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 Highland Badminton Champion 

Prizewinners at the HBG U15 Championships

Orkney junior badminton player, 13 year old Tommy Ballantine competed in U15’s Highland Badminton Championships which took place last Saturday in Fortrose with players from Buckie, Morayshire, Caithness, Gairloch and the  Inverness area all competing in the Singles, doubles and mixed competitions. Play started early in the morning with the singles.

Players were in groups of 4 or 5, with each player playing each other. Tommy won his first game 21-0. Tommy then played the number 2 seed from Morayshire. This game consisted of long rallies, but Tommy’s ability to cover the court with good consistency and shot placement, seen him win 21-12. Tommy then played a player from Wick and won 21-8, meaning he topped the group and qualified for the Quarter finals. Quarters – Tommy played another Morayshire player winning 21-8 to set up a semi-final place verses the third seed from Inverness. Tommy dominated this match winning 21-12 to reach the final. Tommy knew he was in for an extremely hard and daunting task in the final, as he would be facing Ian Campbell currently the top ranked player for Scotland in his age group. Ian powered to win the first set 21-8. Tommy then changed tactics and started read where Ian was smashing and dropping his shots by returning his powerful smashes to the net and keeping him deep in the court with his serves and lifts. Tommy winning a tight second set 21-18. Ian took a 10-5 lead in the second set and looked to be heading to retain his title, but Tommy had other ideas and wasn’t going to give up, with great determination and great court coverage, he started to pick away at the lead. All things were square at 15-15, with both players playing great singles by moving their opponent all over the court and both returning shots the spectators thought were winners; the next few points were equal, until Tommy gained a slight advantage to get match point at 20-18. Ian played an extremely tight drop that hit the top of the net and fell on Tommy’s side to win the point. Ian served at 19-20. Tommy played out the last rally well and played a lovely tight net shot that Ian failed to get back, resulting in Tommy taking the third set and title of U15’s Singles champion.

Tommy then teamed up with Ian in the doubles. They won all their group matches comfortably only dropping 12 points in total in the three games. They won their semi-final 21-6 to set up a final place against two players from Morayshire. The final was fast and furious with both pairings playing well; Tommy and Ian attacked the better and won the first set 21-9, the second set was very close up and was even at 15-15, but a change in tactics from Tommy and Ian allowed them a run of points to claim the doubles title 21-15.

Tommy with his trophies

The Mixed Tommy teamed up with Nicole from Wick. They won two and lost one of their group matches which were enough to qualify them for the Quarter finals. They played well in the quarter beating a pairing from Caithness 21-13, setting up a semi-final against the first seeds which was Tommy’s doubles partner and the girls singles winner. Tommy and Nicole were not fazed by facing the top seeds and went on to beat them in a very close match 21-19. In the Final Tommy and Nicole were facing the second seeds and also the pairing that had beaten them in the group match earlier, so both knew this was going to be tough. The final saw long rallies with all players showing nice touches, but the Morayshire pair were just a little too strong and won 21-12, 21-12, to give Tommy and Nicole the runners up trophy. This has been very successful day for Tommy winning the Singles, doubles and runner up in the mixed.

U18’s Highland Competition was held on Saturday 5th November in Fortrose, which saw three girls from Orkney competing. They were Molly Cant, Freya Stevenson and Neve Hall. This was a Scottish ranking tournament and saw some players from the central belt come up to compete for ranking points.

In the singles – Neve had a tough group with the first seed and two other strong players. Neve did well to take 10 points off the number one seed, losing 21-10. Neve played well in her other two games but lost 21-13, 21-12 to tough opponents.

Molly also had a really tough group but played her best badminton against a girl from Edinburgh, Molly showed good strength and speed, just losing out in the last few points 21-17. Molly lost her other games 21-11 to the second seed from Morayshire & 21-14 Chloe from Shetland. Freya singles group was again a tough group with the third seed. Freya did well to get 15 points against this strong opponent. Freya narrowly lost 20-21 to a girl from Gairloch in a game that could have gone either way, but Freya did beat a Moray player 21-14. This meant that all the girls were in the consolation singles knockout. The quarters unfortunately saw Molly and Freya up against each other, with Freya taking the honours 219. Neve played left handed Nadia from Gairloch, but lost 21-10. Freya then played Morven from Caithness, these girls have played many times against each other over the years with matches being tight either way. Freya was to play her best singles of the day winning 21-15. This set up a final between Orkney and Shetland, and last year’s intercounty 1st girls singles match. The match was extremely close with both players having good speels throughout the match. Agonisingly Freya just lost this 23-21, but both players should be happy with their performance in a thoroughly entertaining game.    

Girl’s doubles – Neve teamed up with Chloe from Shetland. They lost to the first seed 21-9 and then lost 21-16 to a strong pairing. Molly and Freya played well in their group matches, narrowly losing to the second seeds 19-21, but then won their last match 21-16 against a Moray pairing. This meant that Molly and Freya progressed to the Semi-finals where they faced the top seeds. They found this match tough losing 21-6, 21-4. Having lost the semi Molly and Freya then played for 3rd and 4th place. This match was very close with long rallies throughout. Unfortunately they just lost 21-14, 21-12 to come in a very respectable 4th place in a ranking competition.   . Neve and Chloe were in the consolation final against a Moray pairing and they beat them 21-16 to win the consolation doubles.

Mixed doubles. Freya teamed up with Paul from Caithness and Molly played with Kingsley from Shetland. Freya and Paul came second in their group, winning one 21-16 against Molly and Kingsley and losing 21-11 to the top seeds, to proceed to the mixed quarters. Freya and Paul lost 21-11, 21-5 to Luca & Chloe from Shetland. Molly and Kingsley played a round robin in the consolation finals, winning one match 24-22 and just losing out on the second 20-22 in two very close matches.

 Tommy, Molly, Freya and Neve would like to say a huge thank you to Northlink Ferries for their Sponsorship in helping with travel costs for these competitions. They would also like to thank the Highland Badminton Group for hosting these competitions. All the kids have gained great experience by travelling away to these competitions playing different opponents and also made some new friends.


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