Another hard-fought International Badminton team tournament was held over the weekend of 26th and 27th February 2011, organised by Newmarket Badminton Federation, with local league players competing with others from further a field such as Peterborough, Birmingham, Shropshire, the Wirral (Cheshire) and a large contingent from Belgium.
So that more players could take part in this, the eighteenth consecutive year of this event, as well as playing at Littleport Leisure Centre (for the eighth year), the tournament expanded into King’s School and the Paradise Sports centre in Ely. This meant that entries could increase from last year’s sixteen to twenty four teams, which amounted to some 100 players, including substitutes.
Teams played in three groups, based on the Belgian playing categories from B, the top group and County standard through to C1 and C2, both still very decent standard. Each group played in a round robin basis i.e. each team, consisting of two men and two women, playing each other in Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Doubles. Games used the rally point scoring system up to 21 points only (for the Men’s and Ladies’) and 15 points (for the Mixed), so no setting. Maximum scores attainable in each match therefore being 204 points. The places in each group were determined by the total points scored over the whole weekend, with play from 9am to 7pm on the Saturday and from 9am to 4pm on Sunday.
The number of games doubled from last year to 720 games. Players had to survive 30 games each and unfortunately several didn’t make it so we hope that they make early and full recoveries and thank those who substituted for them (the record going to Richard Smith with two extra rounds, taking his tally to 42 games over the weekend).
Many thanks also go to “Top Spin Tennis” for helping with some of the fallout racket stringing and Phil May for organising this year’s successful badminton and social event (a tasty Hog roast on the Saturday night at Stuntney Village Hall).
Although players were shuffled into different teams this year, it was the usual suspects who battled for supremacy in the B group. Last year’s runners-up, playing then as “Budgie Bashers” but this year as “(Shuttle)Cock-tales” James Wilson and Anna Bosworth joined by Sam Scharf and Sara Mason were convincing winners, with two of only four maximum points scores over the whole weekend and 59 points clear on 979. The remaining “Basher” Gareth Gibbs, playing as “The (Shuttle)Cock chasers” with new team members Chris Parrot, Jo Hughes and Xiang Li made it an Ely Victoria-based one-two on 920 points including one maximum against Bonded Part 2, but the 194 to 144 point loss against the winners effectively decided the final outcome. Didier Geerolf, playing as “Roeselare A” maintained his consistency, again finishing third, the same as last year as “Shuttle chasers”, albeit with a completely new team of Richard Smith (personally moving up the table from last year’s fifth), Heide Weise and Ely Victoria’s Louise Tarbot. Their 886 points included the best score of 162 points against the group winners. Last year’s winners "Posh Scousers" (Steve Aylott and Nikki Lewis joined this year by Wayne Merry and Lily Hickson) slid to fourth place on 858 points, suffering a lot of damage against the top two teams, including surprisingly going down 204 to 133 against the group winners. Then, a bit off the pace on 748 points, Franky Velle and Erica Hempens’s team “Roeselare B”, joined by Jentse Vlaminck and Hurst’s Carol Salmon - substitute Yu Ping Chen, slid one place with Bonded Part 2 (Matthew and Robert Bond, Hurt’s Dianne Baker and Jo Little) just 30 points behind on 718 points.
By far the closest group was C2 with only 15 points separating the top 4 teams. Winners were “JLS & Cheeky Girl” (Jack Devenport, Adam Dukes, Louise Collins and Stacey Horne) on 910 points just 2 points ahead of “New All Sports” (Linton’s Jason Hodges plus Jon Fletcher, Susan Adams and Chris Key) on 908 point, despite getting the only maximum in the group and beating the winners by 9 points, but JLS & Cheeky Girl” beat “Alisabenjo” by 11 points more to swing it in their favour. “Alisabenjo” (Alex Bowers, Lisa Brotherton, Ben Maynard and Jo Sriskandan) finished equal third on 895 points, although “Dennis’ Demons” (Linton’s Dennis Willing, Janet Symonds, Nishil Dhabi and Steph Deroo) finished on the same number of points including best scores against the top two teams and, using the count back of points conceded would finish above "Alisabenjo" by just 9 points. Not far behind were “Martin’s marvels” (Linton’s Martin Little and St Phillips’ Phil May - substitute Reg Day, Karyn Duggan and Robynne George) on 847 points but well off the pace on 707 points were “Roeselare C” (Daniel Ducat, St Phillips’ Colin Brown, Heidi Vanwelsenaers and Hurt’s Xin Xheng).
The mid-section C1 category had the most entries so played in two groups with no one team dominating and not a single maximum scored.
However, in C1 (A) after sliding the last couple of years Harvey’s Howlers (St Phillips’ John Harvey, Sue McKeown joined by Sue Daines-Smith and St Ives' John Pickering - substitute Martyn Clark) came back with a vengeance, remaining undefeated to win the group with 954 points and the group’s top score of 199 points. They also recorded probably their first ever win over “Lye-ability” (Lloyd Truman, Niel Raybould, Hayley Pugh and Jane Brown) who finished in second place not far behind on 915 points. Some 54 points behind them, in third place, were “Viva Brugges” (Dries Devolder, Anuj Jari, Julia De Paepe and Marieke Allewaert) on 861 points, with “The Pheasant Pluckers” (Philip Buckley, Paul Scrivens, Millie Hewitt and Stephanie Cartwright-Randle - substitute Stephanie Jurewts) on 850 points heading the remaining three closely packed teams – “De Dumontjes” (Robin and Glenn Dumon, Isabelle Tavernier and Hilde Laridon) on 823 points and “Rik's Raiders” (Rik van Mullen, Rudy Vermeersch, Diana Demeyere and Dann Claeys) on 776 points.
Having served their time last year in the B group, “Totally Smashed” (Mark Stephens, Richard Parkes, Ann Chambers and Carol Kibbler and substitute) were again in contention for the C1 title in the other C1 (B) group and finished well on 950 points, but with a very close finish were just four points shy of “Cookie’s Crew” (Pearl’s Andy Cook, Martin Smith, Emma Best and Angela Sharman) on 954 points including the group’s highest score (but still not a maximum) of 203 points. The four points difference included net two from the 178-176 win by “Cookie’s” over “Totally”. Despite recording two of this group's highest scores (202) the “Try hards-die hards” (Ely Victoria’s Martyn Clark, Chris Meager, Dawn Butterfield and Trish Thorpe) couldn’t quite handle the top two teams and the points dropped made the difference for third place, finishing on 903 points. The other three teams were close together, but well behind these top three last year’s C1 winners “Oddballs” (Andy Hall, Fred Hammer, Glynis Colesby and June Totney) on 801 points, then “Crossways” (Paul Hilditch, Simon Parker, Hazel Greetham and Lisa Lim) on 773 points just two points clear of “BBC” (Kurt Ghyllebert, Carine Spruytte and Swavesey’s Sue Hoyland “chewing up and spitting out” her partners John Harvey, Philip Smith and Richard Smith, substituting for the unfortunately ill Chris Dereuddre) on 771 points.
Time did not allow for a play-off between the two group winners so plan B was to decide on points, but with both scoring 954 (what are the odds?) with the fewer points conceded 756 to 790 Cookie’s Crew were declared winners and Harvey’s Howlers as runners-up.
The next event will be held over the weekend of 25th and 26th February 2012 and details will be on www.newmarketbadmintonfederation.org.uk (international page).