Harris Trophy competition returns

Report by Andrew Strutt

Southend & District Badminton Association held its first competitive tournament for 953 days with the return of the Harris Trophy competition.

There were a total of 20 entries with 13 pairings in the Men’s and 7 pairings in the Ladies. It was a handicap tournament and took place at the Seaglass Centre at Thorpe Hall School.

The men’s doubles was divided into three groups; one group of five and two groups of four. All matches were best of three games and Group B contained the five pairings. Russell Dobson and Andrew Strutt (-3) dominated in the group, winning all four matches without dropping a game to finish top.

Alex Cheung and Jay Clarke (-8) picked up two straight game wins and were pushed to three by Matt Tonge and David Clark (-8) before eventually triumphing to win 6 games in total and finish as runners-up. Tonge and Clark added to their game against Cheung and Clarke with a straight games win and three game victory of their own against Ian Breed and John Marshall (+4) to claim third in the group as they won five games.

Breed and Marshall finished bottom of the group on one game as they lost in straight games against Andrew Millham and Dave Palmer (+7) who finished fourth.

In Group A, Lee Scott and Matt Ross (-38) made light work of their hefty handicap as they topped the group with 3 straight game victories. Alan Gibbens and Zameer Panjwani (-10) managed to pick up two straight game wins meaning they finished as runners-up. The closest match of the day came between Michael Clark and Kenny Wong (-18) and Colin Campbell and Andy McMahon (-1). It went the distance of 3 games with every one finishing 21-20 and in the end, Clark and Wong edged out Campbell and McMahon meaning they finished in third.

Ben Bradford and Greg Roffey (-9) took charge in Group C and won all three matches without dropping a game to finish in first spot. The battle for second was a lot tighter as Andy and Nathan Burrell (-3) and Jon and Oakley Beaven (+7) both beat Glen Bentley and Joe Aguinaldo (+2) to sit on two games. The match between the Burrell’s and the Beaven’s went to three games and eventually the Burrell’s won 21-19 meaning they finished in second and the Beaven’s in third.

Due to time restraints, the quarter finals, semi-finals and final would all be just one game to 21 points. In the first quarter final the winners of Group A, Scott and Ross, played third in Group B, Tonge and Clark. Despite getting off to a slow start, Scott and Ross were able to wear down the handicap gap and eventually triumphed a fairly comfortable 21-12. The second quarter final pitted Bradford and Roffey, winners of Group C, against Cheung and Clark. This proved to be the most one-sided match at this stage as Bradford and Roffey eased past their opponents 21-8.

The third quarter final between the Burrell’s, runners-up in Group C, and Gibbens and Panjwani, runners-up in group A, turned out to be the closest match up at this stage. In the end, Gibbens and Panjwani narrowly won through 21-18 to progress. The final quarter was between Group B winners, Dobson and Strutt, and third in Group C, the Beaven’s. After quickly pulling back the ten point deficit, Dobson and Strutt were able to stay on top and win 21-14.

Three of the four semi-finalist pairings were yet to taste defeat in the competition and two of them would meet in the first semi-final as Bradford and Roffey faced up against Scott and Ross. This proved to be an incredibly tight contest with some excellent rallies and Bradford and Roffey reached match point first at 20-19. However, they served short and were then beaten by a delicate dropshot from Ross at 20 all as Scott and Ross moved onto the final.

The second semi-final saw the other unbeaten pairing of Dobson and Strutt face Gibbens and Panjwani. Despite starting 7 points down, Gibbens and Panjwani quickly fought back to get on level terms. However, they couldn’t maintain their level and Dobson and Strutt managed to kick on and eventually won 21-12 to make their way into the final.

Both pairings in the final had moved through the competition unbeaten but something had to give now. Dobson and Strutt had a large handicap advantage over their opponents but Scott and Ross soon built up the momentum to massively narrow the gap. Despite briefly extending the gap, Dobson and Strutt couldn’t halt Scott and Ross and once they got themselves in front they didn’t look back. The final score finished 21-14 as Scott and Ross triumphed to lift the Harris Trophy.

The seven pairings of the ladies double competition were divided into a group of three, Group A, and a group of 4, Group B. As in the men’s doubles, matches were best of three games. Farnaz Siddiq and Carly Horsler (-1) moved through Group A with ease as they won both matches in straight games to finish top. The battle for second was between Sarah Hall and Keeley Evans (-3) and Clare Burrell and Debbie Zekai (+8). Their first game proved a close one as Hall and Evans won it 21-20 but guaranteed second spot as they won the second 21-13.

Group B was dominated by Chloe Baker and Emily Hall (-3) as they triumphed in all three of their matches without dropping a game to secure first in the group. They were pushed closest by Jan Watt and Judy Slater (+2), and they managed to secure runners-up spot in the group after winning their other two matches in straight games. Mandie Breed and Vikki Walker (-5) beat Kiv Gray and Sara Thompson (+1) 21-19, 21-18 to seal third place.

The winners of Group A, Siddiq and Horsler, met the runners-up of Group B, Watt and Slater, in the semi-finals. With just one game to 21 points, Siddiq and Horsler soon overturned the handicap deficit and proved too strong for their opponents as they won 21-15.

Baker and Hall, winners of Group B, faced Hall and Evans, runners-up in Group A, in the other semi-final. This started as a scratch match and Baker and Hall were always in charge as they kept up their unbeaten competition with a 21-13 victory.

Like the men’s final, both pairings had yet to taste defeat in the competition and in a best of three match it was expected to be a closely fought contest. That definitely was the case in the opening game as Siddiq and Horsler maintained their handicap advantage to win 21-16. They then controlled the second, not allowing Baker and Hall back into it, and triumphed 21-13 to seal the victory and to be crowned champions.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk