that Lothian were not about to give up without a fight. Saffron Morris and Anest Lewis Fells were not able to overcome the strength of Vibah Raman and Ishbel McCallister, losing 9-21 and 15-21. Bhavana Balu and Ishasriya Mekala fought hard in their three setter against Elie Bent and Niamh Taylor and their persistence paid off as they took their game 17-21, 21-16, 21-19. Sian Jones and Hannah Ahmed lost to Quing Yang Xiou and Freya McAlpine 7-21, 16-21. After the doubles the score stood at Wales 4, Lothian 2

The singles events were next to be played and once again the Welsh boys showed they were not to be messed with. Harper displayed a great level of fitness and patience in his game against James Miller which went right to the wire and finished 21-19, 19-21, 22-20 to Wales! Llwyd cruised through his game of singles against Lewis McDonald winning by a comfortable 21-9, 21-8 and Amay followed suit with a confident win over Danny Levy 21-5, 21-10. With Wales now taking a 7-2 lead, it was down to the Lothian girls to fight back once again and demonstrating that they were certainly not going to make life easy for the Welsh girls. Saffron fought hard against Vibah Raman but was not able to overcome her Scottish opponent on this occasion losing 10-21, 10-21. Despite making good progress over the year, and growing in confidence, Anest also found her Scottish opponent too strong this time losing 6-21, 10-21 to Ishbel McCallister. Finally, one of Wales’ youngest players Ishasriya put on a brave performance against Quing Yang Xiou but lost out 12-21, 14-21. Going into the mixed the score now stood at Wales 7, Lothian 5! Wales just needed one more game to take the match!

Eshaan and Sian were our first mixed pair to take to the court. They battled hard against Mitchell Speirs and Elie Bent but lost out 13-21, 11-21. All eyes turned to Faaris and Bhavana who put on a display of excellent mixed tactics to beat Euan McCartney and Niamh Taylor 21-13, 21-15! With the Welsh team knowing they had won the match, it was still an exciting finish as Eli and Hannah kept us all on the edge of our seats with their three-set finale and narrowly losing out to Jagat Tatineni and Freya McAlpine18-21, 21-15, 18-21. The final score of the match stood at a closer-than-close Wales 8, Lothian 7!

After a very nice lunch and some time to re-group, the young Welsh team had a quick debrief from head coach Donal who expressed how proud he was at how the team had played and at their mature attitudes on court. The next match for Wales would be against Leinster and having watched some of their games from the morning, Wales knew that was going to be a tough one!

The boys doubles once again started the match but the Welsh boys were not quite able to emulate their morning performances and Leinster certainly put on a display of quality boys doubles. Harper and Llwyd took on Eoghan Cooney and Dylan Noble, losing out 12-21, 17-21. Amay an Eshaan played Senan O’Rourke and Fionn Dowling, losing out 8-21, 11-21 and Faaris and Eli took on Aman Koyjoiy and Darragh Murtagh, losing 15-1, 10-21. The boys were able to take plenty of positives from their brave performances as well as some areas for development. Not feeling disheartened, the girls brave took the stage for the girls doubles event. Saffron and Anest played a more relaxed, confident game against Siofra Flynn and Chloe Mcgrane but were not quite able to get the better of the Irish pair this time, losing 15-21, 14-21. Bhavana and Ishasriya showed improvements, particularly in their second game, losing 10-21, 16-21 to Holly Guildea and Nicole Joy and finally Sian and Hannah seemed to really enjoy their doubles against Ciara O’Shea and Zara Pender despite losing 11-21, 10-21. With the doubles over, the score stood at Leinster 6, Wales 0.

Unfortunately, Harper had to withdraw from his singles game due to an ankle injury but with undampened spirits, both Llwyd and Amay confidently stepped up for their boy’s singles. Llwyd took on Leinster’s Aman Koyjoiyal and once again demonstrated how cool he is under pressure winning 21-15, 21-18 and pleasing the crowd with the notorious ‘Llwyd Crump fist pump’! Amay played Darragh Murtagh and dug really deep in his three-setter, eventually coming out victorious 21-12, 16-21, 21-18! On to the girl’s singles and Saffron was to once again compete against an old nemesis, Siofra Flynn who she knew would be a formidable opponent. Both girls produced some high-quality rallies and performed way beyond their years, but it would be Siofra who would eventually take the game this time 15-21, 18-21. Anest found it difficult to overcome the power and experience of Nicole Joy, losing 11-21, 2-21 and nobody could have predicted how close Ishasriya’s second game of singles would be after she lost out to Ciara O’Shea 5-21, she then went on to narrowly lose 22-24!

