By Lanarkshire Badminton
It was a weekend of celebration and joy for the Lanarkshire Senior County Team. The team gained promotion to the Championship as part of the Badminton England Senior County Championships from Division 1 North. This was a special occasion to cherish with the team rounding off in what has been an impressive display throughout the 2022/23 season.
Badminton England’s National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes, the home of English Badminton, hosted what would be an exhilarating weekend of play. First opened in 1999 the venue hosts an eight court badminton hall, health club, bar, restaurant, conference rooms and on-site accommodation.
It was a team of 8 (4 male and 4 female) which would aim to propel Lanarkshire back into the Championship after previously being in the Premiership in 2008/09 and 2009/10 and Championship 6 years prior. This included team managers Kirsten Berry and Robert Dunn along with Toni Woods, Sophie Ford, Jennifer Lafferty, Anthony McGuire, Danny Robson and Jack MacGregor. With the heartbreak of last year’s result in narrowly missing out on promotion, the team were keen to put things right this time in gaining promotion to the Championship – and they did just that!
First opponents were Hertfordshire 2 who had earned their playoff place after finishing second in Division 1 South. Lanarkshire’s Danny Robson was pushed all way in the opening Men’s Singles 1 rubber however eventually took the match 19-21, 21-12, 21-7. This was followed by a victory for Jack MacGregor in Men’s Singles 2 giving Lanarkshire an early 2-0 lead. As anticipated, Toni Woods and Sophie Ford helped double the score with wins respectively within the Women’s Singles rubbers. The next rubber saw Danny Robson team up with county veteran Robert Dunn in the Men’s Singles 1 with a nervy opening set – winning 24-22 then 21-15. Jack MacGregor and Anthony McGuire would then secure the match with a three set combat in the Men’s Doubles 2 – 21-15, 16-21, 21-15. The Lanarkshire team with the assistance of captain Kirsten Berry and Jennifer Lafferty continued the excellent form to take the match 11-2.
The next fixture would prove to be a tough test for Lanarkshire against Suffolk who were first place in the Division 1 South league. The line up remained fairly unchanged with only exception in the Mixed Doubles’ rubbers with Berry & MacGregor and Lafferty & Dunn partnering up. On the run up to these rubbers, Lanarkshire were in the ascendency being 5-3 ahead with wins from Robson, MacGregor & Ford in the Singles complimented by victories in the level doubles rubbers too. This included Berry & Ford clinching the match 21-16, 21-18 in the Women’s Doubles 2. Berry & MacGregor were then involved in a tense encounter with Suffolk’s Dennis & Scott and ended up winning 21-19, 19-21, 21-19. Lafferty & Dunn then battled out the remaining rubber to bring the overall score 8-3 to Lanarkshire.
The third and final match of the playoffs saw Lanarkshire face off against Division 1 North rivals Gloucestershire once again – a chance for the opposition to get a rematch! Robson came out on top as he faced off against Gloucestershire’s Jamie Pearcy in the Men’s Singles who had beaten Robson in their last encounter. It was quite the display, with Robson winning 29-27, 19-21, 21-17. It was a clean sweep in the Women Singles’ rubbers Woods & Ford giving Lanarkshire the lead 3-2. Gloucestershire continued to fight taking the Men’s Doubles 1 and Women’s Doubles 1 rubbers despite MacGregor & McGuire picking up a win the doubles, extending Lanarkshire’s lead. This brought the score to 4-3. It was valiant effort from Woods & Lafferty in Women’s Doubles narrowly lost in 3 sets although Berry & Ford clinching the victory – it was now 5-4 to Lanarkshire. The next tie was crucial, but Lafferty & MacGregor managed to hold their nerve and secure promotion with a impressive win. Also Berry & McGuire rounded off a successful weekend and season with a win for Lanarkshire, taking the match 7-4.
Kirsten Berry, Team Manager and Captain said:
‘‘We have had a strong team all year to get us to the playoffs and the team gave everything at the weekend. I am very proud of team spirit and effort shown across the f
ull season and we are looking forward to competing in the Championship next season’’
Jill Smith, Group Convenor added:
‘‘On behalf of Lanarkshire Badminton Group I would like to congratulate the senior county team on their recent promotion. These matches are always challenging and to continue in such a successful fashion is commendable. I would also like to personally thank Kirsten for managing the team and generate such good team spirit. Best wishes for the forthcoming season’’
There is a lot of work behind the scenes, so credit must go to Team Managers Kirsten Berry & Robert Dunn for their commitment to organising and managing the team across the full season – from securing sponsorship, sourcing team kit and arranging travel/accommodation. Of course a special thanks to all the players who were involved across the full season and contributed to such a fantastic achievement for the Lanarkshire county – managing to maintain 100% winning record of 10 out 10 wins and gaining promotion to the Championship.
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