Newmarket Badminton Federation’s thirteenth International Badminton tournament was held for the third year at Littleport Leisure Centre over last weekend (18th and 19th of February) with local players competing with players from Birmingham, the Wirral (Cheshire) and a welcome return, from Belgium.
Twelve teams played in two groups of six, each group playing in a round robin i.e. each team playing each other. The Groups followed the Belgian playing categories, the top group being B - County standard and the second group being C - First Division standard and downwards.
Each team consisted of two men and two women, playing Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Doubles. To allow more teams to take part this year, organisers Dawn Butterfield and Trish Thorpe reduced the number of mixed doubles games played, which also had the benefit of fewer games and less elasticated bandages at the end of the event. Dennis Willing seen leaning on his racket on Sunday suggested that even he did get to play enough games by the end of the weekend.
Games were to 15 points so a maximum of 120 points could be scored against each team. The places in each group were determined by the total points scored over the whole weekend, with play from 9am to 5pm (an early night this year) on the Saturday and 9.30am (a bit of a lye-in this year) to 4pm on the Sunday.
Each player had 20 games, a total of 240 overall and enough to keep Top Spin Tennis racket stringing busy over the weekend.
In a very strong B group, the “Posh Scousers” (Steve Aylott, Lucy Hunter, Nikki Ridges plus last minute substitute, St Ives’ Stephen Pickering) were in commanding form, scoring two of the three maximum points, against Melbourn All Sorts and Mix ‘n’ Match. Victory was sealed by convincingly beating contenders All Rounders by 115-94 in the last round, to retain their title. Scousers’ Ladies pair Lucy Hunter and Nikki Ridges were unbeaten in the event, although Dawn Butterfield and Natalie Dave ran them close with games to 13 and 14 and themselves had inflicted the only 15-0 defeat in the group, against Ely Victoria’s Mandy Moore and Karen Partridge, whose team (John Brindle and Giles Taylor) fought hard, finishing in fifth place on 412 points. The Scousers’ 573 points were well clear of second place Peterborough Pearlers’ (including Liz Wainwright and Sheila Thiam) on 519 points with their men’s pair of Kevin Barron and James Salmon unbeaten. The All Rounders (including Ely Victoria’s Gareth Gibbs and Newmarket’s Ollie Simms) were a painfully close 4 points behind them, having lost against the Scousers and by those very crucial 4 points against the Pearlers. Melbourn Allsorts (Nicky Lewis, Faye Gregory, Trevor “Mr Legs” Lunnon and Didier Geerolf) finished fourth on 463 points, including the only other maximum points score against Mix ‘n’ Match (Louise Tarbitt, Viv Winders, Chris Derueddre and Jean-Paul Vlaminck) who finished sixth and well off the pace with 292 points and the lowest scores of 49 and 50 points.
All the teams in the C group had different strengths and weaknesses which lead to no maximum points scores. Last year’s champions, Harvey’s Howlers, kept everyone’s scores down with the strength of the men’s pairing of Colin Brown and John Harvey but their ladies, Charlotte Willing and Julia Harvey (playing her first ever competitive badminton) found the going tougher and the team finished fifth on 400 points, although they did register the highest score against the eventual winners. Sandwiched around them were Littleport B (Debbie Walters, Jane Lilleywhite, Ian Ferguson substituting for Tim Neaves and Danny Clarke) on 361 points and in fourth place Littleport A (Karen Sabell, Sue Monigatti, Norman “Mr Net Chord” Ferguson and Alastair King) on 425 points. Although between them they suffered the lowest scores of 49 and 50 points, at least the Littleport A men’s pairing of Ferguson and King had the satisfaction of being the only pair to take a game (15-14) off Brown and Harvey. Birmingham based Colley Lane BC’s almost unbeaten mixed pairing of Andy Hall and Audrey Totness (who just dropped one game against Willing's mob) helped them to third place (together with team members Colin Edwards and Karen Thorpe) on 452 points. Top two contenders going into the last round were Willing’s Mob and last year’s runners up Brothie's Gang (previously Dicko’s kids but with John Dickinson now retired to Spain, Martin Little assisted Simon Martin, Angela Anderson and Lisa Brotherton). Unfortunately the Gang, as in last year’s final round, were beaten, this time by just 4 points so they finished 6 points adrift on 544 points and Willing’s Mob (St. Phillips Dean Richardson, Dennis Willing and Swavesey’s Carol Pelling and Sue Hoyland) took the title with 550 points, including the group’s top score of 116.
As this is proving to be a very popular event entry forms for next year’s event on 17th and 18th February 2007 are already available and can be found on the Newmarket Badminton Federation website.