Despite the Welsh team now knowing that this match was to go Leinster’s way, the three Welsh mixed pairs knew they still had their time to shine. Eshaan and Sian fought hard against Eoghan Cooney and Holly Guildea, losing 16-1, 9-21. Faaris and Bhavana found it difficult to overcome the might of Senan O’Rourke and Chloe McGrane, losing 6-21, 9-21 but Eli and Hannah proved that they still were not giving up taking Fionn Dowling and Zara Pendeer to three sets and finally losing 21-19, 11-21, 13-21. The final score of this match was Leinster 13, Wales 2. A tired, but satisfied Welsh team headed back to the hotel to relax ready for their final match in the morning.

Spirits were high at breakfast on the Sunday morning, the Welsh team were rested and seemed pleased with their efforts from the previous day. With just Alpha left to play, the Welsh team headed off to Bryn Estyn to get warmed up. With Donal very happy with how all the players had performed he decided that the team would once again remain the same for the final match and so the boy’s doubles took to the stage to start the last match. With his ankle rested, Harper and partner Llwyd were back on form and cruised through their doubles game 21-14, 21-15 against Chris Chee and Joshua Tang. Amay and Eshaan did not have it quite as easy but they fought hard to win their game in three sets 21-15, 15-21, 21-19! Faaris and Eli also had a close game but could not quite manage to get the better of Daniel Orr and Ross Glover narrowly losing out 20-22 and 16-21. It was clear to see that this was going to be a close match! In the girl’s doubles, despite losing their two previous games, Saffron and Anest had now found their rhythm and demonstrated some excellent doubles tactics, beating Paige Woods and Roisin McKenna 2-17, 21-17. Bhavana and Ishasriya fought bravely against Jasmine Buchanan and Zoe Kearon but narrowly missed out 19-21, 16-21 and finally Sian and Hannah had a nail biting first game against Amber Buchanan and Beth Scott, narrowly losing 20-22, but the Irish duo found their rhythm in the second game taking it 11-21. After the doubles the match score stood at Wales 3, Alpha 3!

The Welsh boys stepped confidently onto court for their singles games. Harper took on Chris Chee and cruised to a 16-21, 11-21 victory. Llwyd completed his undefeated singles record this weekend beating Joshua Tang 7-21, 7-21 and Amay was able to keep control of his game, eventually beating Jeffrey Rong 21-11, 21-18. In the girl’s singles, Saffron continued the winning streak, beating Paige Woods comfortably 21-14, 21-13. However, Anest and Ishasriya would find their games a little more difficult. Anest fought bravely against Roisin McKenna and really demonstrated how much her game has improved in 12 months but this time the match would go to Alpha 10-21, 8-21. It was a similar story for Ishasriya who demonstrated how much future potential she has but could not quite get the better of Jasmine Buchanan this time, losing out 15-21, 14-21. Just like the match against Lothian, Wales knew they needed just one more game to take the match. It would al be down to the mixed!

The first mixed game saw Eshaan and Sian take on Carrig Muldoon and Amber Buchanan. The Irish pair were too much for the Welsh pairing on this occasion, taking the game 11-21, 12-21. Faaris and Bhavana got a little closer against Daniel Orr and Zoe Kearon eventually losing 13-21, 15-21. And so, all eyes were on Eli and Hannah who took on Ross Glover and Beth Scott. The Irish pair took the first game 18-21 and with the crowds cheering loudly for both sides the second game could not have been closer. Both pairs battled point for point until finally if would be Alpha that would take the game 22-24 leaving the final match score Wales 7, Alpha 8! Unfortunately, this meant that Wales would finish 4 th based on a count back of the scores but they so narrowly missed out on second place!

It was so positive to see how this young Welsh team have improved over the last 12 months and how much potential they have for the future if they keep training. They all gave 100% throughout the competition, even when things got tough. They supported each other and behaved with maturity and professionalism at all times. This event has always been known for its ‘friendly yet competitive’ atmosphere and all the officials agreed that this was particularly evident this year with all teams demonstrating high levels of sportsmanship both on and off court. Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to all the parents who travelled to the event, thank you to Bryn Estyn Badminton Centre for providing such a quality venue and thank you to our referee Steve for overseeing the whole weekend!