Round up: 2023 Bill Neill Lanarkshire Open

By Lanarkshire Badminton

The 2023 Bill Neill Lanarkshire Open provided a thrilling and action packed weekend of badminton with 74 competitors taking part – 50 male and 24 female.  The event took place on 16th & 17th September at Wishaw Sports Centre with lots of great matches on display.

Number one seed Matthew Waring was tournament favourite in the Men’s Singles event.  Waring was pushed all the way by both Angus Meldrum (21-18, 21-18) & Finlay Jack (10-21, 21-16, 21-19) in a series of intense rallies throughout their matches.  In the other half of the draw, Glasgow School of Sport graduates Ciar Pringle & Joshua Apiliga met in the Quarter Finals with Pringle edging the win over Apiliga 21-15, 22-20.  Pringle then overcame Ganesh Balaji who is now a semi-finalist two years in a row, 21-12, 21-11 to progress to the final.  The final between Pringle & Waring proved to be a fantastic spectacle with Pringle coming out on top 21-14, 21-17.

It was 2023 Scottish Senior Nationals Runner-up Chloe Hunt who advanced to the final in the Women’s Singles after a series of convincing wins.  For Vibha Raman, it was certainly no easy route to the final with a tough opener against Emma Donald 21-15, 22-24, 21-15.  She then had to battle through another three setter against Pranavi Singh.  Despite losing the opening set, Raman stayed on focused and took the match 17-21, 21-12, 21-18.  In the final, Hunt was quickest out the blocks initially taking the opening set 21-11 although Raman showed again her resilience winning the next two sets 21-16 & 24-22 taking the title.

In the Women’s Doubles, 2022 BNLO winners Kirsten Berry and Toni Woods would on this occasion be on opposite sides of the net when they faced each other in the final.  This particular event was played in two round robin group stage pools with 2 pairs from each pool proceeding to the semi-finals.  Berry partnered with Sophie Ford beating Katrina Chan & Eva Tremble in the Semi Final 21-14, 21-11.  The duo of Jennifer Lafferty & Toni Woods in their semi-final got the win over youngsters Tushara Senthilrajaram & Pranavi Singh 21-9, 21-15 setting up an all Lanarkshire Senior County Team final.  This match did certainly live up to expectations, with both pairs fighting hard for the title however it was Berry & Ford who clinched the victory in a three setter 18-21, 21-11, 21-18.

The Men’s Doubles had a variety of partnerships that had the potential to succeed.  Number one seeds Robert Dunn & Ciar Pringle were hoping to use their experience to navigate their way through the rounds and they did just that with convincing wins in the earlier stages.  They would then face 3/4 seeds Danny Robson & Joshua Apiliga who as expected were a strong force together.  It was Apiliga & Robson who nicked it in three sets – 15-21, 22-20, 21-17.  Similarly, Kenneth Cheung & Finlay Sheriff (3/4 seeds) were pushed all the way by Callum Crangle & Jordan Edgar in quarter finals and Ayrshire pair Callum MacMillan & Jack Riddell in the semi-finals – both winning in three sets respectively.  Cheung & Sheriff again had were involved in another three set clash in the Final however Apiliga & Robson came out on top 21-11, 15-21, 21-11 to be crowned champions.

On Sunday, it was the Mixed Doubles event that kicked things off.  Dunn & Berry were looking to retain their title from last year’s event. The experienced pair managed to reach the Semi Final stage however their run came to end with the young partnership of Lewis Coghill & Katrina Chan being victorious – nicking the final set 26-24.  Coghill & Chan progressed to the final taking on second seeds Kenneth Cheung & Jodie Harris where they managed to secure the title 21-10, 21-13.

When reflecting on the weekend Jill Smith, Lanarkshire Badminton Group’s (LBG) Convenor said: ‘‘Lots of competitive games which has been an excellent start to the season.  I am personally delighted to see an all Lanarkshire Women’s Doubles final.  Special mention to tournament organiser Frank Turnbull on organising another fantastic event.  Also, it is very healthy to see so many young competitors taking part in an open event.’’

‘‘We had a strong entry, not quite as strong as last year.  However there has been a high standard of play and sportsmanship and some significantly long matches taking place – the average match time was 29 minutes across 118  matches.  Also witnessed a strong support from Lanarkshire Senior County Players who entered which is great to see supporting their local A Grade competition.  Further to this, we played the finals across 3 courts which created an intimate and exciting atmosphere’’, added Frank Turnbull, LBG’s Tournament Convenor.

Newly recruited LBG Secretary Sam Johnston stated: ‘‘Its been a high standard from the first round with top seeds being pushed from early on.  There is a younger entry from previous which is pleasing to see with a level of youth coming through.  I enjoyed being part of the volunteer team fulfilling various roles and enjoy supporting the group to help run their events’’

Special mention to Lanarkshire Badminton Group volunteers this includes Frank Turnbull, Jill Smith, Pam Casey and Sam Johnston.  We hope that the players enjoyed competing in the event and spectators enjoyed viewing what was a high standard of play as part of an action packed weekend.  We would also like to highlight the effort made by the Badminton Scotland Court Officials team who provided excellent support for the finals on Sunday afternoon. Their presence always makes the showcase matches feel special to the players and spectators.

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