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U16 Wimbledon Team Invitation
6th - 7th May 2006

Wimbledon and racket sports go hand-in-hand, but pass Mr Federer a shuttlecock and chances are he won’t know what to do with it. The money may not be the same in badminton, but the passion for the game is certainly the same, as Lancashire showed in their brilliant performance at the Wimbledon Racquets & Fitness Club’s U16 Badminton Team Invitation event. Even against the likes of the Netherlands, Ireland and our old enemy, Yorkshire, the team - especially the boys - competed well and ended up taking a final placing of 5th (and it could easily have been 3rd).

The tournament was played over the weekend of 6-7 May and saw Lancashire turn out a handy team of Michael Mellor, Ross Little, Gary Fox, Steph James, Emily Miller, Holly Richards and Steph Hall. The format was a short format, with one event in each discipline, played to the best of three.

The first round saw the 12 teams split into 4 groups of 3, with Lancashire drawing Ireland and Hampshire. The match against Ireland set the tone for the two days, as the boys doubles went to Lancs, Ross & Gary winning comfortably, 15-2, 15-3, then the girls doubles going to the opposition, Steph Hall & Holly losing 9-15, 5-15. Michael then won the boys singles to 2 & 11, before Steph James went down in a tough match 4 & 1. The result went to the last event, with Gary & Emily battling out an epic mixed. Emily was very nervous, having not played with Gary before and keen to secure the win, but the pair came through in style, setting twice for 17-14, 17-14 and a 3-2 match win.

We juggled the pairs for the second match and it proved to be our undoing, as Hampshire snuck a very tight match 3-2. Gary & Holly never quite gelled, just losing out in the mixed 14-17, 12-15. Ross beat Ben Tier in 3, whilst Steph James got the short straw against a very impressive Panuga Riou, losing 0 & 0. Michael & Gary had a very impressive win against the two Marks (Cappleman & Newbury) leaving Steph Hall & Emily to battle it out with the match at 2-2. They won a very good second game, but could not take the upper hand in the match, going down 10-15, 17-14, 8-15.

The team thus went into the group playing for 5th to 8th place, with Sussex, Notts and Kent in the same group. The pattern, of the boys winning some brilliant matches and the girls finding the very high standard of the event a real challenge, prevailed. Michael won his singles to 7 & 13, then Gary & Ross made short change of their opponents in the levels, winning 4 & 6. With the girls singles and levels getting away, it fell to Gary & Emily in the last match to go for the result, which they managed again, winning in two, 8 & 12. A 3-2 match win.

Notts looked tough on paper, but again the boys produced the goods, with Michael taking the singles 9 & 13, and Ross & Gary winning the doubles 7 & 13. Steph James got the tough game once again and, though starting well against Jess Tandy, could not match the precision and footwork, losing to 3 & 3. Steph Hall & Holly then showed some real fight as they lost a really good levels against Jess Tandy & Kate Fenton, losing a long battle 15-13, 5-15, 9-15. So to Gary & Emily who, with their growing understanding as a pair, managed a good win under pressure, 15-13, 10-15, 15-10, providing Lancs with another 3-2 win.

The final match against Kent was going to be another close affair. Ross got into a tough match with Jonny Gatusch, before managing to get his focus and a comfortable last game, winning 15-10, 12-15, 15-4. Steph James showed that she has what it takes in singles, playing her best game though going down 7 & 3. Steph knows that once a week coaching would put her right up the singles scale, but she is a dedicated runner and it is difficult to give enough to both sports. Ross & Michael played well in the levels, winning 11 & 9, and Steph Hall & Holly showed much improvement from the day before, going down 13 & 5. Once more the last event fell to Gary & Emily in the deciding mixed and they showed how good they are in a pressure situation, coming through 15-13, 15-11 and sealing a fourth 3-2 match win out of 5.

Well done to the team on a terrific 5th place out of 12. The boys were awesome and the girls showed their fighting spirit in the latter stages of the event, as their performances improved visibly. Thank you to the spectators for your support … and I must remember to take my ear-plugs next time I spend ten hours driving a car load of teenage girls to London and back! They managed to get the mobile number and exchange messages with two boys in a passing car on the M6 on the way home … but that is another story!!

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U16 Team - names in order of centre picture
Back: Gary Fox, Michael Mellor, Ross Little
Front: Emily Miller, Steph James, Holly Richards, Steph Hall 

Footnote:

It would be great if Lancashire could pull the standard of the girls closer to that of the boys on court - what we need is the girls getting regular, quality coaching from now on, and for each to play high grade, competitive matches. But we also need the next tier of girls to challenge them, so that no places in Lancashire teams are achieved without hard work and good play. The lack of high standard girls is not just an issue at the older age groups - it is happening at all ages in the county at present. We risk being left out in the cold for some time to come unless we can manage to buck the trend and soon.

Dave Miller

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U14 Yorkshire Team Tournament
7th May 2006

Philip Aspinall Becky Hurst
Kristian Byrne Lizzie Balmforth
Michael Johnston Sarah Kenny
Tom Wolfenden Danya Lewis
Robbie McDonald Abigail Kay
John-Gareth Phillips Nikkita Cowburn

The Yorkshire U14 Team Tournament consisted of eight counties, split into two groups of four for the first round.  Lancashire were drawn with Leicestershire, Yorkshire 2 and Lothian.  The first match was against Leicestershire.  Philip started the ball rolling winning his singles against Peter Briggs.  Danya came very close to taking the girls singles, but, after a slow start, could not quite secure the game, losing 21-16.  Becky & Lizzie and Abigail & Sarah won both girls doubles with ease.  In the mixed doubles, Nikkita Cowburn, playing in her first county match, played with Michael Johnston, securing a 21-17 win making the match result 6-1.

In the second match we played Yorkshire 2.  Lancashire had a clean sweep winning 7-0.  The third and final match in round one was against Lothian.  Both singles went to Lothian, but in the boys doubles Philip & Michael and Kristian & Tom managed to pull off the only wins in the match, making Lothian 5-2 winners.

The top two teams from both boxes went into the final round to contest 1st to 4th places.  The qualifying teams were Lothian, Lancashire, Yorkshire 1 and Cheshire.  With the result from the first round carried forwards, we had two matches left.  First up was Yorkshire 1.  Kristian won the singles in convincing style.  Robbie & Tom played the most outstanding doubles that must have been the performance of the day to take the second boys doubles 21-18.  With Lancashire also winning the first boys doubles we couldn’t match their girls and ended with a 4-3 defeat.

The final match was against Cheshire ... a win here would secure a 3rd place finish.  The team selection was discussed at length to try to second guess Cheshire’s tactics.  We decided that Cheshire would throw the singles by not playing Matt Nottingham or Richard Bergh.  So we decided to also leave Philip & Kristian out of the singles and play Tom who we hoped would take the singles.  We were not disappointed.  Tom took a superb victory over Robert Herriott.  In the girls singles, Danya played her best game of the day to win 21-12.  The boys doubles were next and with Philip & Michael and Kristian & Robbie taking both games 21-18 & 21-17, the match had been secured.  But we weren’t satisfied with that!  Becky & Lizzie played 1st doubles and pulled off a great win over Cheshire’s strongest pair 21-15.  John-Gareth & Sarah Kenny also got on the winning list by taking a fantastic mixed doubles 21-12 over the very competent Richard Bergh & partner.  Final result was 6-1 to Lancashire.

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The day ended with the presentation of medals to the top three teams.  In my view this was the best performance of the season from the Lancashire players and was extremely pleasing to see every singles player giving 100 percent.  Many thanks to all the parents for their support.

Steve Aspinall

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U15 Shires League Finals
23rd April 2006

Philip Aspinall Nicola Poole
Kristian Byrne Emily Miller
Danny Wolfenden Steph Hall
Michael Johnston Becky Hurst
Jack McKay Lizzie Balmforth

The Shires League Finals were held at Babington College in Leicester on 23rd April, where eight qualifying teams played off for positions.  The first round match was crucial as this determined a top or bottom half finish.  The first round was drawn at random and Lancashire was to play Avon.  On paper, it looked as if we had a good chance.  First game on was singles where Philip got the team off to a good start by beating Chris Coles 21-12.  The next five games all went in Avon’s favour, who looked to be a much improved side from 12 months ago.  Kristian & Philip took the first boys doubles, Becky & Lizzie won the second girls doubles which meant the final result ended 7-3 to Avon.

In the second round we needed to secure a win to guarantee a 5th or 6th place finish.  In this round we were drawn against Nottinghamshire.  After a much needed motivational talk by Dave Miller, the team looked much more up for the challenge.  The match started with the mixed doubles, again both games going in favour of Notts.  Next on were the boy’s singles where both Philip and Danny took well deserved wins.  In the girls singles Nicola had to play Jess Tandy and Lizzie had to play Jess Martin.  Despite putting up a good fight both games went to Nottinghamshire.  Jack McKay & Michael Johnston played superbly to take the second boys doubles and with Lancs also winning the first boys, the match score now stood at 4-4.  With just the two girl’s doubles to play, Emily & Steph couldn’t quite match Notts, so it was all down to the last game.  After a quick check on points, Becky & Lizzie had the almost impossible task of taking the last game to 21-3 to guarantee a win.  As the game got under way, the girls edged ever closer to victory, and with the score on 20-3 the team were on the edge of their seats.  At the last attempt, Notts got the serve back and pinched two more points giving a two point victory to Nottinghamshire.

The third and final match was to contest 7th & 8th place, against Essex.  Again the match started with both mixed doubles going in the opposition’s favour.  In the singles Nicola battled hard to take the first girls singles and with both boys also winning the singles we were back level at 3 games all.  Despite some close games we only managed to take one more game making the final result 6-4 to Essex.

Despite a disappointing 8th place finish, the team can be proud with the fact that they qualified for the finals and in reality were 8th out of  30+ counties who started in the competition.  Well done to all the players and thanks to Dave and the rest of the parents.

Steve Aspinall (U15 Team Manager)

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Inter Counties Tournament 2006
16th April 2006

 Thirty eight teams entered the U17 Inter Counties Tournament (ICT) this year at Nottingham University, from 10th - 13th April 2006.  Teams play ten or eleven matches of ten games each (two games in each discipline) with counties progressing through three groups to determine their overall position at the end of the four days.

Gary Fox Kirstin Miller
Ross Little Nicola Poole
Michael Mellor Stephanie James
Chris Brown Emily Miller
Tom Dickinson Holly Richards

Manager: Dave Miller.  Assistant managers: Belinda Miller; Amanda Barrett.

In their first group Lancashire drew Avon, Suffolk, Glamorgan and Shropshire, needing two wins to guarantee progression into the top half for their second round of matches.

Avon was a tough opener: Chris Coles is a talented young singles player and the girls strong enough.  In the event it was first girls doubles that swung the tie, as Kirstin & Emily beat Jennifer Cross & Emily White 21-18, keeping their cool after a debated line call at 18-all.  That took the match to 4-3 in Lancs’ favour, leaving Gary & Ross and “secret weapons” Chris & Tom to sweep up the last two games required for a 6-4 win.

Suffolk came next, a match which looked on paper to be well within our reach.  And so it proved, as Gary & Kirstin won at first mixed and the four singles players, Ross, Michael, Nicola and Steph, all had convincing singles wins.  The match was already won at 6-1 before we let the last three games slip away, leaving Lancs on top 6-4.

Glamorgan looked a tough proposition, with players of the class of Phil Godfrey, Oliver Hartery, Kelly Blake and Nicole Walkley.  Gary & Kirstin put up a great fight against Oliver & Nicole, holding them at 15-all before the game got away 15-21.  Second mixed went against us, before Ross went into a titanic battle with Phil and Michael likewise with Craig Walkley.  Both matches were on court for a long time, being played like games of chess on legs, before Michael pulled up with cramp with the score 16-12 in favour.  He got up to take the next two points before having to retire injured.  Ross then completed his epic with a 21-17 score in his favour.  Match score 3-1 down ... the team needed something from the girls.  Nicola played a blinder, coming from 0-7 down to win 21-8; Steph then followed suit, saving two game points before winning the closest match of the day 21-20.  With the boys winning their doubles well the score sat at 5-3.  Kirstin & Emily played terrific badminton to hold Kelly & Nicole at 15-all before losing out, but Nicola & Holly wrapped up the match with a solid 21-6 win at second levels.  Match score 6-4.

The team ended day 1 on a real high and, after refuelling at the chippy, arrived back at their accommodation after 11pm, before dutifully heading off to bed (!!) ready for their first match on Tuesday at 9am.  This match saw the team wrap up their group with 4 wins from 4, as they beat a Shropshire team looking for their first win by 8-2.  It might have been more but for the strange ranking of the two Shropshire girls levels pairs, leaving what appeared to be their best two girls at second levels.

So onto round two, with Lancashire placed in the top half of the draw with two group winners, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, and two runners-up, Leicestershire and Leinster.

Michael was still a bit jaded from his epic singles and resulting cramp on the first day, so Chris and Tom followed up their Shropshire singles with a further test.  Gary & Kirstin got the team off to a flyer with a stunning 21-13 win against Joe Mathers & Emma Woolley, though Ross & Emily could not quite get the better of Ryan Bloor & Joanne White.  With Staff’s strength in depth in the girls and no joy in the boys singles, the team found themselves 1-5 down with the levels to play.  Gary & Michael then played one of the team’s best levels of the week as they notched up a great 21-20 win over Darren Chesworth & Joe Mathers.  Despite a good 21-10 win at second levels by Kirstin & Holly the match was just beyond the team, losing by a close 4-6.

The team then went into back-to-back matches on Tuesday evening against Leicestershire and Yorkshire.  Hopes were high against Leicestershire, though were dented when both mixed got away to 14 and 16.  The boys took their singles but Vinita Bhakta and a much-improved Chelsey White took both girls singles with a bit to spare.  Nayan Patel & Avinash Chandarana offered a very strong second string to the Leicestershire boys and, with this and the two girls doubles going to the Leicestershire pairs, the match was lost 3-7.

Having seemed a bit flat in the first match of the evening the team were in need of a boost, but with Yorkshire to come (who were yet to drop a single game) the signs were not good.  But cometh the hour for players to stand up and be counted!  Ross had given some hope when he came off after the Leicestershire match to inform his colleagues “I was awesome, put me in the singles against Yorkshire.”  And he made his racket do the talking.  He played Richard Morris and Michael was pitted against Ian Mercer.  Both games drew out into games of cat and mouse, with scores edging up towards the critical stages.  Michael was in trouble at 19-11 when Ian showed signs of cramp.  Ian is a talented player and most opponents could not have exploited what seemed like a minimal change in his movement on court, but Michael edged his way back point by point, saving several services from Ian before wrapping up a very tight game 21-19.  Ross had an equally tight finish but finally edged Richard out 21-17 with a string of “awesome” points.  Ross’ high lasted some time and it was certainly well deserved.  Ian had to pull out of his levels, giving a final score of 3-7 to Yorkshire and a good finish to a tough day.

So into Wednesday and the last match in round 2 with an encounter against Leinster.  The team was very positive from the start and Gary & Kirstin once again showed how accomplished their partnership has become, as they beat a very strong pair of Mark Donnelly & Joanne Flanagan 21-10.  Nicola played really well against Joanne at first singles but she just lost 16-21.  Ross continued his top form against Mark (21-11) and Chris & Tom gained a solid win at second levels.  The match just escaped the team 4-6.  Four good matches and 14 games won wasn’t enough to avoid last spot in the group, leaving the players to battle out 17th - 20th spot in their final group, with matches against the Isle of Man, Glamorgan (again) and Avon (again)!

In the first match against Glamorgan, Steph had a classic 21-20 win against Kiri Evans but, having played herself back to true form, she had little trouble second time round with a 21-10 win on this occasion.  This followed another excellent win at first for Gary & Kirstin 21-3 and a narrow 20-21 loss for Ross & Emily at second.  Glamorgan were unlucky in the boys as Phil Godfrey had picked up an arm injury and was not playing.  This left the door open for Michael to take first boys 21-13 and Chris to bank second 21-14.  Nicola again beat Helen Sanders, then when Gary & Ross won comfortably at first levels and Glamorgan had another injury leaving Chris & Tom with their second walk-over of the week, the tie could not be lost.  Final match result 8-2.

Against Avon the team wanted a strong win in the mixed, knowing that some of the later games in the first encounter had been very close in our favour.  Gary & Kirstin were showing signs of tiredness and slipped behind, whilst Ross & Emily produced perhaps our best second mixed of the week winning 21-3.  Gary & Kirstin worked hard to regain the initiative and took a really close game 21-18.  Ross was back in the singles, winning to 8, whilst Michael was showing his best form, winning his rematch with Chris Coles 21-9.  The Avon girls were too strong in the singles, leaving the match at 4-2 before the level doubles.  Some Avon tactical changes had tightened up their levels and when Gary & Michael went 0-9 down the tie suddenly looked very close and points might be crucial in the event of a 5-5 draw.  The boys battled their way back to a 21-17 win, whilst Nicola & Holly grabbed crucial points at second girls going down to 9.  As Chris & Tom and Kirstin & Emily went behind early on the team knew they needed 27 points from these two games to win in a 5-5 draw.  Every point was received with deafening cheers and both pairs gave their all to secure every point.  As Chris & Tom finished with a late flurry of points, losing 18-21, Kirstin & Emily changed ends 5-11 down, being told they needed 6 more points (actually only 4!).  Point by point they pulled the game back and finally grabbed the last points needed for a nail biting 13-21 loss, but match win 5 (165 points) to 5 (160).  Next time any of our players play in a local league and the opposition ask for silence off court, they will wonder why badminton has to be played in a library-like atmosphere!

So to the disco!  The great finish to the badminton day, no injuries and a great team spirit, left the team ready to unwind in the evening.  Hair straighteners, trendy outfits and Michael dancing on he tables (we hear)!  The Lancashire players deserved their evening’s entertainment, whilst at the same time making life easy for their manager, Dave, and assistants Belinda and Amanda.

It might have been hard to raise their game for the final match on Thursday morning after the gruelling schedule of the first three days, but when Gary & Kirstin got warmed up and wiped out an early deficit, they led the team from the front in their final mixed as an ICT pair, winning 21-14, followed by Chris & Holly with a convincing 21-11 win.  Wins in three of the four singles took the team’s games tally to 5, then Gary & Ross rushed to victory 21-4, followed by Chris & Tom in their last ICT game with a faultless 21-0 win.  Shared games in the girls doubles gave Lancashire an 8-2 win, victory in their group and an overall ICT placing of 17th.

The result was the same as 2005, but the important factor at ICT is not the result but the manner of its achievement.  The team was a pleasure to work with, their attitude on and off court exemplary.  Gary and Kirstin captained the team, ensuring the county’s reputation for sportsmanship with words of thanks to the opposing teams after each match.  The atmosphere was electric, the support from players, parents and our friendly neighbours Cheshire very welcome.  Lancashire were as noisy as any county!  Thank you to Belinda for arranging and driving the team mini-bus, and thank you to Amanda Barrett for sharing her experience from prior ICTs and supporting the team through their eleven matches.  Yorkshire won the event 6-4 over Hertfordshire, but the real winners were all the players who shared the fun and excitement that make the ICT the best badminton junior team event on the calendar.  Lancashire has seven of its ten players available for selection next year and there are others coming through the system who will challenge for places, but the celebration right now is with the ten players that made Lancashire’s 2006 ICT a week to remember.

