REDBRIDGE SPORTS CENTRE, ILFORD, ESSEX - 6th – 7th APRIL 2013
KRIS JASPER (LAUNCESTON), HESTER LUKE (PENZANCE), CHRISTIAN JASPER (LAUNCESTON), DAPHNE LUKE (PENZANCE), SAM SPENCER (PONSANOOTH), BETHANY WOTTON (LEEDSTOWN), ROSS LASHBROOK (LAUNCESTON), BRONWEN WOTTON (LEEDSTOWN)
The prestigious U21 Inter County Challenge (ICC) took place this weekend and saw 20 counties from the length and breadth of the country compete and perform some top quality badminton. The teams were split into 4 groups of 5. The group phase took place on Saturday and the play off stage on Sunday. Cornwall was unfortunately in a very strong group and anticipated some challenging matches ahead.
We started our campaign at 9.30am with a tough match against an experienced Worcestershire team. Launceston’s Kris Jasper won a superb opening singles match, but Worcester who went onto win the group proved too strong and took the 5–1 win.
Our next group match v the home side Essex saw Kris perform some fantastic badminton to overcome an impressive opponent and get the match off to another excellent start. Our doubles pairings of Ross Lashbrook & Sam Spencer, Bronwen Wotton & Daphne Luke all fought hard but found the opposition too tough, as did Hester Luke representing us in the Women’s Singles event. Going into the mixed we were 3-1 down. Our experienced pairing of Ross Lashbrook & Bronwen Wotton won a tough three ender with our second mixed pairing: Christian Jasper & Bethany Wotton losing after a brave fight, giving a final result of 4-2 in Essex’s favour.
Group match 3 v Lancashire, who were another impressive side, saw a disappointing 6 – 0 loss for our team. The score did not reflect the energy and effort of our players who as always gave everything they had. 4 of the matches could have gone our way, but the Lancashire team held their nerve and proved the better side on the day.
Our last match on the first day of the group stage was against Cambridgeshire, a team we lost to closely in last year’s ICC, and a match that held great promise of a win. Kris once again produced some magic to secure a fine straight set win in the men’s singles. Our men’s doubles pairing of Ross & Sam made short shrift of their opponents with a spirited performance taking the match to a cliff hanging 2 - 2 going into the mixed doubles. Bronwen & Ross proved too strong and won comfortably. After much nail biting Kris Jasper & Bethany overcame their opponents in a marathon 3 ender, which clinched the match 6-4. This placed us in 4th position in our group going into the playoff stage of the competition to be held on the second day.
Our first match on Sunday was against Derbyshire and the fixture started well with Kris and Hester both winning tough 3 enders, which gave us a 2 -0 lead after the singles. Ross and Bronwen again showed their experience with another impressive mixed victory. Unfortunately, we lost 2 very close 3 enders in the men’s doubles and 2nd mixed doubles and with our women’s doubles also losing we were left with a tied 3-3 match. With both sides also level in ends it came down to points: three points that were in Derbyshire’s favour, therefore they took the win. This was the closest match of the whole event! So close and such a shame it didn’t go our way and was a strong reminder that every point counts!
This left us playing off for 15th or 16th position in our final match of the competition against Surrey. Our players quickly shook off the disappointment of losing the last match so closely and went about their task of securing a win with great conviction. Hester, full of confidence following her earlier win played a tough opponent and was able to prove her mental strength and skill by winning in 2 very close ends. Kris took his match with another superb display of great racket skills and dynamic movement, giving him a total of 6 wins out of 7 matches, and made him our best performer of the weekend! Both our doubles pairings: Ross & Sam and Bronwen & Daphne were able to close out tough 3 enders with gritty performances. Bronwen & Ross took their 4th mixed win out of 6 matches with ease. Christian and Beth were unlucky in the final match going down closely in 3 ends. The final score was an excellent 5 – 1 win, which confirmed our overall position of 15th. This is our highest ICC placing and a great platform to build on in the years ahead.