By Hugh Ainsley
The SSBU Secondary Schools National Championships were held on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March.
With Bells Sports Centre in Perth no longer being available for the event, the committee have been struggling to find a venue suitable for the championships – this year we decided to try Grange Academy in Kilmarnock.
The main sports hall had 8 courts on a good clean floor with plenty additional space for the tournament desk and tombola stall. The two additional courts were in one gymnasium just along the corridor and were also excellent courts. The centre provided an excellent cafeteria with good food at a good price and technical support was on hand to ensure our internet and software all worked well. Unfortunately entries were down on last year and this meant that we were able to delay the start a little on both days and still finish by 5PM.
Boys events were held on the Saturday starting with singles. In the junior event, three of the four seeds progressed to the semis without dropping a set. Rory Meldrum was put out in the quarter final by his doubles partner Rory Clelland. The final was a tight match with local boy Max McCabe (Prestwick Academy) gaining a 21-13, 19-21, 21-11 victory over Charlie Junnor (Glasgow School of Sport).
In the intermediate event all 8 seeds reached the quarter finals but Malik Clowes (Tobermory High) was on form and fought his way past ¾ seed Finn Callister (Glasgow School of Sport) and then 2nd seeded Ewan Stewart (Boclair Academy) before eventually losing the final to 1st seed Lewis Smith (Bishopriggs Academy).
The senior event also went along with seeding although Godfrey Antomarlin (High School of Glasgow) had a good victory in the semi-final beating Callan Short (High School of Dundee) 18-21,21-14, 21-14. The title however was won by Josh Taylor (Hyndland Secondary) although he had to fight hard for his place in the final with the score line against Theo Johnston (Currie High) in the semi being 22-20, 18-21, 21-19.
On to doubles where the junior event was won by Rory Clelland & Rory Meldrum with a 21-18,21-11 victory over the local boys from Prestwick – Max McCabe & Matthew Copland.
In the intermediate event there were 14 pairs so first seeded pair Finn Callister & Ryan Macdonald (Glasgow School of Sport) progressed to the quarter finals without playing a match. In the quarters they came up against Malik Clowes who had already performed well in the singles. Malik was partnered by Joris Hutton and this pair caused an upset by putting out the top seeds 21-15, 21-18. Finn & Ryan went on to win the consolation event but Malik & Joris lost in the semi to eventual winners Callum McWhirter & Finlay Murdoch (Elgin Academy).
There were 6 pairs in the senior event where Josh Taylor continued his success by partnering Vincent Cheung and winning the event without dropping a set.
On to Sunday where we started with the mixed doubles. For the schools championships players must play with a partner from their own school and it was great to see lots of family pairings. The disadvantage of the school pairing is that entries are lower as many players can’t find a partner in their school but this is the only event where this rule is applied and gives a true school championships. For the junior event there were only 3 pairs entered but with Melrick Dsouza sustaining an injury just before the event there was only one match which became the final. Aahil Ahmed & Shreya Vergheese from St. Ninian’s put up a good fight but School of Sport pairing Rory Clelland & Shona Brown were just too strong for them winning the event 21-9, 21-13.
On to the intermediates where Matthew Brown & Iona Aitken (Williamwood High) had put out 2nd seeds Ciaran Hope & Esther Meldrum (Glasgow School of Sport) in the semi-final and fought hard in the final before losing out to first seeded Lucas Chin & Thenoo Annamalai (Hutcheson’s Grammar) 17-21,21-18,21-13. Of the 10 pairs entered for the senior event, 5 pairs were brother and sister.
It proved a good day for Lewis Smith with sister Lauren (Bishopriggs Academy) as they managed to defeat 2nd seeded Malik & Nuria Clowes in the semi before going on to take the title by defeating first seeded Ewan & Katie Stewart (Boclair Academy) 22-24, 21-14, 21-13.
For this event, prizes were presented by MSP Carol Mochan who had come in to see how the event was getting on. For all other events, prizes were presented by Margaret Gaw as a tribute to the work of Robert who had been involved in running the event for many years.
The girls singles draw followed the seeding all the way resulting in a victory for Qing Yang Xiao (George Heriot’s). This pattern was repeated in the intermediate event but top seed Deepti Vijayakumar (St. George’s) had to work hard in the final with a 20-22, 21-15, 21-14 victory over 2nd seed Tsz Ying Lee (St. Maurice’s).
On to the senior event where again the top 2 seeds reached the final with Vibha Raman (St. George’s) taking the title.
With entries being low, 2 of the 3 girls doubles events had to be played as a pool. The junior event was won by Qing Yang Xiao pairing up with Ingrid Wang. The intermediate event did have 6 pairs and went according to seeding with Glasgow School of Sport pair Shona Brown and Esther Meldrum taking the title.
With Deepti taking the intermediate girls singles and Vibha taking the senior it was no great surprise that the two of them went on to take the senior doubles title.
Despite the lower entry compared to last year, the event was a great success. No rest for the dedicated organisers however with the primary inter area at Wishaw next weekend!
Badminton Scotland would like to thank all organisers and volunteers who made sure this event ran smoothly and could be enjoyed by all players.