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U17 ICT Team - names in order of 1st picture
Back: Amanda Barrett (Assistant Manager), Michael Mellor, Ross Little, Tom Dickinson, Chris Brown, Gary Fox, Dave Miller (Manager)
Front: Holly Richards, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Kirstin Miller, Stephanie James 

Click here to view an amazing clip showing the cat-like reflexes of one of our players!

Results summary:

Round 1
Avon won 6-4
Suffolk won 6-4
Glamorgan won 6-4
Shropshire won 8-2
Result: qualified in 1st place, now playing for positions 1-20
Round 2
Staffordshire lost 4-6
Leicestershire lost 3-7
Yorkshire lost 3-7
Leinster lost 4-6
Result: last in second group, now playing for positions 17-20
Round 3
Glamorgan won 8-2
Avon won 5 (165) - 5 (160)
Isle of Man won 8-2
Result: 17th in ICT

Dave Miller

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U15 Team Challenge Final
2nd April 2006

How close to the top, but 7th on the day was a great achievement for Lancashire’s under 15s in the national Team Challenge finals, played in Luton on 2nd April 2006.

The teams split into two groups of six for the first part of the day, with the top two qualifying for a 1-4 play-off, the next two in each group playing for 5-8 and the fifth and sixth competing for places 9-12.  In the first match the team played Bucks and recorded a 4-3 win.  They followed this with a desperately close match against Essex.  After the two singles and two levels the team trailed 1-3: Nicola had an excellent win in the singles and the boys levels slipped away 14-15.  The three mixed games then got away, as Essex recorded the narrowest 3-4 win.

The team then required good wins in their matches against Kent and Notts, as Essex had lost to Notts and a tied league position could send a team through on a games count back.  They first beat Kent by a resounding 6-1, then everyone played an outstanding match against Notts as they again notched up a 6-1 win.  Emily and Steph had a resounding 15-5 win against the top Notts pair.

In the final group match the team knew they needed games against group favourites Hampshire and had to hope Kent took games off Essex.  Though Danny and Emily and Philip and Nicola had good wins at 2nd and 3rd mixed, the final 2-5 defeat did not reflect the effort and ability shown on court.  Essex beat Kent 6-1, leaving our players 2 games shy (for the second year in succession) of a top four finish.

The margins are always tight in these matches: had Lancs reversed the 3-4 result against Essex the team could have contested for places 1-4 instead of 5-7.  The miss knocked a bit out of the players and the final two matches went a bit flat, with losses to Cheshire and Avon.  But their performances in the matches against Kent, Notts and Hampshire showed how very talented the group is and how, in the next three years, the players will grace many a junior tournament to come.

Philip Aspinall Nicola Poole
Kristian Byrne Emily Miller
Daniel Wolfenden Stephanie Hall
Jack McKay Becky Hurst

Thanks to all the supporters and a big thank you to Steve Aspinall, who not only looked after the team on the day, but who put in many hours over the season for the team.

The event was won by Yorkshire, with Herts second, Leicestershire third and Essex 4th.  Next stop the Shires final, after their comfortable 15-5 win over Staffs the day before: Lizzy Balmforth and Michael Johnston played in this match.

Lancashire U15 Team
Back row: Becky Hurst, Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Emily Miller, Daniel Wolfenden
Front row: Jack McKay, Stephanie Hall, Nicola Poole

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Under 14 North Midway Success
5th March 2006

Richard Walker Sarah Kenny
Johnny Phillips Stephanie Hall
Robbie McDonald Becky Hurst
James Abdous Lizzie Balmforth
Michael Johnson  

The Lancashire team in the second leg of the North Midway tournament at Rotherham proved that they were by far the best team there, winning a total of 42 games from a total of 50 played.  In the morning session they defeated Durham 9-1, Yorkshire "B" 9-1 and our friendly rivals from Cheshire 7-3.  The players took turns in playing the singles matches and they swapped around as doubles partners to make this a real team effort.  In the afternoon session they took on an unbeaten Yorkshire "A" and beat them soundly 7-3.  A final 10-0 win against Warwickshire rounded off an excellent experience for all of the squad.

Lancashire U14 Team
Back row: Richard Walker, Johnny Phillips, Robbie McDonald, James Abdous, Michael JOhnston
Front row: Sarah Kenny, Stephanie Hall, Becky Hurst, Lizzie Balmforth 

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U17 'RIO'
21st & 22nd January 2006

It’s been all change in the U17s this year for Lancashire, with 9 of the 10 players at last year’s ICT tournament too old for U17 consideration this time round.  So there are a number of new faces in the age group and, looking at the RIO team, a young squad that will be competitive this year and, for many, in years to come.

The two day event started abruptly when a phone call at 7.10 a.m. said that Ross Little had been taken ill and could not play.  The benefit of selecting a reserve showed, as a phone call to the Byrne household at 7.15 a.m. was not too much of a shock.  Alex was up and on the road with us soon after 8 and the team duly assembled for their 10 a.m. start.

RIO stands for Railway Institute Octagonal, giving away that this is an 8 team even!  On Saturday two groups of four play each other, with the top and bottom two splitting to meet on Sunday.  Lancashire got a tough draw, first facing Lothian, one of Scotland’s strongest teams, followed by Yorkshire, England’s best.  But it gave the players a chance to acclimatise and for us to test a couple of pairs.

Michael Mellor Kirstin Miller
Gary Fox Holly Richards
Chris Brown Abigail South
Tom Dickinson Nicola Poole
Alex DuNoyer Emily Miller
Alex Byrne Stephanie Hall

Alex Byrne and Abigail were up for the challenge, as they won 21-18 against the Lothian 3rd mixed.  Others came close but couldn’t quite get over the finishing line.  Chris went down 16-21 in a good 2nd singles; Steph lost 18-21 at 3rd singles; Alex & Alex lost an epic 3rd levels 20-21; and Kirstin and Steph lost a very good game 19-21 at 2nd levels.  Final score 14-1 to Lothian.

Yorkshire was a tough follow up match and the fact that only 3 of our players got into double figures showed how dominant they are at this level.  One game of real note, though, was Alex DuNoyer’s game against Mark Middleton.  No one told Alex that Mark was ranked 2 nationally at singles (U15) and Alex ran the game close, going down 16-21.

The third and final match on the Saturday against Surrey gave the team the opportunity to set up a winning start for the second group, as the result carried forward.  The two teams were evenly matched, as the final scores to each team would show – 269 to 268 to Lancs.  The difference was in the ability to win close games!  Six times the losing player or pair scored 18, 19 or 20 points – five times the losing player or pair was from Surrey.  After 3 excellent wins in the mixed, Michael then played probably the best game of singles he has played for the county to date, beating highly ranked James Buffham 21-20.  Chris almost did the same to Sam Phillips, but the game went the other way 20-21.  The next 3 games went against us, leaving the match at 4-4.  Steph then gave her all and showed that, despite not loving singles, she is good at it, beating Rachel Daw 21-18.  The doubles then saw the players produce their best badminton, with Gary & Michael convincingly winning at 1st, Tom & Chris finishing strongly to win 21-18, and Alex & Alex striding confidently in 21-16.  The new pair of Kirstin & Nicola didn’t get off the ground, but the tried and trusted pair of Emily & Steph won a tough game 21-19, before Holly and Abigail wrapped the match up with a 21-18 win.  A 10-5 win to Lancashire.

The evening had the potential to be a bit hit and miss this year, as the regular hotel was unavailable, leaving the players at The Racecourse Centre (a sort of Youth Hostel with catering) and an evening disco a mile and a half away at a working men’s club.  But the opposite was true (as the photos show) with the players coming together as a very sociable group, with the highlight being nearly every player sitting on the dance floor rowing to the ‘rowing song’ (anyone know the name?!).

If we thought the players would be tired on Sunday it didn’t show on court, as the players beat Leicestershire comfortably 14-1.  Gary & Kirstin had an excellent 1st mixed, winning 21-17, which Kirstin then followed up well at 1st levels with sister Emily, taking a tight game 21-19.  Nicola made up for an unsuccessful and very tough Saturday, with a crushing 21-0 win in the singles, followed by a win at 2nd levels with Steph 21-15.  Tom played a very accomplished game of singles at 2nd, winning 21-15.

The final match against Warwickshire was, on paper, going to be close, and with the score at 1-1 after the first two mixed a close encounter looked likely.  Alex Byrne & Abi then took 3rd mixed, before the six singles players demolished the Warwicks line-up, giving away only 36 points (an average of 6 a game) to take the match score to a winning 8-1.  In the levels Chris & Tom summed up the team’s overall performance as they changed ends 4-11 down, then playing superb badminton to rush to a 21-13 win against a decent pair of Matthew De Jesus & Thomas Love.  Nicola & Emily then did similar, on the edge of defeat at 8-19 against Fontaine Chapman and Kiera Mason at 1st levels, before staging a great comeback to win 21-20.  Final score 13-2 to Lancs.

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U17 RIO Team - names in order of 4th picture
(Back) Alex DuNoyer, Chris Brown, Tom Dickinson, Alex Byrne, Michael Mellor, Gary Fox
(Front) Nicola Poole, Holly Richards, Abigail South, Emily Miller, Kirstin Miller, Steph Hall

This was a very entertaining event, with players and parents contributing to a successful weekend for Lancashire.  The team came 5th overall in a high grade tournament, but as importantly they gelled together as a team.  Thank you to Gillian Mellor for helping to look after the team, including staying at The Racecourse Centre to assist with care and management, and thanks to Yorkshire who, year after year, put on a very successful RIO for huge numbers of players.  Thanks and well done to everyone.

Dave Miller
U17 Team Manager

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U17 Shires Latest
27th November 2005

The Under 17s Shires campaign is well under way, with 4 of the 7 matches played.  And the team's hopes of qualifying, as one of the top two in the league, are still on, with only one match lost, to favourites Yorkshire 1.

After their win against Derbyshire (see below) the team travelled to Yorkshire on 6th November, where they were dispatched 0-20 by an excellent opposition.  Yorkshire are full of top players, but it is nice to note that there is little evidence of arrogance amongst their players.  Well played Raychel Dawes on a very tough introduction to Shires matches!  The Lancs team was: Michael Mellor, Ross Little, Chris Brown, Gary Fox, Holly Richards, Kirstin Miller, Abigail South and Raychel Dawes.

On 20th November Lancs played at Tarleton against Staffordshire, always one of our closest matches in any age group.  And so it proved this time, with the result hanging in the balance until the final game.  Playing the singles first, the boys finished 2-2 with Ross Little and Gary Fox notching up wins, whilst the girls fought out some real epics, with Nicola Poole taking Joanne White to 3 before losing, Emily Miller missing out 10-13 (with a pause for a debate on ladies singles setting - to 12 or 13?), 9-11 to Faye Inskip, and Kirstin Miller testing her fitness against a younger Emma Jackson, finally winning 3-11, 11-3, 11-8.  3-5 down after the singles.  The mixed swung the match back to Lancs, with Gary Fox & Kirstin Miller, Michael Mellor & Steph James, and Ross Little & Nicola Poole all winning.  Score 6-6.

The level doubles produced some really close encounters, with our boys pairs both beating the Staffs second pair but losing to the first pair.  In the girls Kirstin & Emily Miller came from match point down to clinch a win against White & Inskip 8-15, 17-16, 15-13.  Meanwhile Nicola Poole & Steph James narrowly lost in 3 to the Jackson sisters, April and Emma.  In the cross over the Millers won comfortably against the Jacksons, whilst Nicola & Steph put up a terrific battle against the Staffs first pair, eventually going down in 3 games.  Final result, 10-10.  One league point each and all to play for in the rest of the Shires season.  The team was: Michael Mellor, Ross Little, Chris Brown, Gary Fox, Nicola Poole, Steph James, Emily Miller, Kirstin Miller.

On 27th November the team entertained Shropshire at Hope University, Liverpool.  Debut Shires player Jack Mitchell played an outstanding match, winning all 4 of his events in straight games, including a terrific 15-5, 15-6 win with Tom Dickinson against the first Shropshire pair of Tom Lees & Stuart Preston.  Emily Miller played well in her singles, beating Sarah Turner 13-10, 11-5.  Abigail South looks better each match she plays.  Amanda Rawlings, top Shropshire girl, took 3 of her 4 events, though these were to be her team's only successes, as Lancashire recorded a solid 17-3 win.  The team was: Chris Brown, Gary Fox, Tom Dickinson, Jack Mitchell, Steph James, Emily Miller, Kirstin Miller and Abigail South.

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U13 & U15 Team Challenge
26th November 2005

Lancashire had mixed success in the Team Challenge Qualifiers at Macclesfield Leisure Centre.  The U15s were favourites in their event and proved the point with wins against Derbyshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cumbria and Cheshire.  Only Cheshire took more than one game off the team, with Lancs winning 5-2.  Well done to the team of Philip Aspinall, Daniel Wolfenden, Kristian Byrne, Jack McKay, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall and Becky Hurst.  They go to the national final on 2nd April 2006.

The Under 13s did not fair quite so well, with the team missing out with losses against a very strong Cheshire team and Staffordshire.  There were some good performances by the team, led by Tom Wolfenden and Danya Lewis, with players like Sam Moss, Sam Clucas and Emma Karsten gaining valuable experience.  A number of key players were not available on the day.

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U14 North Midway League
16th October 2005

The Lancashire U14 team played the first round of the North Midway League in Rotherham and proved that they were as good as any other team there, including Yorkshire.  In the morning session they ended at the top of their group of 3 teams, defeating Northumberland 10-0 and Lincolnshire 9-1.  In the afternoon session, they took on Durham first and proved too strong for them, winning 6-4, before meeting unbeaten Yorkshire in the final game.  It was tough and it was tight, but after a mighty scrap Lancashire came away with a narrow 6-4 victory.

The whole team played well, including Richard Walker in his first match for the county.

b_l14nm5.jpg (57061 bytes) Lancashire U14 Team
Back:
Lizzie Balmforth, Abigail Kay, Becky Hurst, Sarah Kenny
Front: Richard Walker, James Abdous, Johnny Phillips, Tom Wolfenden
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U15 Shires Vs Derbyshire
9th October 2005

Lancashire’s U15 Shires team kicked off the season with a convincing win over Derbyshire.  The match started with easy wins in all four mixed doubles, none of the pairs letting Derbyshire reach double figures.  A similar story was seen in the boy’s singles with only 14 points dropped over the eight games, Jack McKay winning both his games 15-0.

The girl’s singles, however, was a different story.  Despite working hard, Lizzie Balmforth found it tough going against a very good Leah Kellogg.  Emily Miller battled through her first game taking it 12-11 and then went on to win the second 11-5.  Steph Hall and Becky Hurst both had convincing wins.

All the level doubles were relatively easy with all matches won in two games.  An excellent start to the season but beware, it can only get harder!! Next up Yorkshire 1 & 2.

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U13 Shires Match v Derbyshire
25th September 2005

The Lancashire Under 13 team played the first of 5 Shires League group matches away v Derbyshire.  Tom Wolfenden and Annabel Leather were both unavailable and therefore none of the 8 Lancashire players selected had played in the Shires League before this match.

Nevertheless, Lancashire got off to a flying start by winning all 4 of the Mixed Doubles, although our top pairing of Matthew Wright & Danya Lewis had to fight back from losing the first game against a strong Derbyshire pair.  In the Boys Singles, all 4 Lancashire boys crushed their opponents, with Robbie McDonald (No.1), Matthew Wright (2), Peter Athans (3) and Sam Clucas (4) all winning in straight games.  In the Girls Singles, Caroline Dawid-Paluch (No.2) and Emma Karsten (4), who was making her Lancashire debut, both won comfortably.  Danya (1) had to cope with a broken racquet and was beaten by a strong opponent.  Rebecca Mayers (3) had to cope with a prolonged nose-bleed during the middle of her match and fought bravely but in vain.  Each county won 2 matches.

The match score was 10-2 to Lancashire as the Level Doubles matches began and it was not long before Matthew & Peter secured the winning point.  Robbie & Sam came from 4-14 down to steal their first game 17-14 against the top Derbyshire pairing.  Our boys went on to win all 4 matches, with the Lancashire boys therefore unbeaten throughout the day.  Honours were again even in the Girls Doubles, although Danya & Caroline squeezed through the closest match of the day, winning 13-15, 15-11, 15-7.

Final match score 16-4 to Lancashire.  Well done to all who played and we can look forward with confidence to our next Shires League match at home (in Liverpool) v Staffordshire on Sunday 11th December.

Match report by Steve Athans (Lancashire U13 Team Manager)

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U17 Shires Match v Derbyshire
25th September 2005

In the U17s first match of the season Lancashire secured a very creditable 15-5 win.  This is the start of the Shires League, in which the team will meet tougher opponents, but this was a solid start indeed.  Gary Fox & Kirstin Miller were very convincing at first Mixed, giving away only 5 points.  Michael Mellor & Emily Miller lost a close match 13-15 in the third, providing a reminder perhaps that we can take no opponents for granted, as less strong counties see a match against Lancashire as their chance to shine.  Tom Dickinson & Holly Richards gave only one point away at third, whilst Chris Brown & Nicola Poole also had a convincing win at 4, leaving the team 3-1 up after the mixed.

In the Singles the boys took all the spoils, though Tom was stretched at third before taking the deciding game to 8.  Holly (3) and Kirstin (4) won good singles games, whilst Nicola (1) and Emily (2) lost against two decent opponents - Emily meeting a rapidly improving Leah Kellogg.

The boys showed their strength again, winning all 4 Level Doubles, whilst the girls shared results in their games, with Kirstin & Emily and Nicola & Holly beating the Derbyshire second pair but losing out to the first pair of Leah Kellogg & Janine Hichie.

This was a very solid start to the season, with all the players showing that they can (and want to) perform for the county - leaving U17 selection as a tricky proposition with so many players in the frame for team places.  Well played everyone.

Match report by Dave Miller (Lancashire U17 Team Manager)

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Lancashire Restricted Tournaments
20th September 2005

Thank you to the huge numbers that played in the Lancashire Restricted events on Sunday 18th September, at the eleventh hour venue change of the Kirkby Ball Hall, Liverpool.  Players and spectators were very patient with activities running for nearly 9 hours and the U17 Mixed Doubles still at the semi-final stage, to be played on 2nd October when the U15 event is played.

U17

A thrilling boys singles saw Michael Mellor edge out Ross Little 21-16 in the final, after no fewer than 8 groups had battled things out for several hours.  Danny Wolfenden ran Tom Dickinson close in the quarters, before going down 17-21; Philip Aspinall played well to beat Chris Brown 21-17 also in the quarters; whilst Richard Dundas played well against Michael losing out 15-21.  Of the non-qualifiers from the groups notable performances came from Adam Pickles, Jonathan Bradley and Lee Clayton.

