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Published: Thursday, 28 January 2016 11:25

Masters Inter County Challenge Weekend January 2016

Old people still play badminton. Badminton England organise an Inter County League and County Open Tournaments for ‘Masters’ players and also a single weekend event called the Masters County Challenge which is held in early January each year.  This article is about the County Challenge in which all counties enter teams for the various age bands (o40 up to o70) and are then divided into divisions based on standard.  Starting at the top with a Premier division, Divisions 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B. These events are held at various venues around the country. This year Avon entered 4 teams, over 50, over 55, over 60 and over 65's.

This season the only Avon team up in a Premier Division was the o55s who were playing at the Worcester Arena.  The Premier Division contains 7 county teams so each team plays matches against the 6 other teams over the weekend. The format of the competition takes the form of a league with 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. Each tie contains 4 rubbers: 1 ladies doubles, 1 men’s doubles and 2 mixed doubles.

The Jan-2015 County Challenge had finished with Surrey as Champions at over 55, which was their 4th consecutive win, and Avon 55's only just managed to avoid relegation. With an injection of new talent this year, with players moving up from the o50s, hopes were high for a better result.  The outcome for Surrey was painfully familiar so in reality the battle was all about 2nd place and Avon won that battle. So a quick scan of all past winners in all age groups since this competition started in 1986 reveals the fact that no Avon team has ever won, so this was one of the best results for an Avon Masters team in the 30 years of competition. (A second place had also been achieved by an over 60's group a few years ago).  

Our ladies results have often been less successful than our men's and mixed but this weekend the ladies won 3 of their 6 matches, coming close in the other 3 and even taking a game off the strong Surrey pair...well done to Shirley, Dot and Jackie.Jude White played at 1st mixed in all 6 matches winning 5 and competing really well in a hugely watchable match against Ian Purton and Christine Crossley, the top Surrey and England pair, so well done Jude.

Selection is never easy when players in your team have to sit out some matches, but without exception every member of the team accepted all difficult selection decisions selflessly and a great team spirit and morale characterised the whole weekend.

So well done to Avon over 55s, the 2nd placed county team in England.  A brilliant result.

READ MORE...........

Published: Thursday, 28 January 2016 11:30

Scotland v England 2016

 McCoig Trophy International Masters Match

Three Avon Masters players were part of a team of 45, selected to represent England in age categories 40+ to 65+, who travelled to Glasgow to play in the annual Scotland v England Masters International match for the Robert McCoig Trophy played in memory of Scotland's Robert (Bob) McCoig.

Dave Gribble, playing at 55+ Men's singles won his first 'cap'  as did Penny Shears, playing at 65+ Women's Doubles with Val O'Neill, they are pictured above with the Bob McCoig trophy.

The overall score across the age groups was a victory for England 21-5.

Published: Wednesday, 13 January 2016 19:00

Masters Inter County Challenge Weekend January 2016 

Old people still play badminton. Badminton England organise an Inter County League and County Open Tournaments for ‘Masters’ players and also a single weekend event called the Masters County Challenge which is held in early January each year.  This article is about the County Challenge in which all counties enter teams for the various age bands (o40 up to o70) and are then divided into divisions based on standard.  Starting at the top with a Premier division, Divisions 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B. These events are held at various venues around the country. This year Avon entered 4 teams, over 50, over 55, over 60 and over 65's.

This season the only Avon team up in a Premier Division was the o55s who were playing at the Worcester Arena.  The Premier Division contains 7 county teams so each team plays matches against the 6 other teams over the weekend. The format of the competition takes the form of a league with 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. Each tie contains 4 rubbers: 1 ladies doubles, 1 men’s doubles and 2 mixed doubles.

The Jan-2015 County Challenge had finished with Surrey as Champions at over 55, which was their 4th consecutive win, and Avon 55's only just managed to avoid relegation. With an injection of new talent this year, with players moving up from the o50s, hopes were high for a better result.  The outcome for Surrey was painfully familiar so in reality the battle was all about 2nd place and Avon won that battle. So a quick scan of all past winners in all age groups since this competition started in 1986 reveals the fact that no Avon team has ever won, so this was one of the best results for an Avon Masters team in the 30 years of competition. (A second place had also been achieved by an over 60's group a few years ago).  

