Junior Quadrangular 2017

Posted by Carissa Turner at 01:05 on 2 May 2017

While the European Championships were going ahead in Denmark the top junior players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were travelling to Dublin to compete in the Junior Quadrangular. This prestigious, junior event sees the top ten players from the four nations compete against each other in a team event and this is followed by an individual tournament. The whole event spans three days and is always a display of top class junior badminton. The players selected to represent Wales this year were

 

Adil Khan                                                          Jessica Ding

Daniel Kite                                                        Jasmine Owen

Archie Bult                                                        Freya Cottrill

Thomas Morgan                                                Carys Jones

Michael Pritchard                                              Saffron Morris

 

With the majority of our team being a few years under the age category (Saffron being only 9) we always knew this was going to be a really tough event and that taking on teams comprising of mainly 14 and 15 year olds was going to be a mammoth task, but, as always, our players were not going to be disheartened and left Birmingham airport on Thursday afternoon in good spirits. On arriving in Dublin we were taken to the Baldoyle Badminton Centre where the teams were able to get on court, do a spot of training and acclimatise to the hall.

 

The Team event

 

An early start on Friday morning meant the Welsh team were first to arrive at the hall where they got straight into the warm up preparations for the team event. The significance of the event was marked with an opening ceremony where the teams paraded around the hall and excitement levels were raised as each player was announced individually. After the home nation had presented all the players with pins and wished everyone good luck the event was ready to start.

 

Wales were to face Scotland first and having watched the Scots warming up it was clear that they were going to be a formidable opposition. The first games on were the boys doubles. Adil and Daniel took on Calum Flockhart and Michael Maguire, while Archie and Tom took on Kenneth Cheung and Jamie Gunn. The Scottish boys displayed an irrepressible combination of strength, speed and tactical awareness which proved difficult for our less experienced pairings. It was a similar story in the girls doubles where Freya and Jasmine took on Alice Campbell and Erin Waddell, and Jess and Carys (making their debut for Wales) took on Jodie Harris and Eilidh Mccallister. All four Welsh pairings gave 100% and despite some heavy losses they were all left with a drive to want to continue to improve their doubles now knowing what they had to aim for.

 

Michael and Saffron were able to produce the closest game of this match against the Scottish mixed pairing of Calum Flockhart and Jodie Black. Michael demonstrated his good touch and control while Saffron was as feisty as ever on the net. The final score was 20-22, 18-21 to Scotland and although the Welsh pair were frustrated, they were able to see that they have the ability to compete well at this level.

 

Michael was able to continue his form in the boy’s singles and did not make life easy for Callum Smith finishing with a very respectable score of 16-21, 17-21. Having watched all the games so far, Adil stepped on court with the attitude that he was going to make the most of every rally, which he did, playing a mature game and finishing with a score of 16-21, 12-21. In the girls singles the Welsh girls found their Scottish opponents just too strong on this occasion. Jasmine took on Erin Waddell, while Saffron took on Jodie Harris and although both gave it their all the games would end up going Scotland’s way leaving the final score at Scotland 9, Wales 0.

 

talk

 

After a break and a reassuring team talk from head coach Nic Strange the Welsh team were still looking positive despite their loss. Next up, Wales were to face England and the Welsh team knew that this was going to be equally as difficult, if not harder than the Scottish game. England had a mature, experienced team who had competed in many top European tournaments. The boys doubles started the match again. Daniel and Adil took on Neil Bhabuta and Alex Green. The Welsh boys found it difficult to get much past the powerful English boys but did manage to produce some tactically sound rallies and ended with a score of 7-21, 9-21. Archie and Tom took on William Atkin and Joseph Ball and in similar style to Daniel and Adil were faced with some thunderous attacking play ending the game 11-21, 9-21.

 

In the girls doubles Saffron and Jasmine played Eleanor Butler and Lisa Curtin and despite their best efforts the Welsh girls suffered a 7-21, 7-21 loss. It was a similar story for Carys and Jess who took on Estelle Van Leeuwen and Holly Williams. The English pair certainly took no prisoners in this game ending it 3-21, 8-21.