The girls singles went to Stephanie James as she used her speed and never-say-die attitude to grab her semi-final from Nicola Poole, 21-19, and then overcame Holly Richards in the final 21-11.  Stephanie is playing at her best again, an encouraging sign for Lancashire in the coming season.  Other performances to note were Becky Hurst, just losing 16-21 to Nicola; Abigail South, beating Becky Hurst 21-18; Kirstin Miller, beating Stephanie Hall and Lucinda Wing to win her group; and Holly Richards in getting to the final.  Gemma Wilkinson and Raychel Dawes also impressed.

The level doubles went to Kirstin & Emily Miller in the girls, playing well as a pair to win the final 21-7 against Stephanie James & Nicola PooleRaychel Dawes & Abigail South again impressed.  In the boys, Gary Fox & Philip Aspinall were a cut above the rest as they kept their opponents at 11 points or less all day, winning the final 21-11 against Alex Byrne & Daniel Wolfenden.  Alex and Daniel played a superb semi-final (and possibly the game of the day) as they completed a semi-final win 21-20 over Tom Dickinson & Chris Brown.  Other impressive performances came from Adam Pickles & Alex DuNoyer; Kye Dorricott & Oliver Gyte; and Lee Clayton & Adam Sharples.

The mixed doubles semi-finals and final were carried over to 2nd October, which saw Chris Brown & Holly Richards beat Gary Fox & Kirstin Miller in the final.

All U17 results can be viewed by clicking here.

U15

The U15s played on 2nd October and the favourites in the singles events produced the goods on the day.  Philip Aspinall didn't drop a point in his qualifying group and went on to beat Danny Wolfenden in the final 21-11.  Kristian Byrne and Jack McKay lost at the semi final stage.  In the girls, Nicola Poole continued to dominate as she gave no more than 6 points a game away until the final, when she beat Lizzie Balmforth 21-12.  Lizzie played extremely well in the semi-final, coming from behind to beat Emily Miller 21-20.  Steph Hall also made the semi.

In the boys doubles Philip Aspinall & Kristian Byrne were never troubled, conceding no more than 4 points in any game.  They won the final 15-4 against Michael Johnston and Jack McKay.  Losing semi-finalists were James Abdous & Robbie McDonald and Danny & Tom WolfendenLuke Ormerod & John-Gareth Phillips played well on the day, just losing to the Wolfenden brothers in their group match 17-21, then narrowly losing their quarter-final to James & Robbie 16-21.

The girls doubles had just four pairs, but the match of the event was the final event between Emily Miller & Steph Hall and Nicola Poole & Lizzie Balmforth, with Emily & Steph taking it by the narrowest margin 21-20.  Becky Hurst & Rachel Wallbank came third.

To the mixed and  Philip Aspinall completed a clean sweep of event wins, as he and partner, Becky Hurst, beat Kristian Byrne & Steph Hall 15-11 in the semi-final and then took the final 15-12 against Jack McKay & Nicola Poole.  Jack & Nicola produced some of the best results of the event, with a 15-13 win in their quarter-final against Michael Johnston & Lizzie Balmforth, followed by a 15-10 win in the semi against Danny Wolfenden & Emily MillerAndrew Owen & Rachel Wallbank impressed from the other pairs in the event.

Finally, the Sports Person awards for the day went to Luke Ormerod and Rachel Wallbank.

U13

In the U13s the boys singles was the showpiece event, with all the top players competing.  The group stages produced some good games, with Tom Vinden having the nearest miss in his box, going down 19-21 to Matthew TolmanPeter Athans and Matthew lost respectively in the semi finals to Robbie McDonald and Tom Wolfenden, leaving Robbie to play the game of the day against Tom, winning the final 21-11.  The Boys Doubles started in two groups, with Peter Athans & Matthem Tolman, and Sam Clucas & Sam Moss impressing.  The awards went to Robbie McDonald & Tom Wolfenden who looked unbeatable, leaving Tom Vinden & Matthew Wright to take a well deserved runners-up spot.

The girls were low in numbers, but that didn't stop Danya Lewis from taking the undisputed number one spot in the singles as she gave only 8 points away in winning her 4 games.  Emma Karsten took second place, recording a 15-10 win over Hannah Buckingham, so edging Hannah into 3rd place.  In the doubles, Danya Lewis & Sophie Ann Sharples were too strong on the day, beating Hannah Buckingham & Emma Karsten 21-3, and Rachel Choong & Amy Shovelton 21-5.  Rachel & Amy played well but just missed out to Hannah & Emma, who came runners-up.

The mixed doubles was won by Matthew Wright & Danya Lewis, showing their dominance by conceding no more than 2 points per game, thus giving Danya the clean sweep of winning all three events - well done.  Tom Wolfenden & Hannah Buckingham came runners-up, with Sam Clucas & Emma Karsten 3rd.  Well done to all the players.

All U13 results can be viewed by clicking here - scroll below the U17 results.

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Lancashire Take Share In Grand Finals
4th July 2005

The U13 & U15 2005 "Grand Finals" were held at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes on 28th May 2005.  The top six singles players and top four doubles and mixed doubles pairs were invited from each age group.  Lancashire featured strongly in the winning places:

In the Under 15’s Gary Fox won the Mixed Doubles title with Gabbi White of Yorkshire.

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Philip Aspinall won the U13 singles title, he also finished runner up in the mixed doubles with partner Jessica Fletcher from Yorkshire.

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Kristian Byrne won the U13 doubles title with partner Peter Briggs of Leicestershire.

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U13 Shires League Final
8th May 2005

The culmination of a successful season in the Shires League was the Shires League Finals in Leicester on the 8th May 2005.  The finals were made up of eight teams, two from each of the four regions.  Despite being in the same regional area, Yorkshire and Lancashire were seeded 1 & 2.

The match format for the finals was 10 games (2 of each discipline).  The first match was against the number six seeds Middlesex.  The two mixed doubles were split - James & Sarah pulled off a great win 21-16.  Philip & Kristian took both the boys singles with Steph winning first girls singles.  Both the boys and girls doubles were split giving Lancashire a 6-4 victory in what proved to be a very close match.

Having won the first match we were playing for one of the top four places.  The second match was against Nottinghamshire.  Tom & Becky had a convincing win at first mixed.  Philip & Kristian again took both the singles with ease and Lizzie had a crucial win in her singles 21-18.  In the level doubles Philip & Kristian were the only winning pair which meant the match was level on games at 5-5.  Fortunately due to a 19 point advantage, Lancashire came out the winners.

The last match was against Yorkshire where we were playing for 1st & 2nd place.  Yorkshires strength in the girls meant we had to change the team in order to strengthen the mixed doubles.  Our most optimistic result was a 5-5 score on games which would mean a points win for one of the teams.  First games on were the mixed.  Philip & Becky had a terrific win 21-7 over Sarah Milne & Sam Wilson.  James and Steph had a tough game against Tom Mills & Laura Mercer.  In the boys singles Kristian had a convincing 21-5 win.  Tom played out of his skin to pull off an essential win 21-18 against Joe Cowling. Match score was now 3-1, all games going as expected!!

The two girls singles were always going to be difficult, both games went to Yorkshire making the match score 3-3.  Next on were the boys doubles, both games going easily in Lancashire’s favour - match score now 5-3 with a 6 points lead.  The last two games on were the girls doubles - with the strength of the Yorkshire girls we were in need something extra special to not drop more than 6 points in two games.  As expected Yorkshire won the doubles and gained a greater points advantage making Yorkshire U13 champions and Lancashire runners-up.

It was a terrific effort from all the team as usual.  Thanks to all the players and parents for a great day out.

Steve Aspinall

Lancashire U13 Team
Back row: Sarah Kenny, Becky Hurst, Lizzie Balmforth, Stephanie Hall
Front row: Kristian Byrne, Tom Wolfenden, Philip Aspinall, James Abdous

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U12 & Primary Schools Update
21st April 2005

North Midway Primary School Age Team Event - 30th January 2005

Peter Athans (captain) Rachel Chung
Andrew Cardus Caroline Dawid-Puluch
Matthew Tolman (first rep) Stephanie Dawid-Puluch (first rep)
Tom Vinden Serena Hindle (first rep)
  Rebecca Mayers
  Amy Shovelton

In the opening boys singles Peter improved on his previous result against George Li by beating him convincingly 15-3.  Overall Cheshire proved too strong for our very inexperienced team repeating November's 8-2 result.  Nevertheless Matthew & Serena, in their debuts, won a very exciting mixed doubles 15-14.

The Leicestershire team was different from our previous encounter, with the result going against us 3-7.  However our match against Yorkshire 1 was nerve racking.  With the two mixed doubles left to play the score was 4 all.  Tom & Caroline were narrowly beaten 13-15, so it was left to Andrew & Rachel to salvage a draw (no pressure!!).  They played like seasoned campaigners, beating the Yorkshire pair 15-5 to secure a draw and joint fourth place with both Yorkshire 1 and Leicestershire.  The top three placings were Nottinghamshire (winners), Warwickshire (2nd) and Cheshire (3rd).

Thanks to the parents for bringing their young players and for all their support.  Special thanks to Peter who was drafted in at the last minute.

North Midway U12 Team Event - 20th February 2005

Annabel Leather Matthew Wright
Danya Lewis Peter Athans
Heather Poole Sam Clucas
Rachel Poole Sam Moss

Lancashire's first game against Nottinghamshire (the eventual overall winner) was not as one sided as the scores would indicate.  Matthew & Peter won our only game of the match, whilst the rest of the games provided a sequence of exciting games and rallies.  Following that disappointment the team showed their resiliance in the remaining matches in the group.

Yorkshire 1 were the unfortunate team to receive the backlash from the first match, beating them 8-2.  Durham also had no answer to our determination, losing out to us 9-1.  The final match in the group was against Cheshire.  It turned out to be a nail biting match.  With the score at 5-4 in our favour, in the final game Sam Moss & Rachel fought back from 2-9 down to 9-9, but exhaustion took its toll and the pair finally lost 9-15.  However the fight back helped to win the match on aces (points) 106-105.  Consequently the team were runners-up in the group.  The players then went on to beat Warwickshire to take third place on the day and third place overall for the two days combined.

Yorkshire 2 won on the day, with Nottinghamshire second.  Overall the winners were Nottinghamshire, with Yorkshire 2 coming second.

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U15 Shires Match v Derbyshire - 10th April 2005
11th April 2005

Richard Dundas Nicola Poole
Alex DuNoyer Stephanie James
Mark McKay Emily Miller
Guy Mullarkey Holly Richards

The U15s finished their regional qualifying group in the Shires League with a resounding 20-0 win against Derbyshire.  Lancashire rarely looked like dropping a game and were only taken to setting once in a clean sweep of 2-0 wins.  Richard Dundas at first singles, Guy Mullarkey at fourth singles, and Holly Richards & Steph James in the cross-over doubles, were given the toughest games, but all played well to come through unscathed.

Lancashire finish runners-up in their regional group (to Yorkshire) and head off to the final in Leicester on 15th May. 

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Inter Counties Tournament
4th April 2005

Lancashire U17s competed in the annual Inter Counties Tournament (ICT) at Nottingham University on 31st March - 3rd April, finishing a creditable 17th.  This is the biggest team event on the junior calendar run over four days, with each county playing 10 matches.

Darren Hosegood (Singles and Boys Doubles) Laura Walsh (Singles and Girls Doubles)
Paul Maguire (Singles and Mixed) Amanda Barrett (Singles and Mixed)
Jamie Fairclough  (Boys Doubles and Singles) Stephanie Taylor (Girls Doubles and Mixed)
Tom Huggon (Boys Doubles and Singles) Charlotte Hall (Girls Doubles and Mixed)
Dave Kenny (Boys Doubles and Mixed) Kirstin Miller (Girls Doubles and Mixed)

7 a.m. on Thursday 31st and I was already in the mini-bus heading down the M55 to pick up Tom Huggon - the first of the stops.  Luckily the journey was uneventful and we reached Nottingham at 10.30, checked into our rooms, had the team photo, the team talk, some lunch and then off to the first venue.

Our group contained Hampshire, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire and Northumberland.  We knew that our first match against Gloucestershire was going to be a crucial one.  Darren and Paul had tough singles and Amanda and Laura won theirs to level us at 2-2.  The girls doubles were close but did not go our way, but Dave and Jamie won their boys doubles in convincing style with good attacking play.  The score was 5-3 against us with the 2 mixed to play.  Dave and Amanda won 21-14 and Paul and Charlotte fought hard but were just pipped at the post 21-20 giving Gloucs the win 6-4.

Leicestershire were next and Amanda and Laura got us off to a good start in the singles, followed by Darren.  Tom and Darren had a tremendous doubles, pulling it back from 11-0 down to win 21-19, and Dave and Jamie followed with a close 21-19 win.  The mixed doubles were both won by Lancs which gave us a 7-3 win overall.  Paul and Charlotte were settling down well as a pair with Charlotte’s tight net play complementing Paul’s control of the mid and rear court. Hampshire was a tough match and everyone rose to the challenge - but despite superb play from Tom and Darren and Dave and Amanda (who were playing the England No 1 U17 boy and No 3 U17 girl) both games were lost 21-20 and the match 10-0.

Saturday we were up bright and early to play our last group match against Northumberland which we won 9-1.  Leicestershire beat Gloucestershire, Hampshire won all their matches, Nothumberland lost all their matches.  This meant that Leicestershire, Gloucestershire and Lancashire were all tied on 2 matches won and were fighting for places 2-4.  It was down to games.  Leics and Gloucs had 21 games each and Lancs had 20 - Leics won on points and were second in the group which meant they went into the top half of the draw.  We were pushed into 4th place - to fight for places 17-32. 

Our next group had Oxfordshire, Flintshire and Berkshire.  The Oxfordshire match was won 8-2 and it was time to face Flintshire.  Having won our Shires match against Flintshire 18-2 with 3 of our players missing I did not think we would have too much of a problem.  Wrong!  With the two girls doubles remaining the score was level at 4-4 in games and level in points.  Laura and Steph raced off into the lead and at the turn were 11-2 up.  Charlotte and Kirstin turned at 11-1 down.  Once everyone knew the situation whistles were blowing, hooters were sounding and every winning point got resounding cheers.  Scores went up and down.  Laura and Steph were winning 18-9 and looking set to finish the game off - Kirstin and Charlotte were 20-15 down but if they lost we would win on points.  Then the games started to change and the Flintshire 1st girls started to pull back - but so did Charlotte and Kirstin at 2nd girls with good attacking play.  Soon Charlotte and Kirstin were at 20-20 and won the match, closely followed by Laura and Steph with a 21-18 win.  Overall a 6-4 win.

Our last game in the group against Berkshire started well with wins from Dave and Amanda, Paul and Charlotte in the mixed, followed by convincing wins from Paul, Laura and Amanda in the singles.  Laura and Steph, Kirstin and Charlotte were going from strength to strength in the girls doubles and both won 21-6.  Dave and Jamie also won convincingly giving us a match score of 8-2.  Having won all our matches we won the group.

Saturday we started our final group with Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire (again!!).  We knew that the Lincolnshire girls were very strong but we hoped to pick up the 2 mixed and at least 3 of the boys events.  Dave and Amanda and Paul and Charlotte started off the match positively both winning well.  Laura fought a very hard game and, although she lost, gained us 13 valuable points as did Amanda with 17 points.  Paul wore his opponent down and had a good win to 14.   The boys doubles (Tom and Darren, Dave and Jamie) played tactical games and won well only giving the opposition 12 and 3 points respectively.  The girls doubles were tough but Laura and Steph gained 16 points and Charlotte and Kirstin 12.  The final score 5-5 but we won on points.

Shropshire boys were strong but we hoped to pick up the mixed and all the girls events - which we did giving us 6 games.  In addition Paul won an excellent singles 21-13.  In the boys doubles Darren and Tom started off aggressively against Tom Priestley and Simon Clifford and, after a very tight and exciting game, won 21-20.  A good win 8-2.  So on Sunday we had our final game - the rematch against Gloucs - for 17/18th place.  Unfortunately Darren was ill and unable to play so we had to change our team.  Jamie and Tom would play the singles.  Dave and Jamie would move to 1st boys doubles and Paul and Tom would play 2nd.  The girls would remain unchanged.  Dave and Amanda, Paul and Charlotte started the match well with positive wins.  Jamie had a tough game but managed to get us valuable points.  Tom totally destroyed his opposition with his casual style of play and accurate placement winning 21-7.  Laura replayed Emily Witham and won convincingly.  Amanda had a difficult match against Becky Jones but gained 19 valuable points.  After the boys doubles the score was 4-4 with just the girls doubles to play.  As in the Flintshire match we thought if we could win just 1 game we would win on points.  Charlotte and Kirstin attacked from the start and won convincingly 21-11.  Laura and Steph played exceptional badminton with few mistakes and finally won 21-20 in an exciting finish giving us a 6-4 win overall - giving us 17th place.

Of the 3 counties who tied in the first group, Leicestershire came 14th, Lancashire 17th and Gloucestershire 18th.  Well done everyone - there were outstanding performances from every member of the team.  You played well as a team and gave each other wonderful support.  Yorkshire won the event for the 7th year in succession, with Hertfordshire runners-up, Nottinghamshire 3rd and Buckinghamshire 4th.

Round 1

Hampshire - won 4 matches - 34 games - 783 points - 1st
Leicestershire - won 2 matches - 21 games - 653 points - 2nd
Gloucestershire - won 2 matches - 21 games - 629 points - 3rd
Lancashire - won 2 matches - 20 games - 644 points - 4th
Northumberland - won 0 matches - 4 games - 350 points - 5th

Round 2

Lancashire beat Oxfordshire 8-2
Lancashire beat Flintshire 6-4
Lancashire beat Berkshire 8-2

Round 3

Lancashire beat Lincolnshire 5-5 (172 to 150 points)
Lancashire beat Shropshire 8-2
Lancashire beat Gloucestershire 6-4

My thanks go to Tony Mordaunt for preparing the team so well, to Dave Miller for his continual support over the past 4 months, to the parents for all their support and encouragement and to all the talented and commited players without whom we would not have a county team.

Dorothy Barrett
Team Manager

b_l17ict1.jpg (62729 bytes) Lancashire ICT Team
Laura Walsh, Tom Huggon, Steph Taylor, Darren Hosegood, Kirstin Miller, Paul Maguire, Charlotte Hal
l, Jaime Fairclough, Dave Kenny, Amanda Barrett
b_l17ict2.jpg (52284 bytes) Team captains Laura Walsh and Amanda Barrett present a thank you gift to Dorothy Barrett, Team Manager
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Back: Paul Maguire, Dave Kenny, Steph Taylor, Kirstin Miller, Amanda Barrett, Dave Miller (Assistant Team Manager), Charlotte Hall
Front: Jaime Fairclough, Tom Huggon, Laura Walsh, Dorothy Barrett (Team Manager), Darren Hosegood

Click on the names in this sentence to read further ICT reports by Kirstin Miller (written for her sponsors) and Daniel Wright (Publicity Officer and prior Lancashire ICT player).  These are Microsoft Word files.

