Monday 14 December 2015

Cornwall Badminton 1st team – a hard day’s play

Cornwall’s top badminton players once again made the long trip to Cheltenham for the second weekend of the season, this time to take on table-topping Oxfordshire and the team from Jersey.
Left to right - Richard Townsend, Tyler Sillifant, Liam Sillifant, Amy Polglase, James Whetter, Vicki Thomas, Guy Michell, Bronwen Wotton, Ross Lashbrook, Jo Philp
Going into the first match versus Jersey, the opening men’s singles saw the Sillifant brothers, Liam and Tyler, and the experienced James Whetter, take on their opponents. Tyler was up against ex England international Mark Constable, who stunned the crowd with his skilful delayed shots and accuracy, and ran out a comfortable winner. Liam too, playing the strong second Jersey singles man, also found it difficult and lost in two ends, whereas James won his singles in two relatively easy ends to give Cornwall’s first success. In the women’s singles, Amy Polglase fought hard to take her game to 3 ends, and just ran out of steam in the final game, followed by Vicki Thomas losing in 2 to a quick, youthful opponent.
Being 4-1 down after the singles gave a mountain to climb for the Cornish team, and the men’s doubles followed, pitching Jersey’s Mark Constable and partner against Ross Lashbrook and Richard Townsend, seemingly with little hope against this top player. Ross and Richard had other ideas and stunned the Jersey men by taking the first end, before narrowly losing in the third – a very creditable performance. James and Guy Michell took on the next pair, with Jersey only needing 1 victory to win the match, but they were thwarted by James and Guy who used all their skills and power to win the game in 3 thrilling ends.
Cornwall’s women then did the county proud, by both winning their games – Bronwen Wotton and Jo Philp looking particularly strong, while Amy and Vicki after narrowly losing the first end came storming back to win the next two, to make the match 5-4 to Jersey going into the final two games of mixed.
Top Cornish pair Ross and Bronwen comfortably won their game as predicted to put the match on a knife edge at 5-5, with all the pressure on Guy and Jo in the last game, and everyone watching on the edge of their seats. The first end went to Jersey, but Guy and Jo battled hard to just take the second, leaving the decider to come. This was another thriller, seesawing both ways before Jersey sealed it at 21-19 and took the match overall 6-5.
After that fighting performance, the tiring Cornwall team faced top of the table Oxfordshire, and this proved a match too far. The men’s singles all went Oxfordshire’s way, but the Cornish girls dug deep, and Jo had an excellent victory in her singles, while Amy fell agonisingly short in the third, losing unluckily 22-20.
This time there was no stirring comeback against some very tough opponents – the doubles were all won by Oxfordshire, despite James and Guy coming very close in just losing an end 30-28, and Amy and Vicki taking their game all the way, before finally losing out. The victory was emphatically sealed in the mixed as both Cornish pairs lost out, to give the final match score 10-1 to Oxfordshire.
Although the scores went against them, this young team can be very proud of the first game’s result and in battling hard with a great team spirit throughout the day, and look forward to the final weekend in January.

1st team – Tyler Sillifant, Liam Sillifant, James Whetter, Ross Lashbrook, Guy Michell, Richard Townsend, Amy Polglase, Jo Philp, Bronwen Wotton, Vicki Thomas, (missing through illness Milo Semonin)

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Junior Badminton

The Cornwall County U13 Badminton Squad began their 2015/16 season with a flourish convincingly defeating Avon in a South West County match 22 points to 14 and 12 to 8 in the concurrent Shires League. On a murky wet afternoon  the Cornish team were given a warm welcome at Gordano school in Portishead by Stuart McCrimmond, the Avon team manager.

Games started with six  mixed doubles and the Cornish team got off to a flyer with a 5:1 lead. Ashay and Beckie had stiff opposition from Om Reddy and Skye McCrimmond and despite losing fought hard to the end.  This was followed by some tough opposition for our boys with the standard of play from their number one and two exceptional.  Despite such stiff opposition from experienced tournament players, Sam Phelps, Josh Cox and Regan Hull (playing in his County debut)  took their defeats with dignity and calm and were a credit to the conduct of the team . Ashay Divekar was beaten narrowly against their number three and it was left to Jason Ayliffe to play a blinder securing a three end victory, 21/17, 16/21 and 21/14 at number four. This was followed by victory for Sam Perkins playing number six 21/14 and 21/18. The three debutants (Regan, Jason and Sam) thus served the County well.  At this point we were narrowly ahead 7:5 when the girls stepped up to the plate. They comprehensively trounced their counterparts and although our number six and new debutant Poppy Brunsden lost it was by a narrow margin 21:18 and 21:13 giving her valuable tournament experience.

We were 12: 6 up at this stage and their strong boy’s team sought to exact revenge. They were victorious in most of the games but Sam Phelps partnering Josh Cox and Jason Ayliffe  with Ashay Divekar won one rubber each to maintain our narrow lead 14:13. It was up to the girls to secure victory. The nerves subsided and the match was never in doubt! Our tournament hardened number one pair (Cara Collins and Charlotte Freer) and number two (Beckie Bailey and Nila Kandasamy)  tore into their opposition alongside the new partnership of Gemma Stevens  and Poppy Brunsden. They won 9 of their 10 matches. The final tally of 22:14 was a true team effort and a reflection of the excellent coaching and support from Nigel Collins and Rob Freer. The result was also a reflection of the tremendous support from all the parents that travelled the distance and the help of Paul Stevens who officiated with style.

The matches also counted towards the Shires tournament with a 12:8 victory. All in all an excellent day. Team manager Nigel Bailey was delighted and said ‘The team clearly deserved their victory and demonstrate how, despite our geography, we can compete on a level playing field with national opposition’. Stuart McCrimmond commented ‘ We are a competitive group but were outplayed by a strong committed Cornish team –  we enjoy playing Cornwall but hope the result is different in the return match’. It was great to see the players revelling in their success at the McDonalds restaurant at the Taunton Deane Service  Station on the way home where the Team Managers player of the day went to Gemma Stevens and the Players award shared between Cara Collins and Poppy Brunsden. Well done all.