 

After their earlier success in the mixed, Michael and Saffron would find it a bit harder against the English pairing of Alex Green and Estelle Van Leeuwen and Michael certainly had his work cut out against England’s top singles player Neil Bhabuta. Michael gave his all but there was little he could do to contend with the movement, power and accuracy of Bhabuta. In this match, Daniel got his opportunity to play second boys singles which he did in his usual calm and controlled manner. He faced Cholan Kayan and despite a loss Daniel was able to identify the things he did well and what he now needs to do to improve for next time. Jasmine made the most of her opportunity to play against England’s number one girl Gauri Shidhaye but was unable to outclass her English opponent this time. Freya was quite nervous going on for her singles against Holly Williams and was unable to get the better of the English girl’s accuracy and consistency. With the final score at England 9, Wales 0 the young Welsh team had suffered another punishing loss but with the attitude that this was all experience for the future, the players were able to remain positive and were excited about the final match of the day against Ireland.

 

Having watched the other matches going on around us, it was clear that Ireland was not really going to be any easier but the Welsh team were ready for battle. Once again our opposition showed that their experience on the doubles court would certainly be one of their strengths in comparison to the Welsh team. Adil and Daniel did not give up in their game against Sean Patrick Lauretta and Daniel O’Meara and Tom and Archie fought equally as hard in their game against Evan Byrne and Peter Mcdonald. Both Welsh pairs agreed they have learned the importance of hitting and moving into the right space instead of hitting and waiting to respond – a valuable lesson and one which they are all prepared to work hard on. The girls were able to produce higher scores in their doubles against Ireland. Freya and Jasmine took on Kerry Fallon and Kim Feehily and with some clever serving from Jasmine and some nice touch shots from Freya, the pair ended the game 12-21, 9-21. Carys and Jess played Orla Flynn and Megan Mcgloughlin and showed improvements in their attacking play through their game which ended 7-21, 12-21.

 

Michael and Saffron were able to pull off another respectable score in their mixed against Peter Mcdonald and Kim Feehily. Perhaps, with a few less unforced errors, the game could have been even closer. It ended 13-21, 16-21. After a short rest, Michael was ready to get stuck in to his singles. He played against Michael Staunton and with plenty of support from his Welsh team mates and the Welsh contingent in the crowd, Michael won his first game comfortably 21-10. Finally, some success for Wales and a big lift in confidence for Michael! Staunton fought back hard in the second game but there was no way Michael was letting this one go. He dug deep and ended up winning the second game 21-16! Wales’ first win!

 

 

Meanwhile, Archie was playing his first game of singles against Sean Patrick Lauretta. Archie made a cautious start against his Irish opponent but decided he was not going to give up in the second game. Archie pulled out some of the best rallies of his life in the second game and managed to stay with Lauretta right through to the end. The game went to Lauretta in the end 12-21, 18-21 but Archie left the court feeling really positive about how he had performed. In the girls singles Jasmine and Saffron were unable to emulate the boy’s performances. Jasmine took on Alexandra Troy, while Saffron played Orla Flynn and with both games going to Ireland the final score ended at Ireland 8, Wales 1.

 

This brought the team event to a close and after a long day’s play, first place went to England, second to Scotland, third to Ireland and fourth to Wales. The Welsh team now had a very good idea of what they were up against for the individual event. They did not seem disheartened. They all knew that this would be a big learning opportunity and with this in mind they went back to the hotel to get rested.

 

dan&j

 

Individual event


On the Saturday morning, the individual event was kicked off by the singles. Tom was first on court for Wales against Scotland’s Jamie Gunn. Tom pulled off a brave performance but it would be Gunn who would take the game this time. Feeling positive after the way he played yesterday, Archie stepped on court against Ireland’s Daniel O’Meara. On this occasion, Archie was unable to emulate his previous game and despite his best efforts O’Meara took the game. In the girls singles, Carys took on Scotland’s Jodie Black. Black’s experience proved too much for Carys this time but with this being her first international tournament Carys should be proud of what she has achieved so far. Similarly for Jess, her first experience of an international event would show her how high the standard is and what she should be aiming for. She took on England’s Estelle Van Leeuwen who proved to be too strong for the young Welsh player on this occasion.

