A flurry of last minute entries for the Broadland Junior Open for the U11, U15 & U19 age categories enabled all of the age groups to be contested, and contributed towards some competitive matches and nail-biting finishes to some of the age groups. The U11age groups saw players travel in from the North, South and Midlands to compete in 2 best of 5 matches each. Two East Region players, Emma Logan and Rawdon Prothero, however managed to win their age groups without dropping a game, with Brady MacKenzie in particular pushing Rawdon very close during their match. Emma impressively adding the Girls U11 title to the girls U13 title which she won earlier in the month.
Girls U11 Final Placings;-
1. Emma Logan (Suffolk), 2. Tolisha Kavi Warnakulasooriya (Yorkshire), 3. Georgia Venier (London). Boys U11 Final Placings;-
1. Rawdon Prothero (Cambs), 2. Brady MacKenzie (Norfolk), 3. Harry Stevens (Warwickshire)
The Girls U15’s produced an extremely close set of matches in one of the first round box groups with 3 girls all ending up with 2 wins each from their 3 matches, Lucy Cox, Hannah Morely & Olivia Broderick. The box winner being decided by virtue of Lucy gaining an all important game in her 2-1 loss to Olivia Broderick, with all other matches ending 2-0. This put Lucy in a position to compete in the Final whilst relegating Olivia to 5th-6th place play-off. The other box group saw local player Jodie Dowe put in 2 commanding 3-0 performances to produce an all Norfolk Final. Jodie carried on the good work with another 3-0 win to claim the title, with Lucy finishing in a very creditable second place. A strong performance from both Norfolk girls. Girls U15 Final Placings;-
1. Jodie Dowe (Norfolk), 2. Lucy Cox (Norfolk), 3. Rachel Harris (Surrey), 4. Hannah Morely (Essex),5. Olivia Broderick (Essex), 6. Daisy Newton (Essex), 7. Libby Connor (Essex)
The Boys U15 saw another player returning to compete for a second Broadland title. James Kettle had comfortably won the Boys U13 title previously, and returned to do the same thing in the Boy’s U15 event, winning all of his 4 matches 2-0, not dropping more than 6 points in any one game. The other matches were all more closely contested, with several going to the deciding game. Mumin Bilen just claiming the runner up position with 3 wins from 4 matches. Boys U15 Final Placings;-
1. James Kettle (Bucks), 2. Mumin Bilen (Cambs), 3. Thomas Ballard (Sussex), 4. Jack Stevens (Warwickshire), 5. Christopher Nixon (Norfolk).
Norfolk were also strongly represented in the Girls U19’s with Regional players Katie Cox & Bonnie Butler both competing. The Norfolk girls started very strongly with 2 commanding 3-0 wins over Elli Barrott (Essex) & Aramelia Prothero (Cambs). Bonnie followed this up with another comfortable 3-0 win whilst Katie was pushed into the fifth game by a much improved Aramelia. Although Katie reached match ball at 10-9, Aramelia completed her resurgence by taking the match 12-10. Despite Katie’s defeat this series of matches had put the Norfolk girls in pole position to compete for first and second place in their final match. Katie took the first 2 games comfortably, but Bonnie responded with a dominant 3rd game dropping only 2 points. She then also took control of the fourth game but crucially failed to clinch 4 game balls before Katie completed her comeback to take the game 16-14 and the girls U19 Title. A great match, and rivalry that is likely to continue into the future. Aramelia completed her matches with a strong 3-0 win to finish a very close third, and Elli Barrott fourth.
Girls U19 Final Placings;-
1. Katie Cox (Norfolk), 2. Bonnie Butler (Norfolk), 3. Aramelia Prothero (Cambs), 4. Elli Barrott (Essex).
Norfolk were also well represented in the Boys U19 event with 7 Norfolk players, playing against 2 youngsters from Surrey and Cambs. In the first round of matches Robert Thirst and Malik Bilen duly recorded two 2-0 wins to proceed to the winners round robin group, but 16 year old Ben Harris from Surrey almost provided the biggest upset of the day by taking 2nd seed William Henden to match ball in the second game. Will saved this to take the game 13-11, but then had to save 3 more before finally scraping through 16-14 in the third. A superb effort from Ben, but also great resilience from William when not quite at his best. Elsewhere Kye McCourt-Hall had a great match against Jack Pritchard winning 12-10 in the third, and the other Norfolk players gained valuable Tournament experience.
Kye followed this up with another 2-1 win over Norfolk Junior Liam Bond to take 4th place after Ben Harris withdrew after his earlier efforts. Similarly Robert Thirst also withdrew following a biking accident earlier in the week. This left William to compete with Malik Bilen for the Boys U19 title. Although the match was close Will duly completed his comeback with a 13/11, 11/8 win for the third Norfolk win of the day.
Boys U19 Final Placings;-
1. William Henden (Norfolk), 2. Makik Bilen (Cambs), 3. Robert Thirst (Norfolk), 4. Kye McCourt-Hall (Norfolk), 5. Liam Bond (Norfolk), 6. Ben Harris (Surrey), 7. Jack Pritchard (Norfolk), 8. Alex Hagag (Norfolk), 9. Andreas George Champos-Hardy (Norfolk).
Although some great and very close matches took place, my most endearing memory of the day will be that whenever I looked onto what I thought was an empty court, no matter what time of day it was, I would always find one player there, in a red shirt, happily hitting the ball back to himself. Sometimes I would swear he would be on 2 courts at the same time. Always smiling, happy and courteous. That lad was Alex Hagag from Norfolk. A lad that I had not met before, but someone I hope to see on court again at some point in the future, just playing and enjoying squash.
Many thanks to Jake Bond for his assistance on the Tournament desk, for the parents kind enough to help with marking duties when required, and for all the players and parents for your participation.
Thanks also to Fruitypot & Jellysqueeze. Website www.fruitypotfamily.co.uk for their generous event sponsorship. I hope you enjoyed the products and can take advantage of their online discount voucher.