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Team Challenge 2005
20th March 2005

Under 15

Gary Fox Stephanie James
Ross Little Emily Miller
Michael Mellor Nicola Poole
Daniel Wolfenden Holly Richards

Lancashire's under 15s played their biggest team event of the year on Sunday 13th March in Luton.  The Team Challenge Finals brought together the best 12 counties in the country after qualifying rounds in December (see story below, dated 20th December 2004).

Everyone had travelled down the night before, and it was worth having local knowledge as the Pizza Express in Harpenden was a great place to eat.  So, refreshed from a good night's sleep, we went straight into the action, first up against a Sussex side with some handy players.  In a format of 7 games there can be no draws, so getting to the magical 4 games is the objective.  Luke Thomson & Bronwyn Powell proved too strong for us at first mixed, but Ross & Emily pulled off a gritty 15-13 win at second.  Danny & Holly worked hard at third, but a really close game got away 12-15.  Ross then played Luke in the singles and could not find his form as Luke recorded a win that was untypical of Ross's normal high quality singles.  With Holly pitted against Bronwyn the games were lost, though we finished on a high with terrific wins in both level doubles.  Result: 4-3 to Sussex.

The team then showed their real talent against Essex, a group winner from the qualifiers.  Michael & Emily recorded a great win against a quality first mixed of Andrew Brunning and Rosie Hutton, winning 15-8.  With the other two mixed slipping away the singles and levels needed to redeem 3 games.  Danny played a valiant singles but went down 9-15 to Andrew.  Steph then played really well, taking her singles to 6.  Our formidable pair of Gary & Michael dispatched their levels pair to 7, then Emily & Nicola battled all the way and took their levels 15-12.  Result: 4-3 to Lancs.  With all teams in the group bar Yorkshire looking evenly matched, the battle was on for qualification to the top group.

Without Alyssa Lim, Bucks were not the team they threatened to be on paper, and the Lancs players were now in full flight, chalking up a deserved 6-1 win.  Michael enjoyed his best display as he notched up a 15-9 singles win against Xavier Bramley, then teamed up with Emily to grab first mixed 15-14 against Xavier and Munn-Tzin Bong.

Yorkshire, with a superb array of talent on court, recorded a 7-0 win against us, though Gary & Ross played one of the games of the day, losing 14-15 to Richard Morris & Chris Allen - a real epic!  Needing as many games as possible, given that Essex had done us a favour by beating Sussex 4-3, our final match in the group saw us notch up a 7-0 win against Dorset.  Steph had a titanic struggle in her singles, with intervention needed from the referee over the score and calming from the team manager, before coming out on top 15-11.  Our game chase was not quite enough, however, as Sussex recorded enough games against Bucks to give them second place in the group by virtue of two more games scored (tied on 3 matches each).  Lancs did, though, beat Essex by one game, Essex also tied on 3 matches.

This put us in the second group (for 5th-8th place) and, rather than tiring, the players showed their fitness and pushed Herts all the way.  All three mixed went to the same 15-13 score, with Lancs grabbing second through Ross & Holly, and third through Gary & NicolaEmily lost her only match of the day, playing at first with MichaelRoss played James Reynolds in the singles and so nearly grabbed a great win, just missing out 13-15.  With Herts taking two of the other three games the match went their way 4-3.

The final match, against Kent, and a battle for 6th place, might have lacked meaning for some, but the players kept their best for last, recording an excellent 5-2 win.  Danny lost an epic singles to Toby Sweet 14-15, having been dead and buried at the turn.  And Steph played as if her life depended on it in the girls singles, grabbing a 15-13 win after trailing all the way.  So sixth result overall - not a bad achievement given the 30 other counties that started out at the qualifying stage.  There was no real difference between 3rd place and 8th place, as Sussex, whom Lancs had lost to so narrowly at the start of the day, finished 3rd overall to Yorkshire and Notts.  Well played team, and thanks to the parents for your support at all stages.

b_l15tc3.jpg (58046 bytes) Lancashire U15 Team
Back: Ross Little, Michael Mellor, Gary Fox, Daniel Wolfenden
Fron
t:  Holly Richards, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole, Stephanie James
b_l15tc4.jpg (56942 bytes) Parents
Back: Derek Wolfenden, Karen Wolfenden, Eileen Little, Tom Richards
Front: Alistair Poole, Ernie Mellor, Dave Miller, Clive James
(Anne Fox was camera shy so took the photo!)
b_l15tc5.jpg (48770 bytes) Winners Yorkshire
Representatives Gabbi White and Daniel Shiels

Dave Miller
Team Manager

Under 13

Philip Aspinall Steph Hall
Kristian Byrne Becky Hurst
Michael Johnston Lizzy Balmforth
Tom Wolfenden Sarah Kenny

In the U13 Team Challenge final on 12th March Lancashire recorded a phenomenal second place overall, just missing out to Yorkshire in the final group by 6 points in a tied match 3-3.

b_l13tc4.jpg (56775 bytes) Lancashire U13 Team
Back: Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Tom Wolfenden, Michael Johnston
Fron
t:  Lizzy Balmforth, Steph Hall, Becky Hurst, Sarah Kenny
b_l13tc5.jpg (48711 bytes)
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U14s Third In North Midway
16th March 2005

Jack McKay Sarah Kenny
Johnny Phillips Becky Hurst
Abigail Kay Jonathan Simpson
Rosie Sweeney Andrew Owen

Lancashire's U14s played the second leg of the North Midway League on Sunday 6th March.  The team did very well over the whole day with good performances throughout earning third place out of the eight competing counties.

The players had clear and comfortable victories against Durham, Warwickshire and Northumberland, losing only to strong Yorkshire and Leicestershire squads in the final stage.  Jack McKay, Johnny Phillips, Becky Hurst and Sarah Kenny were particularly successful in their singles encounters whilst Abigail Kay, Rosie Sweeney, Jonathan Simpson and Andrew Owen showed just how much progress they had each made since October and gave us real strength in depth in the doubles matches.  There were plenty of excellent individual performances, but it was a team working together and supporting each other that really caught the eye. Well done to all!

b_l14nm3.jpg (56354 bytes) Lancashire U14 Team
Back: Rosie Sweeney, Abigail Kay, Sarah Kenny, Becky Hurst
Fron
t:  Jonathan Simpson, Andrew Owen, Johnny Phillips, Jack McKay
b_l14nm4.jpg (61533 bytes)

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Lancashire Win U14 Anglo-Scottish - 19th/20th February 2005
25th February 2005

Twelve counties from across England and Scotland met in Gateshead to compete for the 19th U14 Anglo-Scottish Team Tournament.  It was a weekend of top quality badminton, which Lancashire was entering for the first time.  And what a debut it was, with Lancashire winning the competition!!

The competition started on Saturday at 11:30am.  The twelve counties were split into four boxes of three teams.  Each box had a seeded county, Lancashire being one of the seeds.  Each match consisted of ten games played to 21 points.  Our first match was against Cumbria which proved to be a gentle introduction to the competition, winning the match 10 games to 0.  One notable victory was by Nicola Poole, who totally outplayed World Class Start player Lauren Smith, beating her 21-5.  Second match was against Lanarkshire which again was a relatively easy match with Lancashire coming out on top by 9 games to 1.

With the first round boxes finished, the next rounds were a different ball game altogether.  Each of the winning teams from all four boxes were grouped together to play off for the top four places: these were Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lothian and Ayrshire.  The Anglo-Scottish contest was still very much alive!!  Last match for us on Saturday was against Ayrshire.  Philip Aspinall & Kristian Byrne won both boys singles, whilst Danny Wolfenden & Emily Miller and Michael Johnston & Sarah Kenny won their mixed doubles.  The remaining six games were split, giving Lancashire a 7 games to 3 win.

With the day’s play over, all that remained was to find the hotels.  Like lambs to the slaughter most of us followed Derek Wolfenden who said “follow me I know the way”.  I can honestly say that I have never seen the same stretch of the A1 as many times in such a short space of time.  Thanks Derek!!

First match on Sunday was against Leicestershire, who had beaten Lothian in their last match the day before.  First games on were the boys singles.  The way Philip & Kristian had been playing on Saturday, we decided to take a gamble by playing them in the singles again.  The gamble paid off: Philip beat Nayan Patel 21-18 and Kristian beat Avinash Chandarana 21-14.  The excellent results didn’t stop there: Danny & Emily and Michael & Sarah took both mixed doubles.  Nicola was on form again to take the 1st girls singles against Vinita Bhakta.  Steph Hall played an epic singles against Chelsea White winning 21-20.  Danny & Jack McKay took the 2nd boys doubles and Nicola & Becky Hurst took the second girls doubles.  The match result ended 8 games to 2, a score that was beyond all expectations.

Due to the other match results in the group, we were already champions without playing the final match (a fact we omitted to tell the players!!).  Last match was against Lothian which proved to be the toughest match of the weekend.  The final score was 5 games all but we took the victory by a slender 4 points which meant we were unbeaten all weekend.  Thanks to all the players for 100% effort and also thanks to all the parents for their support.  Particular thanks to Dave Miller for helping with the tactical team selections over the weekend.

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b_l14as5.jpg (63929 bytes)

b_l14as1.jpg (54619 bytes)

Lancashire's U14 winning team (names in order of centre picture)
Danny Wolfenden, Jack McKay, Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Michael Johnston, Steph Hall, Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Sarah Kenny, Nicola Poole

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

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U17 Shires Match v Flintshire - 20th February 2005
21st February 2005

When we arrived at the venue it was to find that Flintshire were without a 4th girl which meant that Holly Richards, who had agreed to stand in, would only play one girls doubles and we would start the match with three games.  Flintshire were rather an unknown quantity although they had beaten Cheshire and Derbyshire.  The match went well in a rather cold hall with a slippery floor.  Five of the matches went to three sets with three going in our favour.  Tom Huggon and Paul Maguire had a tight 3-setter but came out on top 15-12 in the 3rd.  Charlotte Hall seemed to be struggling when she lost her first game 11-2 but she figured out her opponent in the 2nd and won 11-0 in the 3rd.  The final score - an 18-2 win.

b_l17fl.jpg (67220 bytes) Lancashire's U17 Team v Flintshire
Back: Dave Kenny, Paul Maguire, Jamie Fairclough, Tom Huggon, Darren Hosegood
Front:
Holly Richards, Amanda Barrett, Charlotte Hall, Kirstin Miller

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Yorkshire Still The County To Beat
16th February 2005

None of Lancashire's 3 Shires teams could muster wins in their Shires matches against Yorkshire recently, but there were some excellent individual performances.  Both counties had top players involved elsewhere for each match, but this gave opportunities for others to play.

The U15s, after a recent 17-3 win against Shropshire, went down 18-2 to a decent Yorkshire team.  The team of Alex DuNoyer, Mark McKay, Lee Clayton, Guy Mullarkey, Nicola Poole, Steph James, Emily Miller and Holly Richards played some superb games and could easily have taken more away.  Guy and Nicola took 4th mixed 17-16, 15-9 at the start of the match, with the only other win coming right at the end when Alex and Lee won their cross-over mens 15-12, 15-13 - a fitting way to finish the match.  Other notable performances came from Lee and Holly (going down at 3rd mixed 13-15, 10-15), Alex in a really close 1st singles (losing 8-15, 16-17) and Guy at 4th (losing 15-12, 8-15, 12-15).  Nicola, at 1st singles, got as close to Chloe Chambers as any Lancs player for some time (going down 9-11, 11-13) whilst Steph lost in 3 at 2nd singles (8-11, 11-7, 3-11).

The U13s were well beaten in their Yorkshire encounter, hindered by only having 7 players on the day due to a mix up.  However, they have already qualified for the Shires final, beating Cheshire 15-5 three weeks earlier - thanks to Derek & Karen Wolfenden for organising the team on the day.  Well done.

In the U17 Yorkshire match at Rotherham, Lancashire started off the day without Laura Walsh and Dave Kenny and faced a strong Yorkshire team who had 4 of their U17 players playing elsewhere.  Paul Maguire and Amanda Barrett had a very tight mixed which they finally lost 14-17, 15-17, whilst Jamie Fairclough and Kirstin Miller had a long 3 setter which they won 15-11 in the 3rd.  Tom Huggon and Charlotte Hall had a comfortable 15-6, 15-11 win.  The singles did not go our way although Darren Hosegood had an excellent and well deserved 15-2, 15-10 win against Daniel Adams.  Jamie fought hard against Ian Mercer but lost in 3.  The Yorkshire pairings were strong and it was only Darren and Tom who managed a win of 15-5, 16-17, 15-13 against the 2nd pair.

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U17 RIO
31st January 2005

Michael Dorans Amanda Barrett
Jamie Fairclough Charlotte Hall
Darren Hosegood Emily Miller
Tom Huggon Kirstin Miller
Dave Kenny Steph Taylor
Paul Maguire Laura Walsh

The 2005 U17 Railway Institute Octagonal (RIO) event in York got underway just after 10 a.m. on Saturday 22nd January.  The prior coaching arranged by team manager, Dorothy Barrett, seemed to have paid off, with players pulling together both on and off court.  The first match against eventual runners-up, Herts, was a tough call, but playing them first warmed everyone up for the matches against Lothian and Surrey.  Herts got away 3-12, but 8-7 and 9-6 wins put the team in the top group for Sunday.  The Lothian match was the crucial match with several tight games.  Laura was well down in her singles against Megan Barbour but managed to fight back to win 21-20, whilst Amanda and Emily played a good 2nd girls doubles.

The evening back at the hotel was a good time for everyone to relax, setting us up nicely for our encounter with Yorkshire ... the 3-12 result didn't reflect the team's performance against the eventual winners.  Amanda and Dave won a nail biting mixed doubles 21-20, Paul won an amazing 1st boys singles against Ian Mercer 21-15 and Tom and Michael won at 3rd boys doubles 21-14.  Our final match against Notts was tough but Dave and Emily started off well winning 1st mixed 21-11, closely followed by a win from Michael and Charlotte.  Darren won his singles against Will Simpson 21-14 and we were 3-1 up.  Kirstin and Emily played an excellent girls doubles, Tom and Michael won at 3rd boys doubles, but unfortunately Notts were too strong and their 10-5 win gave the team overall 4th place and just out of the medals, a creditable performance indeed.

The standard of play at RIO is some of the best junior badminton in the country and Lancashire showed that they can perform well.  This will carry the team forward to the ICT in March with some confidence.  Well done everyone.

b_l17rio.jpg (54702 bytes) Lancashire's U17 RIO Team
Back: Dave Kenny, Paul Maguire, Michael Dorans, Jamie Fairclough, Tom Huggon, Darren Hosegood
Front:
Charlotte Hall, Steph Taylor, Laura Walsh, Emily Miller, Amanda Barrett, Kirstin Miller

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Rotherham Success For U16s
24th January 2005

The U16s played the second leg of the North Midway League at Rotherham on Sunday 16th January (see report below dated 9th November 2004 for report on first day).  It was a great success for Lancashire, with the 1st team winning on the day and also winning the two-day league after a countback with Yorkshire 1 of total games won, whilst the 2nd team played their way into 6th place with some outstanding performances.

Chris Brown went through both days of the competition without dropping a game - 20 games of badminton - whilst Tom Dickinson dropped only one to a very strong Cheshire first singles.  Chris & Tom were run very close in the final game of the day, against the Yorkshire first pair, coming back from 7-14 down to clinch the game 15-14 and a 6-4 win for the team.  The 1st team dominated their round-robin group, recording two 10-0 and two 9-1 wins to set up the return clash with Yorkshire in the final.  Lee Clayton played some particularly good games, showing a marked improvement in his game.

While Lancs 1 were steamrolling all who had the misfortune to stand in their way, the county was showing what great strength in depth it now has with the terriffic performance of Lancs 2.  A final finish of 6th really didn't tell the full story of how well the team played.

The performance against Yorkshire 1 epitomised their fighting spirit where Alex DuNoyer and Mark McKay stunned the home team by both winning their singles matches and Alex Byrne & Abigail South stormed to victory in a fantastic mixed doubles (did the Yorkies not like that!!!)

Tough matches against IOM, Notts, Northumberland and particularly the "decider" against Cheshire brought the best out of all the team.  Stephanie James won all but one of her singles matches - an amazing days work for the team's number one girl.  Laura Barker strolled through her singles against Notts - likewise did Rob Sykes and Alex DuNoyer in their doubles against IOM.

The amazing spirit of this team was probably best displayed when Gemma Wilkinson was eventually persuaded to throw herself into the singles arena and gave an excellent Cheshire girl the fright of her life by pushing her all the way.  The play-off match against Cheshire ended even with Lancs 2 falling to 6th only on a points count-back.

Lancs 1 were probably very pleased that they didn't have to play their "understudies"!!

Well done to all the players, and thank you to the parents and other supporters for making the Lancs camp a pleasure to be part of.

b_l16nm3.jpg (53991 bytes) Lancashire's Two Teams
Back: Robert Sykes, Mark McKay, Tom Dickinson, Richard Dundas, Lee Clayton, Chris Brown, Alex DuNoyer (Alex Byrne not on photo)
Front: Abigail South, Laura Barker, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole, Holly Richards, Kirstin Miller, Gemma Wilkinson, Steph James
b_l16nm4.jpg (53769 bytes) 1st Team - North Midway U16 League Winners
Back: Tom Dickinson, Richard Dundas, Lee Clayton, Chris Brown
Front: Kirstin Miller, Emily Miller, Holly Richards, Nicola Poole

By Dave Miller and Terry McKay

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Lancs U11 & U12 Update
23rd January 2005

Leicester Invitation U12 Doubles - 16th October 2004

In the initial round-robin group our girls, Elizabeth Balmford & Annabel Leather, lost only one out of six games, losing to the Herts pair E Westwood & A Bursack, consequently coming runners-up in their group.  Unfortunately in the first knock-out round they were beaten by eventual winners A Scarlet & H Smith. from Durham.

The Lancashire boys were represented by James Abdous & Peter Athans and Tom Wolfenden & Robbie MacDonald.  In the round-robin James & Peter lost a very exciting final game against Avon by 14-15, which gave Avon runners-up and  Lancashire 3rd place.  Robbie & Tom were runners-up in their group, losing only one game 14-15 to the Yorkshire pair O Cohen & S Thomson.  In the quarter final they beat  F Miles & R McCarthy (Herts) 15-7 and they won a tense semi final against the Lincolnshire pair H Towler & R Annis.  To finish, the boys played a return match against their groups winners Cohen & Thompson, taking revenge with a convincing 15-4 win and thus taking the title.  Well done everyone, and especially well done to Tom & Robbie on winning this national tournament.

