The annual under-15 badminton inter-county match was played at Clickimin at the weekend with the outcome swinging in Orkney’s favour for the first time in recent years.
Despite an overall defeat in the 36-match competition, the young Shetland players put on a creditable performance, producing a high standard of play and entertaining a large, enthusiastic and appreciative audience. All 12 players took part in two games of singles, one level doubles and one mixed doubles.
First on court was young Sophie Baert, who is actually still eligible to play in the under-13 age group. Although she faced an older opponent in Joanne Pirie, Sophie settled into the game quickly, playing consistent shots and pushing her opponent into the rear of the court. This allowed her to take the first game 21-13.
Although Joanne came out fighting in the second set, Sophie stuck to her game plan of moving her opponent around the court until she could use her power smash to win the point and safely secured her win in two straight sets.
Ashley Govier stepped on to the court for his Shetland debut and although a little nervous, he worked hard and chased down every shuttle. Despite losing to Thorfinn Miller, he produced some fine rallying and deft touches at the net, as well as displaying a determined and gritty approach.
Yell’s young Dean Guthrie produced one of the many “nail-bitingly close” three-setters of the day. This was an enthralling game with some excellent play from both young players. There were some spectacular rallies with both players making full use of the whole court. In the final set, it was Andrew Reid from Orkney who took the opportunity to finish the match with a winning smash.
Shannon Hughson from Shetland faced the powerful Abbie Lyall, with both girls having a nervy start to the match. Shannon settled first and produced some very good clears to force her opponent deep and take the match in two straight sets.
Kerry Mcgregor and Zoe Buchanan faced tough opponents but both showed true resilience and a willingness to work hard and dig deep when under pressure. Also, both girls would later have revenge on their opponents with Zoe and Sophie Baert taking their girls’ doubles game comfortably, and Kerry, partnered by Harry Morton, putting on a winning display of mature mixed doubles against the Orkney number three pairing.
Back to the singles, however, and Eoin Leask showed by his performance that his match development has matured this year. He played his game with a steady and calm attitude in what was a tight, close first set. He then used a vast array of shots to secure the win in two sets.
Harry Morton faced the very fast and accurate Liam Delday from Orkney, and was forced into a defensive game in the first set, allowing Liam to dictate most of the rallies and take the first end. In the second set Harry adopted a more aggressive mind set, forcing his opponent into unusual errors and allowing Harry to play his winning shots. However, after a hard battle, Liam’s speed and accuracy won the day.
Lynsey Morrison was on court next, facing a sprightly opponent in Ami Garriock. This proved to be a marathon of a match going all the way to three sets and to a final score of 30-28 in the last. All of the home crowd were delighted that it was Lynsey who held her nerve and had the energy to take the crucial last few points and claim the match.
Meanwhile the second boys’ doubles was no less of an entertaining clash of two young talented players. Liam Flaws faced a slightly older and more experienced opponent in Owen Reid, with both boys displaying an array of power and touch play, aggression and defensive skills.
It was a close game being played point for point until 13-13. At this point Liam made a few unforced errors which allowed his opponent to take the first set. However, Liam was able to adapt and change his game in the second set, bravely pouncing on every opening he made to pressure his opponent.
This more aggressive approach rattled Owen and Liam battled to take the second set. Even in the final set both players produced some enormously long rallies and some excellent, tactical play. Although disappointed to lose the match, Liam displayed a good fighting spirit and will definitely learn a lot about match play from this encounter.
The last two singles games on court were Karrie Fraser and Rory Irvine. Karrie was a little disappointed in her own result and performance. Although she played very well during the rallies, showing a good level of power as well as improving touch shots, it was an off-day with her serving continually put her at a slight disadvantage as she went into the rallies.
Rory had a very hard task against the experienced Matthew Reid and despite his best efforts and never-say-die attitude, the Orkney number one boy claimed the match to give his team a solid 8-4 lead after the first round of singles.
Nonetheless, the Shetland team knew that there were another 24 matches to be played and they continued to put up a good fight.
In the girls’ doubles the result went in Shetland’s favour 2-1 while Orkney took the mixed doubles event 5-1. In the boys’ doubles it was Ashley Govier and Dean Guthrie’s thrilling three set match that claimed the one winning match for Shetland.
The Shetland coaches praised all their young players for their performances. Each displayed a combination of improved play, resilience and determination when under pressure and the ability to put into practice all the things worked on during the training sessions throughout the season.
The coaches also thanked the staff at Clickimin who worked very hard to accommodate the match and all its spectators as well as the complication of running over time due to the high number of close three set games.
The match was rounded off when young Scott Smith, the under-11 boys’ champion, and his dad, Ian, presented the Rob Anderson Cup to Orkney captains Ami Garriock and Owen Reid.