Southend and District Badminton

Southend and District Badminton Association held its first tournament in over 18 months at the weekend at Chalkwell Badminton Centre. The event was set up to help players get back to match fitness and competitive play, with the hope of restarting the league in the next few months. Fourteen pairings entered in total with six pairs in the Ladies handicap doubles and eight in the Men’s handicap doubles.

The Ladies competition kicked off in the morning and saw all six pairings in one group playing one game to 21 points. The pair who won the most games in the group would win the tournament.

Farnaz Siddiq and Carly Horsler (-1) started well as they recorded a narrow 21-20 win over Lorene Roberts and Emilie Muggleton (Scr) but their chances of winning the group quickly faded with defeats against Jan Watt and Judy Slater (+2) and Mandie Breed and Vikki Walker (-3). They recorded one more win to finish on 2 games won and 96 points in total.

Watt and Slater had started poorly with a 21-5 defeat to Chloe Baker and Emily Hall (+6), and despite beating Siddiq and Horsler and then Dawn Muggleton and Liz Cullen (+2), they couldn’t notch another victory and also finished on 2 games won and 80 points.

Muggleton and Cullen finished the group last with no wins but were extremely unlucky as they lost three of their matches 21-19. One of those losses was to Roberts and Muggleton who also picked up a win in their final match of the tournament, but after three defeats to start then they finished on 2 games won and 91 points.

Chloe Baker, Emily Hall, Mandie Breed and Vikki Walker

That left two pairs fighting to win the tournament and they met in the final group game. Baker and Hall had used their handicap to great advantage winning comfortably in three games and then a close 21-18 victory over Siddiq and Horsler. Breed and Walker had shown real fight overcoming their -3 handicap to win three games 21-19 and one, 21-17.

However, this time the nine point gap to start was too much and Baker and Hall continued their dominance and in the end, won 21-7. An excellent victory for the youngest pairing and a deserved runner-up spot as well for Breed and Walker.

The men’s handicap doubles tournament was divided into two groups of four pairs. They each played the best of 3 games to 21 points with the two pairings with the most games won advancing through to a semi-final.

In Group A, Lee Scott and Matt Tonge (-20) managed to navigate their hefty handicap well and didn’t drop a game as they won in straight sets on each occasion. The closest they came to dropping a game was in their opening encounter against Isaac Pearson and Dhakshin Gopalakrishnan (+2), as they edged their young opponents 21-20.

Pearson and Gopalakrishnan were one of two junior pairings in the group alongside Aidan Liang and Oakley Beaven (+8). Their match against each other led to two very close games but Pearson and Gopalakrishnan were able to narrowly win both, 21-17 and 21-18. Liang and Beaven did manage to pick up a game in their other match against Andy McMahon and Nish Tanna (-4) but lost 21-14 in the third game to end their hopes of getting through the group.

That meant it would be a decider between Pearson and Gopalakrishnan and McMahon and Tanna. In the first game, experience won over youth as McMahon and Tanna won 21-17 but in the second they couldn’t overturn the handicap and lost 21-11. The final game was neck and neck throughout and in the end came down to the final point which Pearson and Gopalakrishnan got to win 21-20 and advance to the semi-finals as runners up.

Group B was also dominated by one pairing as Andy and Nathan Burrell (-2) won all six of their games. They were pushed all the way by John Hall and Paul Barber (-2) in both games though, winning them 21-20 each time.

Hall and Barber managed to pick up just one game though, which came against junior pairing Dillon Young and Rhapael da Silva (+4). They lost out 21-18, 20-21, 21-19 and lost their other match in straight games against Andrew Strutt and Callum Linge (-3).

This left the fight for second between Strutt and Linge and da Silva and Young who had met in the first match of the afternoon. The junior pairing won the opening game 21-13 but they were unable to keep up the momentum as they lost the second 21-16. The third game was close throughout and was tied up at 15 all but Strutt and Linge were able to win through 21-16 and reach the semi-finals.

Group A winners, Scott and Tonge, met the Group B runners-up, Strutt and Linge, in the first semi final. The latter were able to hold off their opponents for much of the opening game but in the end lost out 21-17. The second was more comfortable for Tonge and Scott as they quickly pulled back the handicap advantage and moved onto the final with a 21-13 victory.

The other semi-final saw the Group A runners-up, Pearson and Gopalakrishnan, keep their four point advantage throughout against the Group B winners, Burrell and Burrell, and they sealed the first 21-18. The young pairing were then able to hold their nerve and seal a more comfortable second game win of 21-11 to advance to the final.

Scott and Tonge went into the final as favourites having beaten Pearson and Gopalakrishnan in the group stage but they were yet again made to work hard for the first game as they won it 21-18. Pearson and Gopalakrishnan kept their advantage for longer in the second game and had game point but their opponents used their experience to work the score back to 20 all. Scott and Tonge then won the final point to claim victory in straight games and win the tournament. However, an excellent showing from two young talents in Pearson and Gopalakrishnan.

Mick Ferris

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