North Midway U12 Team Event - 14th November 2004

Team members:

Annabel Leather Matthew Wright
Danya Lewis Peter Athans
Heather Poole Sam Clucas
Rachel Poole Sam Moss

Our first match against Yorkshire 2 was a see-saw event.  It was not decided until the last mixed doubles, when Rachel Poole & Sam Clucas won a nail biting game 15-13 to clinch the match 6-4.  Our next match, against Cheshire, we won convincingly 8-2.  This promoted us to the top set but both Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire proved too strong on the day, beating us 7-3 and 8-2 respectively, placing us in third place.  However the second day in February will give us a chance to reverse these defeats.  All the team gave their all and a special mention must go to the partnership of Matthew Wright & Peter Athens who won all but one of their doubles games, losing 14-15 to the Notts pair of D Godfrey & F Lyma.

North Midway Primary School Age Team Event - 28th November 2004

Team members:

Amy Shovelton (first rep) Andrew Cardus (first rep)
Caroline Dawid-Paluch (first rep) Jack Riley
Rachel Chung (first rep) Peter Athans
Rebecca Mayers (first rep) Tom Vinen (first rep)

We started with a win against Yorkshire 1 by taking the mixed doubles 15-11 & 15-4 respectively, played by Rebecca & Tom and Rachel & Andrew.  Our next two matches, against Warwickshire and Cheshire, we found difficult against experienced opposition.  However we finished with two victories, against Yorkshire 2 and Leicestershire, both 7-3 results.  The team finished the day fifth out of eight counties, a creditable result considering the number of inexperienced players who rose to the challenge.  Peter Athans played with great aptitude and sportsmanship and is now being considered for the world class squad.

Jeff Johnson
U11 & U12 Manager

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U17 Shires News
17th January 2005

Shires Match (Away) v Cheshire - 14th November 2004

Tension was high as our U17s faced their 1st match of the season – against old rivals Cheshire.  There was lots of team spirit as the team warmed up and prepared for the first mixed matches.  3 of the 4 mixed matches went to 3 sets.  Darren Hosegood and Steph Taylor fought hard but narrowly lost to Richard Morrissey and Zara Rahman 15-10 in the 3rd.  Dave Kenny and Amanda Barrett took a marathon 1 hour and 10 minutes to beat Alex Bright and Gillian Dabek 15-12 in the third, and Michael Dorans and Charlotte Hall won their game in 2 sets 15-0, 15-7.  What a great start, 2-2 after the mixed.

Lancashire carried on in a winning streak with Jamie Fairclough, Tom Huggon and Paul Maguire all winning their singles.  Laura Walsh won her singles beating Gill Dabek 11-4 in the 3rd (Laura's first win against Gill for quite a while).  Amanda beat Zara (for the first time ever) 11-5 in the third and Charlotte won her singles convincingly 11-6, 11-5.   The score was now 8-4 to Lancs with 8 matches of level doubles to play.  Dave and Jamie won both their doubles with Alex and Richard taking them to 3 sets and Michael and Tom won 1 and lost 1.  In the girls Cheshire's 1st couple of Gill and Zara proved too strong, winning both their matches but Laura and Amanda took the 2nd girls doubles.

The final score - 12-8 to Lancashire.

Shires Match (Away) v Staffordshire - 19th December 2004

We got off to a flying start in the mixed doubles, picking up 3 of the 4 matches.  In the boys and girls singles hopes were high – then Tom Huggon’s trainers fell apart, the floor was slippy and a bit of bad luck – and only 2 matches were won out of 8.  Amanda beat V. Slobodyuk (11-9, 11-1) and Michael Olstowski beat C. Owen (15-1, 15-1).  Staffordshire were leading 7-5 with the level doubles still to play.  Dave and Jamie fought hard in long games and managed to win both in 3 setters.  Darren and Michael fought hard against the 2nd couple but narrowly lost 15-13 in the 3rd.  Amanda and Laura won both girls doubles but Charlotte and Kirstin Miller narrowly lost out against the 2nd couple 17-16 in the 3rd.

The final score - 11-9 to Staffordshire.

Shires Match (Home) v Derbyshire - 16th January 2005

Our 1st home match got off to a good start with all 4 mixed doubles won in convincing style, followed by wins in all the boys singles and 3 of the girls singles.  In the boys doubles Dave and Paul conceded the first game 13-15, fought back in the second 15-12 and won the 3rd in confident style 15-5 and then went on the beat the 2nd couple.  Michael D and Michael O won both their games convincingly in 2 sets (against the 2nd couple 15-10, 15-2 and against the first 15-3, 15-5).

Laura and Steph beat the 1st pair  in quite a close match 15-12, 17-14 and then went on to beat the 2nd couple 15-7, 15-8.  Amanda and Charlotte beat the 2nd couple 15-3, 15-8 and then the 1st 15-6, 15-6.

The final score - 19-1 to Lancashire.

b_l17drby.jpg (59400 bytes) Lancashire's U17 Team v Derbyshire
Back: Michael Olstowski, Paul Maguire, Michael Dorans, Dave Kenny
Front: Charlotte Hall, Stephanie Taylor, Laura Walsh, Amanda Barrett

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Team Challenge Qualifier Success for U13s and U15s
20th December 2004

The U13s and U15s came through the qualifiers in the Team Challenge (the biggest team event of the year at U13 and U15) with wins in both ages.

U13 - Steve Aspinall, Team Manager, reports:

With the competition due to start at 10:00 in the morning, I set off in plenty of time.  The team sheets were already completed the night before, paperwork ready ... all organised, or so I thought!!  At 09:20 the mobile rang - one player was unable to get there due to car problems - who do you ring at such short notice to fill in??  After several urgent phone calls I was running out of options, but, thanks to Anne Byrne, we managed to recruit Olivia Hadley.  Anne picked her up and took her to Macclesfield for 12:15.  We managed to get a full team together for three out of the four matches.  A fantastic effort from Anne and a great contribution from Olivia.

Fortunately our first match was against Derbyshire, who were unable to match us in all games.  With one player down we still managed a convincing victory of 5 games to 1.  Olivia arrived just in time to play in the second match against Cumbria.  In her debut match with partner Becky they won the game 21-13.  The rest of the team had convincing wins with a match score of 6-0.

The third match was against Cheshire.  With Philip, Kristian and Lizzy winning their singles (Becky drew the short straw of having to play Hayley Rogers - sorry Becky) the score was 3 games to 1.  Steph & Olivia came so close to victory narrowly losing 21-19, whilst Tom & Michael had to play Matthew Nottingham & Richard Bergh - they put up a good fight losing 21-8.  The match finished level on games at 3-3 but, with the greater points total, Lancashire came out on top.

The final game was against Staffordshire which ended in a 4-2 victory for Lancashire.  Lancashire qualify in first place with Cheshire second.  Next stop Luton on 12th March 2005.

Lancashire U13 Team
Back: Steph Hall, Lizzy Balmforth, Becky Hurst, Olivia Hadley
Front:
Kristian Byrne, Tom Wolfenden, Philip Aspinall, Michael Johnston

U15 - Dave Miller, Team Manager, reports:

An event changes when you know the opposition see you as one of the favourites for the day and are planning on playing their best format against you to try to get a result!  Mind you, with players like Ross Little, Michael Mellor and Gary Fox in the team we have every right to look to win matches, and the whole team didn't disappoint.  The opening match against Derbyshire set the tone for the day with a 7-0 win (the U15 format has a boys and girls singles, boys and girls levels and 3 mixed).  Next, Shropshire - they put their strength in the levels to take the girls and then played well to win first mixed, but the match was taken 5-2.  Cumbria were next through the Lancashire mill ... 7-0.

With Staffordshire and Cheshire in the last two matches, these should be the tough encounters deciding the placings.  It didn't quite turn out that way as the players demolished first Staffs and then Cheshire by the same score, 6-1.

It is hard to pick outstanding individual performances from such a good all round performance - Danny, Nicola, Emily, Holly and Steph showed Lancashire's strength in depth.  It was good to see Steph James back in the fold and playing quality badminton.  The team spirit on the day was fantastic and this must give us a head start when we head for the finals on 13th March.  Well done team.  Staffordshire came runners up and also qualify.

b_l15tc1.jpg (63132 bytes) Lancashire U15 Team
Back: Danny Wolfenden, Gary Fox, Michael Mellor, Steph James
Front: Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Ross Little, Holly Richards
b_l15tc2.jpg (57450 bytes)

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U13 & U15 Shires vs Flintshire
14th November 2004

Lancashire juniors came across a new opponent in Flintshire for this Shires match.  The U13s opened their Shires account in great style with a crushing 20-0 win.  The team was: Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Michael Johnston, Tom Wolfenden, Robbie McDonald, Steph Hall, Becky Hurst, Lizzie Balmforth, Sarah Kenny.

The U15s were equally impressive with a 17-3 win.  Everyone played at their best to take some excellent wins - the final score showed how well the team performed against very capable opponents.  Gary Fox had a very pleasing win at first boys singles, beating Damian Renshaw 15-11, 15-5, whilst Abigail South marked her debut with an impressive 11-3, 13-10 win at fourth girls singles.  Gary & Danny Wolfenden and Richard Dundas & Mark McKay won all four level doubles (including cross-overs) with each pair looking as if they had played together for years!  Nicola Poole & Emily Miller and Holly Richards & Abigail took 3 of the 4 girls levels, with Holly & Abigail almost grabbing a game off a strong Flints first pair.

Well done everyone and, as always, thank you to parents and supporters of both our teams.  I think you'll agree that our younger players are a pleasure to watch!

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U14 North Midway (Rotherham)
13th November 2004

Team

Jack McKay Sarah Kenny
Johnny Phillips Becky Hurst
Jonathan Simpson Abigail Kay
Andrew Owen Rosie Sweeney

Lancashire's U14 team played in the North Midway League on Sunday 17th October.  The team included four members wearing the red rose shirt for the first time: Abi, Rosie, Jonathan and Andrew. They soon showed their worth with some determined play and thoroughly enjoyed their first competitive fixture.

Lancashire won their matches against Cheshire and Durham, drew with Warwickshire and Yorkshire 'B', with only one 4-6 at the hands of Nottinghamshire.  There were many excellent performances by individuals and pairs.  Becky, Jack, Johnny and Sarah showed skill and talent in their singles matches, as well as good doubles performances.  Andy and Jonathan showed real grit, particularly in their level doubles matches, whilst Abigail and Rosie played with increasing confidence in each match and won some hard fought battles.  They were all excellent ambassadors for their county and will be looking forward to future opportunities.

b_l14nm1.jpg (51195 bytes) Lancashire U14 Team
Back: Rosie Sweeney, Abigail Kay, Sarah Kenny, Becky Hurst
Fron
t: Johnny Phillips, Andrew Owen, Jonathan Simpson, Jack McKay
b_l14nm2.jpg (50145 bytes)

John Phillips
Team Manager

Footnote: Thank you to John Phillips and Mark Kenny for stepping in to take charge of the team after the teams had arrived at the venue.  The manager had not been arranged in advance - many, many thanks for your input.

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U16s North Midway (Rotherham)
9th November 2004

The U16s took two teams to the North Midway League at Rotherham on Sunday 31st October.  The first team played outstanding badminton all day, winning their group matches 9-1 (Notts), 9-1 (Northumberland), 9-1 (Yorkshire 2) and 10-0 (Warwickshire).  In the deciding match for the top two places they lost out 4-6 to Yorkshire 1.  Tom Dickinson and Chris Brown did not drop a game all day, with Kirstin and Emily Miller winning all five level doubles together, including an excellent 15-14 win against Yorkshire's top pair.

The second team played some excellent badminton, with group results of 4-6 (Durham), a 5-5 losing draw by a single point (Leicestershire), 0-10 (Yorkshire 1) and 7-3 (Cheshire).  A statistical error put them in a 7th / 8th place play off, which they won 7-3 against Yorkshire 2 ... they should actually have played off for 5th / 6th, a creditable performance indeed.

There was a great team spirit all day, with the 16 players getting on really well together.  Thanks go to all the parents and drivers who made the trip over the Pennines to Herringthorpe.

Joe Wong
Team Manager

b_l16nm1.jpg (64821 bytes) Lancashire U16 Team 1
Back: Richard Dundas, Lee Clayton, Chris Brown, Tom Dickinson
Front: Holly Richards, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Kirstin Miller
b_l16nm2.jpg (60821 bytes) Lancashire U16 Team 2
Back: Alex Byrne, Alex DuNoyer, Mark McKay, Robert Sykes
Front:Lucinda Wing, Katherine Wong, Stephanie James, Laura Barker 

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Cheshire Fall To U15s In Shires
24th October 2004

The Under 15s got off to a flying start against Cheshire in the Shires league on Sunday 17th October.  The match, played in Bolton, ended 18-2, with the two lost events getting away by the narrowest 2 games to 1.  Gary Fox & Emily Miller, Michael Mellor & Nicola Poole, Ross Little & Steph Hall, Richard Dundas & Holly Richards all took their mixed in 2 games, with Pippa Rogers holding out the only defence for Cheshire in the singles (though Nicola did really well going down 7-11 in the third).

The boys gave only 13 points away in 8 games of level doubles (pairs crossing over making 4 events) showing how dominant they were.  Emily & Steph won a great tussle with Pippa and Kathleen Turner in the girls, taking the second and third games to 15-13, having lost the first.  Nicola & Holly so nearly did the same in the cross over event, just losing out 14-17 in the third.

A good afternoon, with the team showing some great early team spirit.  Well done - may it continue on!

Dave Miller
Team Manager

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2004 Lancashire Restricted
24th September 2004

Under 16

The Lancashire U16 Restricted tournament took place at Burscough Sports Centre on Saturday 25th September.  There was a large entry and the courts were full from 11am until 6pm, with the final hour having to take place in the 'small hall' with a low roof!  The standard of play was exceptional, with some outstanding contests. Gary Fox added an unusual trophy to his cabinet, taking the singles (yes, SINGLES!) title, though he had to use all his match play experience, coming through his first round against Lee Clayton 17-15, his semi against Chris Brown 17-15, and then battling to take out Tom Dickinson in the final 21-16.

Tom Dickinson had the best return of the day.  After his singles final loss, he returned wins in the mens and mixed doubles.  In the mens he and Chris Brown beat Gary Fox and Alex DuNoyer 21-4, then Tom played with Steph Hall in the mixed to beat Gary and Kirstin Miller 21-12.

Nicola Poole was a step ahead of the rest of the girls in the singles, winning the trophy in superb style. She played 6 matches (each one game to 15) giving only 27 points away in the process, beating Lucinda Wing in the final.  In the girls doubles, Kirstin Miller and Emily Miller overcame an early loss to Laura Barker and Abigail South 13-15 to win the rest of their games, taking the final 21-14 against Holly Richards and Lucinda Wing.

It was good to see plate events offering competition for first round losers in both the boys singles and mixed doubles, with Robert Sykes playing really well to win the boys singles, and Alex Byrne and Katherine Wong winning the mixed plate in style.

Every player contributed to an enjoyable days badminton, with one last award, for the Player of the Tournament, going to Robert Sykes, an award given for outstanding effort, potential and attitude to the game.  Well done everyone.

To view all U16 results from the day click here.  (Use the tabs at the foot of the screen to view the different events.  Click the 'Back' button to return to this screen.)

Under 14

The Lancashire U14 Restricted tournament took place at Burscough Sports Centre on Saturday 18th September.  In the singles Robbie McDonald went through his group unbeaten, losing to Tom Wolfenden in the semi-final.  Tom came second in Jack McKay's group, with Jack beating Tom in the final to take the trophy. Jack showed how much he has improved in the last 6 months, going unbeaten all day until the last match, when he and Steph Hall lost the mixed final to Michael Johnston and Emily Miller.  Jack and Michael had a close run thing in the boys doubles, just squeezing past eventual runners-up, Robbie McDonald and James Abdous, 23-21.

Emily Miller and Steph Hall took the ladies doubles title for the second year running, showing their dominance in levels.  Steph also took the girls singles, though Lizzie Balmforth ran her all the way in a 21-18 final.

The winners trophies were evenly split, with four players gaining two events each: Jack McKay, Steph Hall, Michael Johnston and Emily Miller.  Well done to all 20 players on the day, including Richard Walker who won the Player of the Tournament trophy for his positive attitude, unstinting effort and clear potential.  Thomas Kennington, Andrew Owen and Roseanna Sweeney also impressed and, if they stay keen, will be names to look out for.

UNDER 16 Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Gary Fox Tom Dickinson
Girls Singles Nicola Poole Lucinda Wing
Boys Doubles Tom Dickinson & Chris Brown Gary Fox & Alex DuNoyer
Girls Doubles Kirstin Miller & Emily Miller Holly Richards & Lucinda Wing
Mixed Doubles Tom Dickinson & Steph Hall Gary Fox & Kirstin Miller
Player of the Tournament    
UNDER 14 Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Jack McKay Tom Wolfenden
Girls Singles Steph Hall Lizzy Balmforth
Boys Doubles Jack McKay & Michael Johnston Robbie McDonald & James Abdous
Girls Doubles Emily Miller & Steph Hall Becky Hurst & Lizzy Balmforth
Mixed Doubles Michael Johnston & Emily Miller Jack McKay & Steph Hall
Player of the Tournament Richard Walker

In the absence of the top ranked county players in the U14, this was still an excellent competition and gave other players the opportunity to shine and remind us of the strength in depth that the county is developing.

b_c14c.jpg (55255 bytes) Lancashire U14 Restricted trophy winners
Back: Tom Wolfenden, Michael Johnston, James Abdous, Emily Miller, Becky Hurst
Front: Robbie McDonald, Jack McKay, Steph Hall, Lizzy Balmforth

No results have been made available for the U12 tournament - apologies for this.  If anyone knows the results please pass on the details.

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York U13 Team Mixed
19th June 2004

Lancashire's U13s proved what a brilliant season they have just left behind, winning the York U13 "Cerryg Davies" Team Mixed on Saturday 12th June.  Played at the York Railway Institute, the team edged out Yorkshire by 2 points, and finished tied with Lothian to share the shield.  Four Lancashire pairs entered the invitation event, which sees every pair finish with a rank from 1 to 27.  With 27 points awarded for finishing first, 26 points for second and so on until 1 point for finishing 27th, Lancashire took a creditable 80 points.

Three of the pairs finished in the top 7, with Kristian and Steph having an exceptional day to take 4th place.  Michael and Becky took the trophy by winning the section for players in the bottom half after the initial round robin stage, though it could not have been closer as they saved two match points in the final match before winning 21-20.  That result (and many other gritty performances) secured the team their tied 1st place.  It goes to show how important every game by every pair is in team competitions.  Well played.