 

Daniel took on Ireland’s Peter Mcdonald and showed he was not going to be put off by the clear differences in stature. Daniel produced a gutsy performance and despite a loss he certainly made the most of his opportunity. After yesterday’s success in the team event, all Welsh eyes were on Michael in the boys singles. He played Scotland’s Callum Smith. Smith took the first game 19-21 after a long-fought battle from both players. Michael was able to dig deep in the second and responded with a 21-18 win, taking the game to three sets. In the third, Smith demonstrated a high level of fitness and despite Michael’s best efforts the game went to the Scottish player 14-21. Jasmine took on England’s Eleanor Butler, while Freya played against Scotland’s Alice Campbell. Both girls gave 100% but showed they need more experience at this level. Adil also gave it his all against a towering Joseph Ball (England). The young Welsh player tried a variety of strategies but found it difficult to get anything past the large reach of Ball. The last hope for Wales in the singles was down to 9-year-old Saffron who stepped on court against Ireland’s Megan Mcloughlin. The two girls battled point for point in the first game which ended up going to the Irish girl 19-21. This would now be a test of mental strength for our very young Welsh player. Saffron was able to focus all her energies and play a game well beyond her years in the second set which she took 21-10. With the Irish player looking deflated, this was Saffron’s opportunity. In the third set Saffron continued to dig deep and pulled off some technically mature rallies but Mcloughlin was able to regain her focus and took the third set 12-21.



 j&a

 

In the afternoon, the mixed individual event began. Archie and Jess were first on court for Wales and despite the pair having never played together before they were able to produce some good rallies against England’s Atkin and Shidhaye, particularly in the second game. It was a similar story for Tom and Carys who had also never played together before. They pulled off an excellent first game against Ireland’s Byrne and Mcloughlin (15-21) but the Irish pair were able to step up a gear in the second game. Adil and Saffron produced a confident performance in their first game against Ireland’s Laureta and Feehily (13-21), despite the clear age difference. However, as Tom and Carys had learned, the Irish pair were able to find another gear as they stormed away with the second game. Michael and Freya took on Ireland’s Mcdonald and Fallon but found the pair too strong on this occasion. Jasmine and Daniel made a confident start against Scotland’s Gunn and Black, just losing out in the first set 17-21 but they would pay the price in the second game as they came under fire from Gunn’s big smash. This marked the end of play for Wales on the Saturday and so they went back to the hotel to relax and enjoy the presentation evening.

 

The doubles individual event started on the Sunday morning. Archie had been partnered with Scotland’s Jamie Gunn and their first game was against Ireland’s Mcdonald and Staunton. A nervous start for Archie saw the Irish pair take the first game 13-21 but after some input from both Welsh and Scottish coaches, both boys looked up for the second game. They certainly stepped it up a gear but they narrowly missed out in the second set 19-21. Freya and Carys had decided that they were going to enjoy and make the most of their doubles, which they did and despite losing to the Irish/English combo of Mcloughlin and Shidhaye, both girls were pleased with their efforts and are now looking forward to the future. Jess had been partnered with Scotland’s Jodie Black. Like Archie, Jess was nervous being paired with someone she did not know but tried hard to make the most of playing with an experienced player. The girls had some good long rallies against Scotland’s Harris and McCallister but the game went Scotland’s way in the end 15-21, 16-21.

 

Adil and Daniel knew that their opponents – England’s Bhabuta and Green were going to be one of the toughest pairs they had ever played. The Welsh boys displayed a valiant effort against the top English pair but were unable to get much past such a dominant duo. Saffron and Jasmine took on Scotland’s Harris and McCallister. The girls put up a good fight and on many occasions, produced some good quality rallies, but in the end, age and experience prevailed as the Scottish pair won 15-21, 15-21. Michael and Tom were the final Welsh pair to take to the court. They played against Ireland’s Mcdonald and Staunton and demonstrated a good attacking style in the first game narrowly missing out 19-21. After such a positive start, both boys looked up for the second game and supported each other well on court but the Irish pair were ready for whatever the Welsh boys had to throw at them and beat the Welsh boys 16-21 in the second set putting an end to the Welsh campaign in this year’s Quadrangular.

 

The weekend had been long and had taken its’ toll, both physically and mentally. Although the Welsh team did not get the results they wanted they should take some comfort in knowing that they were by far the youngest team there and many of our players will get to play this event again over the next few years. They have gained a great deal of experience at this event and have brought home many valuable lessons which now need to be implemented in their training. As always, the players were a credit to Badminton Wales and to themselves and they should be extremely proud of how they played and how they conducted themselves under such a pressured environment and high standard of play! Well done to all the players and coaches who travelled to Dublin. It is going to be a long journey ahead but also an exciting one and one which we are certainly capable of making if we all continue to show the level of passion, dedication and teamwork that we showed this weekend!

 

A full list of results can be found here.