Kristian Byrne (Crosby) & Steph Hall (Southport)

4th

Daniel Wolfenden (Maghull) & Emily Miller (Southport) 6th
Philip Aspinall (Blackburn) & Nicola Poole (Formby) 7th
Michael Johnston (Crosby) & Becky Hurst (Maghull) 15th

Click on the images below to see enlargements.  Click the 'back' button to return to this page.

b_c13ymix4.JPG (55500 bytes) Lancashire U13 Team
Back: Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Steph Hall, Nicola Poole
Front: Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Danny Wolfenden, Michael Johnston
b_c13ymix3.JPG (45891 bytes) Lancashire and Lothian players collect the winners shield from Sue Foster
b_c13ymix2.JPG (45870 bytes) Overall winning pair from Lothian
b_c13ymix1.JPG (54507 bytes) Danny Wolfenden shows his support for England, with the European Championship football about to start ... or is he just nuts!
b_c13ymix5.JPG (61296 bytes)

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U11 Northern Singles Champions
20th May 2004

Despite playing with two girls missing from the start, Lancashire's team are the Northern U11 Singles Champions for 2004.

In the first round, three of our players won their individual groups and the remaining three players were runners up in other groups.  In the second round, it was unfortunate that the draw placed three of the Lancashire boys in the same group.  Nonetheless, all four boys and both the girls reached the play-offs, where five of the six players each won their final game to earn vital extra points for the team.

Although Yorkshire boys and Durham girls also played well, it was Lancashire which deservedly collected the overall team trophy and Tom Wolfenden who won the individual boys trophy.

Four of the team now go on to represent the North of England and the other two players are first reserves for the boys and girls.  Congratulations to our champion U11 junior team of Danya Lewis, Annabel Leather, Tom Wolfenden, Robbie Macdonald, Matthew Wright and Peter Athans.

Under 11 Team
Top: Matthew Wright, Tom Wolfenden, Danya Lewis
Bottom: Robbie Macdonald, Peter Athans, Annabel Leather

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York U12s
30th April 2004

Lancashire were winners of the Yorkshire Under 12 Team Tournament, beating Yorkshire and Surrey into 2nd and 3rd places.

Under 12 Team
Top: Tom Wolfenden, Michael Johnston, Philip Aspinall, Matthew Wright, Robbie MacDonald, Kristian Byrne
Bottom: Sarah Kenny, Stephanie Hall, Becky Hurst, Lizzie Balmforth, Danya Lewis, Annabel Leather

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Lancs 12th in Prestigious ICT
28th April 2004

Boys Girls
Tom Dunlop Amy Ashrafi
Darren Hosegood Amanda Barrett
Tom Huggon Maddie Harrison
Alasdair McCorkindale Steph Taylor
James Mullarkey Laura Walsh

Thirty seven counties gathered at Nottingham University for the premier U17 Inter Counties Tournament (ICT) in junior badminton. Play commenced at 12 noon and Lancs first match was against Devon. Everyone started on top form and we gained a comfortable 10-0 victory. Next up were Kent, which proved to be a very tricky match. At one point we were 4-1 down but the team responded superbly and won the next five events to give Lancs a 6-4 win. We won all four doubles events, a particularly good win for both girls doubles pairs against very strong Kent girls. Amy, Amanda, Maddie and Steph played superbly well to win both doubles games. I also must mention a magnificent singles win by Amanda over a very strong Kent second girl.

Notts in the evening didn’t go our way, but they were the number 2 seeds. Some performances of note in this match - Steph Taylor fought a long, hard battle against Lucy Dixon before eventually losing, and Darren and Tom D got to15 against Adcock/Mills, an England pairing.

The Friday was always going to be tough - we rounded off the first group matches with a 10-0 win against Suffolk before starting our second group. In this match there was a thrilling first mixed doubles contest which Darren and Maddie won 21-18 - a real nail biter. The second group was going to be tough, we had to play Buckinghamshire and Hampshire, the number 4 and 5 seeds, and Staffs. We had to play all three games on the Friday in addition to the earlier Suffolk match - a really hard day. The team fought valiantly against Bucks and Hants but went down 6-4 and 8-2.

The key match in this group was always going to be Staffs, who had three England girls in their team. This match would determine the final placings we were going to play for. Both teams were desperateto be in the top 12. In the end the team was magnificent with a notable 6-4 victory. Again I must mention some performances. Tom Huggon, for his brilliant come back from 18-11 down to win 21-20. Tom Dunlop and AmyAshrafi who easily beat a very good Staffs first mixed pair. Darren Hosegood, who kept his cool to win the first boys singles, and Laura Walsh who had the unenviable task of playing Rebecca Fairhurst, a top England player. Laura took a magnificent 10 points off the England player. And the game that won the match - what can I say? Alasdair and James in very difficult and tense circumstances won an emotional and thrilling boys doubles 21-20. It clinched the match and the tension on the face of the watching parents and players from both sides was unbelievable.

In the final group we had to play Warwickshire, Ulster and Cheshire, all very strong teams. The players were clearly tiring from their heroic efforts of the previous two days and, even though we fought hard, we lost all three matches. But for me this doesn’t detract from a very successful ICT tournament for Lancs. Sure, there were 11 counties above us but let’s not forget the 25 below.

Well done and thank you to all the players for your hard work and dedication, not just during the tournament but also in the training sessions beforehand. You are a credit to Lancashire County Badminton. Many thanks also to all the parents who so willingly and enthusiastically supported this campaign. Your help and support really made a difference. And finally, a big thank you to Dorothy Barrett for all the help beforehand and during the tournament.

Dave Dunlop
Team Manager

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Tykes U19 Team Challenge
17th April 2004

Played at the Leeds Met Beckitt Park on 3-4 April 2004

Boys Girls
Nick Hodgson Lynsey Ashton
Darren Hosegood Becky Howell
Joe Duggon Dawn Hosegood
Chris Banks Karen Sach

The first Challenge was to get a full squad!  We finally made it at 8.30 am on the Satuday morning when Karen stepped into the breach. Thanks to Val and Linda for solving this minor problem and the 150 phone calls made by Dave Dunlop when we realised the College Finals and England call-ups would deprive us of half of our original team.

My main concern was to avoid the wooden spoon as I hadn't seen half the team play before.  Three rubbers downs in the first match against Durham my worst fears came to the fore.  I need not have worried running out eventual winners 7-3.  We then played Yorkshire, the team were magnificent winning 8-2.  Our  third match against Notts was a damage limitation exercise and I changed the formations round to give our singles players a rest.  It was a tactical error on my part as we lost the match 9-1, although there were some great performances, notably Dawn's 10-11 10-11 loss to Ruth Tandy in the girls singles and Becky and Linsey's win in the girls doubles against Ruth Tandy & Lauren Sevien.

We ended the day a tired but happy team - everybody had played extremely well.  Special note to Karen, Chris and Joe for some great performances representing the county for the first time.

The evening  was a rather quiet affair (ha, ha).  My instructions: "You are adults, I need a good night's sleep, see you in the morning ready to play."  They did not let me down.  Unfortunately Karen had to return home on Saturday night and we had to concede two rubbers agianst Leicestershire the following day.  The team made an unbelievable effort only losing 6-4 with fantastic performances from Nick and Becky in the singles, winning two very close matches against Vikesh Mody and Jenny Antkowiiak.  Joe and Daren had a great victory over Tim Link and Michael Ball, and Nick and Chris won in three in a very tight match against Vikesh and Greg Rumble.

The team was a pleasure to manage and a credit to the county, thoroughly deserving their bronze medals.  This is the only U19 team challenge and it is important that it continues.  My hope is that, if we can get organised early enough, we should be entering two teams as the number of phone calls made proved the players are there but like all of us they need plenty of notice.

John Howell
Team Manager

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U13s Take 3rd In Team Challenge
4th April 2004

Boys Girls
Philip Aspinall Nicola Poole
Daniel Wolfenden Emily Miller
Kristian Byrne Steph Hall
Michael Johnston Becky Hurst
Jack McKay Lizzie Balmforth

Having qualified in top spot in the regional round at Macclesfield (see report dated 11th December 2003) the Lancashire U13 team headed off to Luton on Saturday 3rd April for the U13 County Team Challenge Finals.  The finals were made up of the top two counties from each of the six regional events.  They played in two groups of six in a round robin format, followed by two further rounds to decide the final positions.  With banners, beaters, whistles and even pom-poms, Lancs were ready to beat the opposition (on and off the court)!!

First up was Avon.  Philip started with a convincing 21-8 win over World Class Start (WCS) player Chris Coles, which set the tone for the rest of the match, seeing Lancs take a convincing 6 games to 0 victory.  Second match was against Hertfordshire, where we managed to take 3 out of 4 singles and both the doubles.  Emily & Steph managed to pull off a 21-18 win against the very strong pairing of Lewczynska & Westwood.  Match result 5 games to 1.

Third on was Berkshire.  With one of their players having dropped out and only fielding a relatively weak side, Lancs wasted no time in winning 6 games to 0.  It was now three straight match wins in a row but with the toughest two matches to come.

Next up was Hampshire, who with five WCS players in the team proved too strong, despite a brave effort from Kristian who managed to take 15 points off  Mark Cappleman.  Daniel & Michael were the only winners giving a match result of 5 games to 1 in Hampshire's favour.

The last of the group matches was against Lincolnshire who had also only lost 1 match to Hampshire - this was to prove the deciding match as to whether we finished in the top four places.  After some intense strategic planning by Steve & Dave we reckoned the match could possibly go to 3 games all and have to be decided on points.  This required all games to maximise the points as much as possible.  Both girls singles were fantastic to watch.  Steph almost needed oxygen after her game with Anna Wilson but she managed to achieve a very valuable 7 points.  Likewise with Becky, who had to play Alex Langley and again pulled out a very valuable 6 points.  After a valiant effort from all the singles players, the match score was 3-1 to Lincs, meaning we needed both the doubles to draw level on games and hopefully take the victory on points.  Daniel & Jack had one of the most decisive wins of the day by thrashing the Lincs pair 21-0.  With one game left, the points score was 74-63 in Lincs favour. This meant Emily & Nicola needed to win by at least twelve clear points.  In the end a superb 21-2 win gave Lancashire a place in the play-offs for one of the top four places.

The first match in the play-offs was against Yorkshire.  Daniel tried hard against Mark Middleton, losing 21-11.  Nicola played extremely well against Jessica Fletcher pushing her to 21-15, and Lizzie’s performance of the day had to be against Laura Mercer (a Grade 2 player) narrowly losing 21-17.  Both doubles went in Lancashire’s favour, giving a match result of 4-2 to Yorkshire.

The final match of the day was against Leicestershire.  Kristian played No.1 singles against Nayan Patel.  Kristian was playing unbelievably well, leading 17-12, when Nayan had to pull out injured.  Nicola dominated her singles which meant that after all the singles games, the match score was 2-2.  Philip & Daniel took their game with ease 21-7.  Last game was Emily & Steph who had to beat Vanita Bhakta and her partner.  In their best game of the day Emily & Steph took the game 21-14, giving Lancashire a 4-2 win over Leicestershire and an overall third place.

In a competition that started in November 2003 with thirty counties competing for places, it was a tremendous achievement to finish third.

Final positions were:-

1st    Hampshire
2nd   Yorkshire
3rd    Lancashire
4th    Leicestershire
5th    Cheshire

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

Click on the images below to see larger copies.

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U17s & U13s Finish Shires Campaign
29th March 2004

The Lancashire U17 and U13 teams finished off their first season in the Shires League against Shropshire on Saturday 28th March.  Both teams finished with wins, with the U17s winning 16-4 and the U13s 17-3.

In the Shires League the top two teams (from regional leagues of 6) qualified for the finals.  In all three age groups (U13, 15 & 17) Lancashire finished 3rd and just missed out on each occasion.  Not bad for our first year, with finals to aim for in 2004/5.  Well done on a successful season.

b_lsh17a.jpg (80911 bytes) Under 17s
b_lsh13a.jpg (74292 bytes) Under 13s
b_lsh13b.jpg (54585 bytes) Under 13s

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Top Performances in U13 Nationals
22nd March 2004

Philip Aspinall had a very successful trip to the U13 Nationals in Luton on 20th March, the main individual event of the BAofE season.  Philip knocked out one of the seeds in his box (Avinash Chandarana) and went on to beat Michael Truswell, finally going out in the Quarter Finals.  In the mixed, Philip again went out in the Quarter Finals and in the doubles he lost at the Semi Final stage.

Nicola Poole also had a fantastic performance in the mixed, reaching the Semi Finals with partner James Lauder (Shropshire).  Danny Wolfenden, Kristian Byrne, Emily Miller and Steph Hall also played, with everyone winning matches.

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Primary Stars in Rotherham
21st March 2004

The youngest of our Lancashire teams took centre stage on Sunday 14th March, playing the second day of the North Midway League in Rotherham.  The team took second place in the Primary School event, with Durham gaining top spot.  The other counties taking part were Nottinghamshire (3rd), Yorkshire 'A' (4th), Cheshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire 'B'.

The photo below shows the players with their trophies.  Well done - the future looks bright for the county!

Primary Schools Team
Top: Heather Poole, Lizzie Balmforth, Danya Lewis, Annabel Leather
Bottom: James Abdous, Matthew Wright, Peter Athans, Sam Artinigstall

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U15s Finish on Winning Note
19th March 2004

Boys Girls
Tom Dickinson Kirstin Miller
Chris Brown Lucinda Wing
Mark McKay Steph James
Alex Byrne Katherine Wong

Lancashire's U15s went out on a winning note in their final Shires match, against Shropshire, on 14th March.  The 14-6 result was a fair reflection of the play, with Chris Brown and Lucinda Wing going through the match unbeaten.  Both started together at 2nd mixed, winning in 3 games, 15-4, 11-15, 15-8.  Chris then won well at 2nd singles, 15-13, 15-11, whilst Lucinda crushed Shropshire's 2nd girl, 11-7, 11-0.  Chris then partnered Tom Dickinson to dispose of both Shropshire's levels pairs in 2 games.  Lucinda played with Kirstin Miller and came back from the dead to beat Mandy Rawlings and Sarah Turner at 1st levels, 8-15, 15-12, 17-14, then defeated the 2nd pair in 2 games.  Well done!

It takes 8 players to make a Shires team, and everyone played well.  Level 2-2 after the mixed, 6 of the 8 singles went our way, followed by 6 out of 8 wins in the levels (with only the cross-over Lancs 2nd v Shropshire 1st rubbers getting away).

Congratulations to the team on this result and for our sucessful season.  And thanks to all the parents and supporters for getting behind the county set up.  I'm sorry I missed the match - I started celebrating 12 hours too soon (!) and am grateful to my better half, Belinda, for running the team so capably.

And my thanks also to the "volunteers" that run the junior county set-up, for their time and patience in making this first season with our new boundaries run so well.  We are still learning and we have plenty of ideas for progressing again next year.  Your ideas or requests will be grately received and I will pass them in to our discussions for next year.

So keep playing, keep enjoying the game, practice hard (coaching is a privilege that most juniors don't get), don't be grumpy on or off court, stick to the principles of fair play no matter what happens on the other side of the net, and say thanks occasionally to your family for supporting you in playing the game.

Dave Miller
Team Manager

Under 15 team (left to right on lower photo):
Katherine Wo
ng, Steph James, Kirstin Miller, Lucinda Wing, Chris Brown, Tom Dickinson, Mark McKay, Alex Byrne

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U15s Win Against Cheshire
2nd March 2004

Boys Girls
Gary Fox Kirstin Miller
Michael Mellor Steph James
Tom Dickinson Lucinda Wing
Chris Brown Holly Richards

The U15s travelled to Middlewich on Sunday 29th February and recorded their best result of the season.  Playing Cheshire in the Shires League, the team came out of the blocks well, winning three of the four mixed.  Kirstin Miller showed how much her mixed has come on this season, looking very comfortable with Gary Fox at 1st pair, winning 15-2, 15-11 against two good players, Ben Fearns and Pippa Rogers.  Tom Dickinson & Lucinda Wing were equally convincing, sweeping aside the Cheshire 3rd pair 15-3, 15-7.  Chris Brown & Holly Richards won well at 4th in three games.

In the singles the boys all won in two games, Michael Mellor winning a tight game at 1st, 15-11, 15-14.  Tom was never troubled at 2nd, winning 15-2, 15-2.  The girls had tougher games, with Steph James getting the unenviable task of playing Pippa Rogers at 1st.  Kirstin recorded one of her best singles results, beating Katie Mitchell 11-6, 11-0 at 2nd.  Lucinda used her mobility to great effect, winning at 3rd against Kathleen Turner, 11-6, 11-1.  A 9-3 match lead at this stage was outstanding and well beyond expectation.

The levels produced some entertaining games with both Lancashire boys pairs showing tactical maturity.  Gary & Michael beat both Cheshire pairs comfortably, followed by a similar achievement from Tom & Chris, who took out the top Cheshire pair of Fearns & Allcock with some ease.  One further win in the girls levels by Lucinda & Holly (in a tough battle where they showed great tenacity) gave a final match result of 14-6.  Pippa Rogers stood out in the Cheshire team, only losing in the mixed.  For Lancashire everyone had an outstanding day, with perhaps the star performances coming from Tom Dickinson, Lucinda Wing and Kirstin Miller.  Well done everyone!

Dave Miller
Team Manager

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U13 Roses Battle is a Classic
1st March 2004

Boys Girls
Philip Aspinall Nicola Poole
Daniel Wolfenden Emily Miller
Kristian Byrne Steph Hall
Michael Johnston Lizzie Balmforth

The U13s played Yorkshire in the Shires League on Sunday 29th February.  And with a score line of 14 games to 6 in Yorkshire's favour, it would be easy to think that Lancashire were outclassed ... nothing could be further from the truth!!

The team played their hearts out and I could not have asked more from any single one of them.  Four of the games went to 3 with all four going in Yorkshire’s favour ... it could so easily have been a very different score line.

In the mixed doubles Danny & Emily had a superb win over Paul Scott & Sarah Milne, whilst Michael & Lizzie outplayed their No. 4 pair winning 15/3 15/5.  Kristian & Steph came very close taking it to 3 only losing 15/11 in the third.  Philip & Nicola were always going to struggle with the opposition of Middleton & Fletcher.

In the singles the boys managed to split the games winning two out of the four events.  The girls had a tough time but both Nicola and Lizzie managed to take their matches to a third game.  In the doubles Daniel & Michael were truly awesome managing to take the first game off Middleton & Scott in a match that seemed to last for ever.  Philip & Kristian took the only boys doubles game beating Hall & Hargreaves 15/3 15/9.  The girls pushed the opposition hard with Emily & Steph winning 15/9 15/12 against Shilitto & Mercer.

Once again the effort from every team member was at such a level that I was proud to be involved, well done to everybody.  Thanks also to Becky Hurst for adding some vocal support to the team.

Lancashire U13 Team

Back: Philip Aspinall, Kristian Byrne, Michael Johnston, Daniel Wolfenden

Front: Lizzie Balmforth, Steph Hall, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

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Yorkshire Win But Lancs U15s Keep Smiling
23rd February 2004

Boys Girls
Michael Mellor Lucinda Wing
Chris Brown Emily Miller
Mark McKay Stephanie Hall
Jack Foster Katherine Wong

Lancashire's Under 15s played Yorkshire in the Shires League on Sunday 22nd February at Robin Park and came out with their pride in tact.  Yorkshire provide opposition that we have come to expect are hard to beat and this one was no exception.  Made harder by the top players in the Lancashire team being unavailable, but what it gave us was a chance to see a number of those not regularly in the team ... and they showed that they can play.

The mixed got away from us, with only Jack Foster & Steph Hall making a dent on the score line, coming close to taking a game.  When Steph and Jack then got little joy in their singles, things looked a little forlorn ... but cometh the hour, cometh the badminton stars!  First Katherine Wong outplayed her opponent at 4th singles, working hard for the first game then cruising home in the second, winning 11-8, 11-2.  No one had told Mark McKay (3rd singles) to work hard and enjoy it ... come to think of it I did!  He did work very hard and he clearly enjoyed it ... winning an epic match 9-15, 15-13, 17-14.  His court coverage, balance and intelligent play were from the top drawer and show he has come a long way in a short time.  We then turned to Chris Brown, who is a vastly improved player this season, playing with power, finess and superb reactions, running out winner at 2nd singles 9-15, 15-5, 15-8.  With Michael Mellor unlucky to go down at 1st singles 11-15, 12-15, the fitness levels of these boys was excellent.

The level doubles were tough going, with Yorkshire's first girls, Helen Calverly & Lauren Allinson, proving too strong on the day.  Michael & Chris were unlucky losers at first levels, going down 14-17, 11-15, but came in well in the cross-over levels winning 15-3, 15-12.  Emily Miller & Steph Hall made up for a loss at first levels, also taking the cross-over 15-13, 15-9.  Lucinda Wing & Katherine Wong were unlucky at second levels, losing out in a good match 6-15, 15-9, 12-15.

A 15-5 match win for Yorkshire, though our team take the praise.  Thanks to Yorkshire for playing in such a sporting match.  And a big thank you to the parents and other supporters, for being so positive during the match, for the lunch and for transporting the players.

Dave Miller
Team Manager

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Under 17 Successes
12th February 2004

At the Under 17 nationals on 7-8 Feb Tom Dunlop won the singles in fine style.  This completes a hat trick for Tom as he has won the singles at under 13, 15 and 17.  He didn't drop a game and conceded just 44 points.  He also picked up a silver in the doubles (playing with Chris Adcock - an under 15) and a bronze in the mixed.

It was also the standard challenge on the Sunday and Lancs was represented by Alasdair McCorkindale. Alasdair played well and reached the semi-final of the doubles with his partner Gary Allan from Leicester.

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North Midway Under 14
10th February 2004

Boys Girls
Richard Dundas Nicola Poole
Daniel Wolfenden Stephanie James
Mark McKay Nathalie Phillips
Guy Mullarkey Holly Richards

For the North Midway League, played in Rotherham on 8th February, Lancashire's U14s were in second place at the start of play, based on their result in the first event of this two-day league (see report dated 3rd November).  The teams were placed in pools of three, but with a team not turning up the organisers had to revamped the order, placing teams into two pools of four, which meant the top two would play the top two from the other group in the afternoon.

The day started well with Lancashire beating Durham 10-0.  Next up Yorkshire 2; we were looking for three out of three in the morning to keep the pressure on Cheshire who had a strong team and right behind us in third place.  But the team, expecting another easy match, found Yorkshire 2 stronger than expected and lost 6-4.  The news of this defeat ran round the hall like a raging fire; it would now take something special from the team to gain second place.  Third game of the morning, Leicestershire.  Lancashire moved into a quick lead 6-0, winning the game but leaving the four doubles games to be played, with hard matches to come against Yorkshire 1 and Cheshire.  Short games were needed but the team were finding the doubles hard and both girls lost 21-20.  Guy and Mark also lost, with Richard and Daniel the only victors.

Games changed from 21 to 11 due a lack of time in the afternoon.  Yorkshire 1 and Cheshire topped the other group, with Yorkshire 2 winning our group.  We now needed Yorkshire 2 to beat Cheshire but they were not strong enough losing 7-3.  We needed to beat Cheshire to gain second place.

The players were showing some fatigue.  Nicola had played in Bradford the day before and needed a rest, Mark, along with Guy, had played all the singles and both were looking tired.  Time for some team tactics; with Yorkshire 1 first and Cheshire to follow we changed the team around playing Richard and Daniel in the singles along with Holly and Nathalie.  Yorkshire 1 were a very strong team, only losing a few games all day.  We knew a win was out of the question, but no one told Nathalie who went on as number one girl and played the game of her life just losing 11-9.

Last game of the day, Lancashire V Cheshire.  Both teams knew only a win would give them second place overall.  Time to change the team again, Richard and Holly number one mixed (undefeated all day) and Guy and Nathalie number two.  Guy and Nathalie worked well together giving Lancashire a 2-0 lead.  Number one girl and boy singles next.  Daniel and Nicola had hard games playing very well against strong opponents both just edged out (2-2).  With Stephanie and Mark playing second could we stay level.  Stephanie played well beating her old partner and Mark showed how much he has improved, putting Lancashire in a commanding 4-2 lead.  The noise from both sets of spectators was starting to rise, the tension was building and we were still 2 victories away from second place.

First girls Nathalie and Nicola, who had played well all day, found the Cheshire girls too strong (4-3).  Richard and Daniel were losing as Mark and Guy went on for their last game of the day.  The support from the players was a joy to see and hear - with this support and their skill Richard and Daniel turned defeat into victory (5-3).  Only one more game to gain the win we needed: we did not wait long, as Mark and Guy, who were growing with confidence all day, gave the team their sixth win and second place overall.  Both teams were a credit to their counties, showing true sportsmanship throughout the whole match.  Well done to all.

Click on the image to see an enlargement.

b_c14roth.jpg (141183 bytes) Under 14 team
Danny Wolfenden, Nicola Poole, Holly Rihards, Steph James, Richard Dundas, Nathalie Phillips, Mark McKay, Guy Mullarkey

Tom Richards
Team Manager

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First Primary Outing
4th February 2004

Lancashire played their first match in the primary schools age group of the North Midway League on Sunday 1st February, finishing in a brilliant 2nd place on the day.  They lost out in their very first match to Durham, winning the rest of their matches.  Well done.

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U15s Mixed Fortunes Against Staffs
26th January 2004

On Sunday 18th January Lancashire took on Staffordshire in their second Shires match, and played a friendly (4 boys) at the same time.  Staffs had some excellent players out, notably Darren Chesworth (1st boy).  Tom Dickinson and Steph Hall had the only success in the mixed (4th pair) with their strong boys paired with very capable girls (such as Emma Woolley and April Jackson) thus making the going tough.

Gary Fox and Tom were our only winners in the singles, though Emily Miller set one game against April and Holly Richards went down in 3 games to Emma Jackson.

The match swung back to Lancs in the level doubles, with excellent wins for Ross Little and Tom (15-13, 13-15, 15-7), Gary and Michael Mellor (15-4, 15-7) and Emily and Steph (10-15, 15-9, 15-12).  Ross and Tom were unlucky to go down in 3 games to Darren Chesworth and Joseph Mathers.

Lucinda Wing was the unsung hero (heroine) on the day, playing 1st mixed and 1st singles, which was no easy task against such opposition as Darren and April, and then Emma.  The final match result of 14-6 to Staffs was a fair result on the day, but doesn't reflect the terrific spirit and positive attitude that stayed in the team.

The friendly team, of Alex Du Noyer, Mark McKay, Robert Sykes and Guy Mullarkey, produced a different outcome, with our team playing superbly to record a 9-5 match result.  The whole team wore the red of Lancashire with pride and showed that the county is developing strength in depth.  Mark had some of the best results on the day, winning two levels and his two singles, only missing out in the final doubles with Alex 14-15.  Equally, Guy only gave away one game on the day, winning both his singles and two of his three doubles.  Well done to everyone for their attitude and quality of play ... and thanks to the parents for such positive support.

Dave Miller
Team Manager

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U13 & U17 Shires Matches vs Staffs
14th January 2004

Lancashire U17 team played their second Shires league match against Staffordshire on 11th January.  It was a very 'close encounter'.  After the mixed it was two all, after the singles it was six all and with two boys doubles still to play it was nine all.  Both the doubles went to three and Lancs just edged both of them to win 11-9 overall.  The result was made more impressive because Staffs turned out two top U17 England girls.  Well done to all the team on winning our second Shires match in a row.

In Lancashire’s third U13 Shires match of the season, the team produced another outstanding victory by beating Staffordshire 20-0.  Man of the match had to go to Robbie McDonald who at only 10 years old won all four of his matches without dropping a single game.  Thanks again to the dedicated parents who once again put on an excellent buffet.  Well done to all the team for producing another excellent result.  See the photos below of our two teams (click on images for enlargements).

b_cstf13a.jpg (58952 bytes) Under 13 team
Back:
Emily Miller, Nicola Poole, Steph Hall, Becky Hurst
Front: Kristian Byrne, Michael Johnston, Danny Wolfenden, Robbie McDonald
b_cstf13b.jpg (51691 bytes)
b_cst15a.jpg (60079 bytes) Under 17 team
Back: Maddie Harrison, Laura Walsh, Jenny Hayhurst, Amy Ashrafi, Amanda Barrett
Front: James Mullarkey, Tom Huggon, Tom Monk, Alasdair McCorkindale, Darren
Hosegood

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U12 North Midway
14th January 2004

In the second day of the U12 North Midway League, played in Rotherham on Sunday 11th January, the Lancashire team came second.

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Under 15 Staffs Quad
23rd December 2003

Lancashire's under 15s played a 4-county tournament in Stafford on Sunday 21st December.  Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire joined Lancashire in the event, which was played in a very friendly atmosphere, with crackers, party poppers and attempts to make up a Lancs chant making the day a great team builder.  And the quality of the badminton was good too, as Lancs started by disposing of Derbyshire 14-2.

The team then took Staffs to 6-6 before just missing out in the levels, going down 7-9.  Both Tom & Lucinda and Alex & Katherine had excellent 15-12 wins in the mixed, which the boys then followed up with excellent wins in the singles, Tom taking 2nd singles 15-10 and Alex taking 4th singles 15-13 (Alex being chanted home from 9-13 down without losing serve by the rest of the team).

The event was completed with a 12-4 win against Leicestershire, with Gary & Kirstin, Michael & Charlotte and Tom & Lucinda having convincing wins in the mixed.  There were some tired legs by the end, but the team showed a great team spirit and all teams played the games in a very friendly manner.  Many thanks to the organisers at Staffs, who put a lot of time into making the event happen, whilst providing food and shuttles for the day, at no charge to the visiting teams.  Merry Christmas to you all!

Dave Miller
Team Manager

b_l15stfa.JPG (55263 bytes) Under 15 team:
Alex Byrne, Tom Dickinson, Gary Fox, Michael Mellor, Lucinda Wing, Katherine Wo
ng, Kirstin Miller, Charlotte Hall
b_l15stfb.JPG (43968 bytes) Supporters / Taxi Drivers!

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Team Challenge Inter Counties Qualifier
11th December 2003

On Saturday 29th November 2003 the Lancashire U13 and U15 teams played in the Team Challenge regional qualifier to see if they could qualify for the national finals next April.  The competition, held at Macclesfield Leisure Centre, sees all counties in the area play each other, with the top two in each age group going through to the finals in Luton.

Under 13s

Boys Girls
Philip Aspinall Nicola Poole
Daniel Wolfenden Emily Miller
Kristian Byrne Steph Hall
Michael Johnston Becky Hurst

In a group with four other counties (Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Cumbria and Cheshire) the Lancashire U13 team simply outclassed all the opposition.  The first 3 matches were all won with ease by 6 games to 0.  The one remaining match was against Cheshire, which was always going to be the most difficult.  In the boys singles, Philip continued his winning form over Matthew Nottingham by taking the game 21-17.  Kristian took his game with ease against Matthew Slater 21-7.

The girls singles was always going to be difficult against two "World Class Start" players.  The match was all level at two games all.  With just the two level doubles to play, Emily & Steph won their game with ease 21-6.  The final game proved to be a bit of a nail biter but in the end Daniel & Michael came through worthy winners at 21-15.

Lancashire qualify in 1st place with Cheshire 2nd .   Bring on the Finals!!

Lancashire U13 Team

Back: Nicola Poole, Daniel Wolfenden, Kristian Byrne, Michael Johnston, Emily Miller

Front: Steph Hall, Philip Aspinall, Becky Hurst

 

Three caffeine overdosed supporters manage to drag themselves out of the café to make a rare appearance at the side of the court in support of the Lancashire team

Under 15s

Boys Girls
Ross Little Kirstin Miller
Michael Mellor Steph James
Tom Dickinson Lucinda Wing

The Under 15 team played a different format to the U13s, with 3x3 competing in a boys and girls singles, a girls and boys level doubles, and 3 mixed doubles ... each player playing a mixed and either a singles or a levels.  With one extra county to play, the team started well with a 7-0 win over Derbyshire.  This was followed by the same result against Cumbria, with Lucinda Wing (against Derbys) and Steph James (against Cumbria) winning good girls singles games.

Staffordshire had a strong team, having moved Emma Woolley up from their U13s and in effect throwing their chances at U13.  Their girls were too strong on the day and, despite a fantastic 15-13 win by Ross Little in the boys singles (which had to be restarted at around 10-all because neither could agree on the score!), the match got away 2-5.

Shropshire were disposed of 6-1, leaving a win required against Cheshire to qualify.  In the end the match was lost 2-5, but the match involved three of the games of the day: first Lucinda almost stole the girls singles against the odds; then Tom Dickinson took a very strong Cheshire player (W. Donnelly) all the way going down in a great 12-15 tussle; and finally Michael Mellor and Kirstin Miller recorded a terrific 15-14 win at 1st mixed against W. Donnelly and K. Mitchell.  It was a close match and the players missed out by a narrow margin on qualification for Luton, coming 3rd on the day.

The players in both age groups played with a fantastic spirit all day and supported each other all the way - we were by far the best supported team (with the louders cheer leaders) on the day!  Thanks to the parents and thanks to the players for being so supportive ... and good luck to the U13s come April.

Steve Aspinall
U13 Team Manager

Dave Miller
U15 Team Manager

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Lancashire v Cheshire - U13 Shires Match
17th November 2003

Boys Girls
Daniel Wolfenden Emily Miller
Michael Johnston Nicola Poole
Jack McKay Becky Hurst
Tom Wolfenden Annabel Leather

The U13s played Cheshire in the Shires League on Sunday 16th November 2003.  After losing 4 players to the dreaded flu and 1 player who was on holiday, I was seriously considering catching the flu myself and calling off the match due to a stressed out and ill team manager.  Eventually, by Thursday evening, I had managed to pull together a very capable side that would give any county team a run for their money.

The match started with the mixed doubles which gave some of the most exciting games of the day.  Daniel & Emily came up against one of the best pairs in the country, and although they lost in 2 games they can feel happy that they pushed them to 15-11 in the second.  Michael & Nicola must have been on court for about 75 minutes!  After losing the 1st game 15-13 they came back in the 2nd to win 15-13.  The 3rd game was another marathon, eventually winning 15-12.  Michael looked as if he didn’t have another game left in him!  It was a similar story with Jack & Becky, who lost the 1st 15-9 but came back to win 15-13 and 15-11.  Tom and Annabel played superbly well, pushing the Cheshire pair to a 3rd game, narrowly losing 15-12.  It was now 2 games all after the mixed.

On to the boys singles, Daniel came up against Matt Nottingham.  Daniel took the first game 15-9 but couldn’t quite hold on, losing the 2nd & 3rd games.  Michael was feeling the effects of the mixed, losing in 2 straight games.  Jack managed to push Richard Burgh to a 3rd game but again couldn’t quite clinch it.  Tom came through with a superb win in 2 straight games.  The girls singles was always going to be difficult, especially at No. 1 & 2 where Cheshire have 2 "World Class Start" players.  It was Becky in the girls who managed to grind out a win by beating Jenna Allcock 11-6 in the 3rd game.  The match score was now 8-4 to Cheshire.

Daniel & Michael must have decided that they hadn’t played enough and, yes you guessed it, it was another 3 setter and a great victory over Nottingham & Slater.  With the boys winning 3 out of the 4 doubles and the girls winning 1 out of 4, the end result was a win to Cheshire by 12 games to 8.  Every single player gave 110% effort, making it a pleasure to be involved with, congratulations to all 8 players.

Thanks must also go out to the parents who provided some excellent refreshments (I’ll try to remember the tea bags next time Mrs Hurst, sorry)!

b_l13ch1.jpg (50376 bytes) Under 13 team:
Back: Annabel Leather, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Becky Hurst
Front row: Jack McKay, Tom Wolfenden, Daniel Wolfenden, Michael Johnston
b_l13ch2.jpg (56465 bytes)
b_l13ch3.jpg (54131 bytes) Under 13 Cheshire team 

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

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U15s Open Shires Account on Top
15th November 2003

Boys Girls
Gary Fox Kirstin Miller
Ross Little Emily Miller
Michael Mellor Nicola Poole
Tom Dickinson Stephanie Hall

The Lancashire U15 team recorded a comprehensive win in their first Shires League match on Sunday 9th November.  Playing away to Derbyshire the team made a good start, taking all 4 mixed, with Ross and Emily winning a long encounter, 13-15, 15-12, 15-9.

The singles were well won by 7 rubbers to one, followed by some classy displays in the doubles, with the only loss there coming in one of the ladies cross-overs.  Well done to the players on an 18-2 win and thank you to the supporters for making the trip and providing the lifts.  One noticable name in the Derbyshire team was Leah Kellogg, sister of Donna (who is ranked 4 in England at ladies doubles).

Lucinda Wing was unable to play through illness - thanks to Steph Hall for stepping in at the eleventh hour.

b_l15de1.jpg (43616 bytes) Under 15 team:
Back: Dave Miller (Team Manager), Ross Little, Tom Dickinson, Gary Fox, Michael Mellor
Front: Kirstin Miller, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall
b_l15de2.jpg (50087 bytes)

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Under 14s Take 2nd Place at Rotherham
3rd November 2003

All the players arrived on time for the North Midway League in Rotherham on Sunday 2nd November.  We were informed that Lancashire had not been seeded, though fortunately the draw had allowed us to miss Yorkshire in the morning!

Boys Girls
Nick Shoreman Stephanie James
Richard Dundas Nicola Poole
Guy Mullarkey Holly Richards
Daniel Wolfenden Nathalie Phillips

The format was 2 boys singles, 2 girls singles, 2 boys doubles, 2 girls doubles and 2 mixed.  First up Northhumberland and the team made an excellent start with Nick, Richard, Stephanie and Nicola winning all the singles.  This was a trend for the day, with Guy, Holly,  Daniel and Nathalie on next in the mixed, both pairs winning with ease ... the game was over.  The team went on to win the match 9/1.

With no rest time for Lancashire, Lincolnshire were eager to start, but once again the singles games put Lancashire in a 4/0 lead.  Again, with little time for rest, the four doubles (Nick/Guy, Richard/Daniel, Nicola/Nathalie, Stephanie/Holly) were under way, with Lancashire winning all four.  With only the mixed left could we win without dropping a game?  The mixed pairs repeated their performance from the first match, giving the team a well deserved 10/0 win.

After lunch the top the teams were in place to play off for first second and third.  Joining Lancashire were Yorkshire and Cheshire.  Yorkshire were allowed to play their matches first, which felt a little unfair as they would finish first and only had a short drive home.  However, Yorkshire beat Cheshire with the game being decided on the mixed games.  Lancashire got off to a slow start against Yorkshire, with only Stephanie winning her singles.  The match was lost, but the team can hold their heads high as most matches were very close, two being decided 15/14.  Lancashire did feel that Yorkshire used unsportsmanlike tactics during the match and our players will have learned from this.

We were now starting to show some fatigue as it had been a long day.  However, we could still gain second place.  The players picked themselves up and, with some fine displays, beat a well organised Cheshire team 8/2.

A well deserved second place overall - well done everyone.

Tom Richards
Team Manager

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Nick and Becky Shine in Durham
22nd October 2003

It was a great Day for Lancashire at the Durham U19 Open.  It  was an extremely long day with, as always, the best match of the day being the last.  This was the mixed doubles final between four extremely tired players - Nick Hodgson & Becky Howell (Lancs) against Andrew Coulson (Durham) and Helen Davies (Cheshire), the latter winning a fantastic game 15-5, 12-15, 15-12.  This match immediately followed the men's singles final in which Nick again took the runners up medal.  However both Nick and Becky, with their respective doubles partners, Luke Brunelle (Yorkshire) and Helen Davies (Cheshire) took the open doubles titles.

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Lancashire v Derbyshire - U13 Shires Match
21st October 2003

There was a resounding victory in the first U13’s Shires League match for Lancashire against Derbyshire on Sunday 19th October.  With the match consisting of 20 rubbers, each best of 3 games to 15 points, it was a convincing 20-0 win for the Lancashire side.  Not only did the team win all rubbers, they managed to do it without dropping a single game!!

Congratulations to all team members.

Under 13 team

Back: Daniel Wolfenden, Kristian Byrne, Philip Aspinall, Michael Johnston, Jack McKay

Front: Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Lizzie Balmforth, Stephanie Hall, Nicola Poole.

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

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Great Performances by Lancashire U16 Teams in Rotherham
20th October 2003

The U16s performed brilliantly in Rotherham in the North Midway League on Sunday 19th October.  The League brings 12 counties together with top graded players restricted from entering.  Lancashire, with their new structure and thus high number of available players, took two teams, split into North and South.  Both teams performed very well, with the North coming out top of their morning group and the South finishing second, only missing out by the odd game.  In the second group stage the North lost out by the narrowest of margins to Warwickshire for top spot on the day, whilst the South had two good wins to top the group playing for places 4-6.  Of the 12 counties entered, this placed the North 2nd on the day and the South in 4th.

There were some excellent matches throughout - from my side of the hall the best result came from Sophie Richards (South) who was brave enough to play the singles in the Yorkshire match and won convincingly.  I also saw Darren Hosegood look very accomplished in his singles for the North team.  Well done to both teams, with special mention of the players' support for each other and their togetherness as a whole county.

Results:

North South
Isle of Man Won 4-1 Derbyshire Won 3-2
Nottinghamshire Won 5-0 Yorkshire Won 3-2
Leicestershire Won 3-2 Lincolnshire Lost 2-3
Qualified for places 1-3 Qualified for places 4-6
Lincolnshire Won 4-1 Leicestershire Won 3-2
Warwickshire Lost 2-3 Durham Won 3-2
Final placing 2nd Final placing 4th

The League is played over two days, the second event scheduled for 21st March, when the results of the two days are combined.  These results leave Lancs with a good chance of taking top positions come March.

b_l16r1n.jpg (56450 bytes) Under 16 (North) team:
Back: Tom Monk, Michael Dorans, Darren Hosegood, Michael Olstowski, Danny Dickin
Front: Lucinda Wing, Lucy Jackson, Carla Hope, Amanda Barrett, Stephanie Taylor
b_l16r1s.jpg (58996 bytes) Under 16 (South) team:
Back: Tom Dickinson, David Kenny, Paul Maguire, Jonathan Lunt, Chris Brown
Middle: Lucy Foster, Sophie Richards
Front: Kirstin Miller, Stephanie James, Charlotte Hall 

Dave Miller

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Lancashire Off to Winning Start in Shires League
8th October 2003

The U17s played their first match in the Shires League on Sunday 5th October away at Derbyshire.  Full details of the Shires League can be seen on their web site.

It was a gloriously sunny day and, having cleaned the car and unblocked the sink in the bathroom, I set off to Chellaston High School for Lancashire’s first County match in the new ‘merged’ world.  This was an under 17s match though we had a young team - seven of our players were under 16.  I arrived at the venue with five minutes to spare and my mobile phone ringing.  It was Maddy Harrison - I panicked - but I needn’t have.  She was just letting me know she was on her way and almost there.  Phew!

I have to say the team were superb.  There was a good team spirit and I have no doubt that everyone gave their best.  There were some thrilling matches.  Dave Kenny and Jenny Hayhurst were our only mixed doubles winners, they played a brilliant mixed to win 15/3, 15/4.  Jenny went on to take her singles 3 and 9 in a comfortable win.

The boys singles were tough.  Darren Hosegood lost to a very good Derby No1 boy, Paul Maguire losing two epic games against his opposite number 13/15, 15/17.  Dave Kenny played a quality singles to win 7 and 3.  Tom Huggon was involved in a classic three setter.  He came from behind to win 12/15, 15/3, 15/12.  It was a tremendous win and he quite rightly collapsed in a heap afterwards.

The girls were brilliant, with all four girls winning their singles.  Laura Walsh had a real test playing Tara Weir who she had never beaten, but she came through with flying colours to win 13/11, 11/5.  Again in the girls doubles the Lancs pairings were too strong for the opposition.  Laura, playing with Amanda Barrett, and Stephanie Taylor with Madeline Harrison, played really good doubles and in the end won comfortably.  The boys doubles were without doubt the most entertaining battles of the afternoon.  All four doubles games produced some thrilling badminton.  Tom (who must have thought he was turning into a 3 set specialist ) and Darren had two classic three setters, winning one and losing one.  Dave and Alistair McCorkindale also won one and lost one.

The match was won by 13 rubbers to 7 - a good victory.  WELL DONE TEAM!  The team was: Darren Hosegood, Tom Huggon, Paul Maguire, Dave Kenny, Alistair McCorkindale, Laura Walsh, Amanda Barrett, Stephanie Taylor, Jenny Hayhurst and Madeline Harrison.  Thanks also to Amy Ashrafi and Tom Monk for being on standby.

Dave Dunlop
Team Manager

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Under 12 Leicestershire Doubles
7th October 2003

It was 9:15pm on Saturday evening when the phone rang (every team managers nightmare!!).  Robbie McDonald had to pull out due to a football injury sustained that afternoon.  After several hurried phone calls, James Abdous was available.  Special thanks must go to James Abdous & family who saved the day by agreeing to travel and play at such short notice.

A 10:00am start time on Sunday 5th October meant that we were all up with the birds facing a journey of nearly 140 miles to get to Leicester.  On arrival, the team shirts were distributed (we were the best looking county by far!!) and we were ready to play.  15 counties were represented by a total of 36 pairs of boys and 29 pairs of girls.

Girls

The girls’ competition was split into 3 groups of 7 pairs and 1 group of 8 pairs.  Sarah Kenny & Annabel Leather played extremely well winning their first game and going on to finish a very creditable 5th in the group.  Rebecca Hurst & Elizabeth Balmforth gave all the girls in their group a run for their money, winning 4 out of the 6 games finishing 3rd in the group, just missing out on a quarter final place.  All the girls played extremely well and were a credit to the county.

Boys

The boys were split into 4 groups of 9 pairs, a total of 36 games to 15 points had to be played on each court, which meant it was going to be a very long day.  It was not until 6pm that all group matches were finished.  That still left the quarters, semis and finals to be played.  James Abdous & Lewis Foster were in group 1, both boys new to county competitions, played extremely well winning their first game.  As the games progressed, their confidence grew and the level of play improved dramatically, just losing to Matthew Nottingham (WCS player) and his partner 15 – 14.  A fantastic effort.

Tom Wolfenden & Michael Johnston had a very good day, winning 6 out of the 8 group games, unfortunately this left them in 3rd place overall, just outside the top two places needed to progress through to the quarter finals.

Philip Aspinall & Kristian Byrne played in group 2 winning all their matches comfortably.  This placed them in 1st position and secured them a place in the quarter finals.  There they played Wyatt & Hobley from Gloucestershire winning 15 – 9.  In the semi they had to play Trusswell & Cohen from Yorkshire who had just knocked out Nottingham and Herriott.  This was a tough game but in the end came out on top winning 15 – 9.  The final was against Coles & Craig from Avon and could only be described as an epic!! The game was evenly matched all the way through with neither pair getting more than 2 or 3 points ahead at any stage.  At 14 – 12 up, Philip & Kristian had 4 match points but couldn’t quite close out the game.  (Ann Byrne was running out of finger nails to bite).  An excellent effort from both boys.

Steve Aspinall
Team Manager

Lizzie Balmforth & Becky Hurst
Sarah Kenny & Annabel Leather
Kristian Byrne & Philip Aspinall
James Abdous & Lewis Foster
Michael Johnston & Tom Wolfenden

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Full Squad Published
6th October 2003

The Lancashire junior badminton "full county squad" has been selected - see the Players page.

You may be aware that the boundaries for the junior county have changed this season to incorporate the northern parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester.  As a result we have a new committee which has reviewed the way we work, including adopting a system of “inviting” players to our full squad practices.  The full squad practices take place at Robin Park, Wigan.  Please note current session dates are as shown on Fixtures page.

You are asked to arrive 10 minutes early for all practices to allow time for administrative work.  There is a charge of £4 per player per session for all Wigan practice sessions.  There is also an additional one-off £10 ‘affiliation’ fee payable at your first session: this will enable the Schools & Youth Committee to manage its work on your behalf.

Some players will not have made the squad at this stage.  Where places on the squad are not taken (unless notice of absence is given) then places may be lost and offered to other players eager to join the squad.  Therefore, if you cannot attend any practice you must let your team manager know.  See details of team managers listed on About Us.

Being a member of the full squad entitles you to purchase a squad shirt.  These will be on sale at the Wigan practices, price £15 (they are high grade Inflight shirts being sold at cost price).  Anyone who then represents the county in a match is entitled to a “red rose” county emblem to attach to their shirt or shorts.

Those that have not been selected should not see this as a negative thing.  Indeed, we hope you will rise to the challenge and keep practicing at your local sessions.  Please inform us when you think you are able to play as part of the squad and we will assess your progress.

If you need to speak to anyone about your involvement in county badminton please contact any committee member who will be happy to help.

If you use email please email Dave Miller on badminton@f2s.com with details so that we are able to get news to you quickly of matches and other activities.

Remember, if you are unable to attend any full county squad practice you must contact your team manager (according to your age).

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Lancs Restricted Tournaments
5th October 2003

The Lancashire Restricted Tournaments were played on three successive Saturdays in September in the U12, 14 and 16 age groups.  Players were eligible to play if they attend school in Lancashire or live in Lancashire (including Merseyside and Greater Manchester north of the River Mersey).  Thanks go to Tom Richards and Jeff Johnson for the effort they put into organising and running the events.  

There were excellent matches in all age groups, with the girls under 14 singles semi-final standing out, where Becky Hurst and Stephanie Hall ran Nicola Poole and Emily Miller to the wire.  Congratulations to all players.  Winners and runners-up were as follows:

UNDER 12 WINNERS RUNNERS-UP
Boys Singles Tom Wolfenden Robbie McDonald
Girls Singles Becky Hurst Lizzie Balmforth
Boys Doubles Michael Johnston & Tom Wolfenden Zach Rothwell & Lewis Foster
Girls Doubles Becky Hurst & Danya Lewis Lizzie Balmforth & Sarah Kenny
     
UNDER 14    
Boys Singles Michael Mellor Nicholas Shoreman
Girls Singles Nicola Poole Emily Miller
Boys Doubles Michael Mellor & Jack Foster Nicholas Shoreman & Guy Mullarkey
Girls Doubles Emily Miller & Stephanie Hall Nicola Poole & Becky Hurst
     
UNDER 16    
Boys Singles Darren Hosegood Tom Dickinson
Girls Singles Laura Walsh Amanda Barrett
Boys Doubles David Kenny & Danny Dickin Jonathan Lunt & Paul Maguire
Girls Doubles Laura Walsh & Stephanie Taylor Amanda Barrett & Lucinda Wing

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Local Successes
15th September 2003

On the weekend of 6th/7th September at the Llangenfeld under 19 international in Germany (the first major European under 19 of the year) two Lancashire lads did us proud.  Tom Dunlop (still under 17) won the singles, justifying his number 1 seeding.  Harry Wright, partnering Jenny Wallwork from Yorkshire, won the mixed doubles.

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Hatful of Lancs Juniors Awarded 'Grade 2' Status
27th August 2003

No fewer than seven of Lancashire's best juniors at Under 13 have been made 'Grade 2' players by the Schools & Youth Board of the Badminton Association of England.  The grading system (Grades 1 to 4) replaces the previous Premier, Intermediate and Standard grades used to place tournament players in the right events.

Grade 2 players are selected from performances in the previous season (2002/3) and numbers are limited to around 40 boys and 40 girls nationally.  Players are considered by the selectors to be the "most experienced and successful county players".

Lancs players are:

Philip Aspinall *
Kristian Byrne *
Daniel Wolfenden
Stephanie Hall *
Becky Hurst *
Emily Miller
Nicola Poole

* Players still aged Under 12

By comparison, Yorkshire have 8 players rated as U13 Grade 2 and Cheshire have 3 (Matthew Nottingham, Tara Priestley and Hayley Rogers).

The Schools & Youth Board elected to have no Grade 1 players (selected elite players) at U13 at this stage.  Grade 3 players are "experienced county and tournament circuit players" including those that played more than 2 BAofE sanctioned tournaments last season.  Grade 4 players are county squad and tournament players new to the tournament circuit.

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New Lancashire in U13 York Mixed
15th June 2003

Selection for the U13 York "Cerryg Davies" Team Mixed Event was based on the new Lancashire Juniors county boundary for the first time.  Played on Saturday 7th June at the York Railway Institute, this is an event run to promote mixed, the least popular format for our junior players.  Given, also, that many of our players had not met prior to the event, the achievement of 2nd place overall, pushing the powerful Lothian into 3rd, made it a really successful day.

This is a team event but each pair achieves a final individual position, gaining points for the team.  Yorkshire were as strong as ever and came 1st overall.  From the 37 pairs present, Lancashire, playing in their brand new county shirts, finished as follows:

Emily Miller (Southport) & Gary Fox (Manchester)

5th

Nicola Poole (Formby) & Michael Mellor (St. Helens) 7th
Holly Richards (Southport) & Ross Little (Bury) 10th
Nathalie Phillips (Formby) & Daniel Wolfenden (Maghull) 31st

Credit goes to the boys who gave superb support and encouragement to the less experienced girls as they adjusted to the mixed format and visibly improved over the day.  Ross won a special award for best sportsmanship (boys).  Well done all!

Morris & White (Yorkshire) were the overall winners, with Gabbi White successfully defending her title (with a different partner to last year).

b_l13mx1.jpg (110691 bytes) Lancashire U13 Team
Back: Ross Little, Gary Fox, Michael Mellor, Daniel Wolfenden
Front: Emily Miller, Nathalie Phillips, Holly Richards, Nicola Poole
b_l13mx2.jpg (106295 bytes)
b_l13mx3.jpg (90628 bytes) Sue Foster presents the shield to the overall winners 

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U11 Singles Challenge National Finals
15th June 2003

Saturday 8th June saw the finals of the U11 Singles Challenge held at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.  In order to qualify for the finals, counties had to send their best players to the regional competition, which for the North of England, was held at Rotherham on 11th May 2003 (see Merseyside report below).  There, players had to finish in the top 6 to go through to the National Finals.  Four local players qualified for the finals:

Four regional competitions took place, thus bringing 24 boys and 24 girls together for the finals.

Boys

The 1st round of the finals were organised in pools of 4.  Philip won all 3 of his games, this meant that he went through to the second round in first place.  Kristian played extremely well winning 2 games and only losing the 3rd to Surrey’s No.1.

The 2nd rounds were organised in pools of 6, with both boys making the top 2 pools.  Philip again won all his games with notable victories over Surreys No.1 and Matthew Nottingham of Greater Manchester.  Kristian battled well to win 3 out of 5 games, only losing to Leicestershire’s & Avon’s No.1’s.

The final round was organised in pools of 4.  Kristian played two of his best games of the day in the final round, beating Surrey’s No.1 11-6 after previously losing to him in the earlier round, and also won his second game 11-9.  Philip’s first game was against Chris Coles (Avon’s No.1) and after a long hard battle, came out on top winning 11-10.  He then had one final game against Leicestershire’s No.1 in which he won 11-5. This meant that Philip had 10 straight wins making him National Champion.

The boys final National Rankings are:

Girls

The format for the girls competition was exactly the same as the boys with the 1st round organised in pools of 4.  Both Becky and Stephanie won 2 out of the 3 games in the 1st round, with both thus making the top two pools in the 2nd round, ensuring a top half final placing.

In the second round both girls found the going very tough and despite some hard fought games both finished in 6th place.  In the final round Becky and Stephanie were both in the 3rd pool which meant that they had to play each other. Stephanie on this occasion came out on top winning 11-7.

The girls final National Rankings are:

As well as the competition being an individual event, all players were playing for their respective regions.  The North of England Team (Northern Knights) accumulated a massive 217 points beating Slough into second place by a margin of 78 points and so winning the team event with all members receiving winning medals.

The day was enjoyed by all players and was said to be the highest standard of play seen for many years.  Congratulations to all 4 of our players.

U11 North of England Team outside the NBC, Milton Keynes

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Good News
6th June 2003

Lancashire based players have had some real successes in end of season tournaments.  At under 13, Ross Little, Gary Fox and Michael Mellor all won through to the Junior Grand Finals in singles and doubles.  All played well and Ross won the singles - superb play Ross.

At under 17 Tom Dunlop, Nick Hodgson and Rebecca Howell competed in a variety of events in the under 17 Junior Grand Finals.  Again all played well and it was an all-Lancs final in the boys singles between Tom and Nick, with Tom going on to win.

Tom and Rebecca also got through to the National under 18 circuit finals.  And guess what - both ended up as winners.  Tom won the mens singles and Rebecca combined with her doubles partner Helen Davies from Cheshire to win the ladies doubles.

Finally, Becky has been invited to the "World Class Start" training days in July & August.  It has been a long haul but her consistency and perseverance this season has finally paid off.

Well played to everyone.

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