Our ladies results have often been less successful than our men's and mixed but this weekend the ladies won 3 of their 6 matches, coming close in the other 3 and even taking a game off the strong Surrey pair...well done to Shirley, Dot and Jackie.Jude White played at 1st mixed in all 6 matches winning 5 and competing really well in a hugely watchable match against Ian Purton and Christine Crossley, the top Surrey and England pair, so well done Jude.

Selection is never easy when players in your team have to sit out some matches, but without exception every member of the team accepted all difficult selection decisions selflessly and a great team spirit and morale characterised the whole weekend.

So well done to Avon over 55s, the 2nd placed county team in England.  A brilliant result.

 

The over 50's were in Bournemouth playing Division 1.  They had some challenges as they were moved between the two schools being used, and finished 4th of 7 which means they will remain in the first division for next year’s competition.

The over 60's, also playing 1st Division, travelled to Andover to take on teams from Kent, Berkshire, Sussex, Devon, Dorset and Isle of Wight. The squad was made up of Derek Simmonds, Mike Cox, Colin and Ann Lawry, Julian Clapp, Mike Chapman, Peter and Bronny Bennett, Cathy Alexander, and Penny Shears. Avon stayed unbeaten, with good wins against Sussex, Dorset and Isle of Wight. With winning draws against Kent, Berks and Devon, we ended second overall in the division to Kent, who won all their ties apart from the one losing draw to ourselves.

Well done to the team for such a successful weekend and a special mention to Cathy Alexander & Penny Shears, for winning all their rubbers without dropping a game and to Julian Clapp & Ann Lawry, who also won all their rubbers. Having missed out on the promotion spot the team will also remain in the first division next season.

The over 65's team, also in Bournemouth playing in a Division 1, had a very closely fought Division. The over 65's have a team consisting of 3 men and 3 ladies which makes each rubber seem much more important as there are no matches drawn.

At the end of Saturday we were one of 3 teams not to have lost a match, with none of them having yet played each other so Sunday was going to be interesting. Avon opened their second day playing against Middlesex, one of the 3 unbeaten teams and, with the team readjusted and some new pairings, were thrilled to come out of that with a 2-1 win.  We then watched as Sussex, the team we thought would be our toughest challenge, lost to Middlesex in one of the longest matches of the weekend. In our second match against the Isle of Wight, we had some tight rubbers but was a 3-0 win and the contest for top spot was still alive, though it could still be a 3 way split. 

For the final match of the weekend, which was now the decider for the division, we once again moved our players around, and what a match. With Sussex ladies unbeaten and their men looking strong, but having just lost their game against Middlesex, it was all nail biting stuff. We took the ladies in 3, lost a tight men's ,and it all then came down to the last rubber in which Linda and Bob, playing their first game together all weekend,    came out on top. All players had contributed wins to the weekend but congratulations to the 3 ladies, Joanna, Linda and Val who were all unbeaten, and as with the 55's a great team spirit and this means promotion to Premier for next year.

Published: Thursday, 10 December 2015 14:44

21st English National Masters Championships 4th - 6th December 2015

With 12 Avon players taking part in the National Masters Championships, and winning one National Title and 4 runners up spots between them, this was a good weekend for our local Avon Masters.

The National title win was by Val O’Neill and Penny Shears playing at 65+ Women’s Doubles. This was a very closely fought title though, against Joanna Elson also from Avon, playing with Vicki Betts from Hampshire, who had beaten Val and Penny in the group stages in a long duel 21-15, 21-23, 21-17. Both pairings won their respective semi-finals to then have a rematch in the final with Joanna and Vicki finishing as runners up and Val and Penny feeling fortunate to be the winners this time 21-14, 21-7, to take the title.

ValandPenny O65winners NationalMasters 2015

Joanna Elson was also runner up at 70+ Mixed Doubles with partner Ken Tantum from Notts, and Val O’Neill was also a finalist at 65+ Mixed Doubles with partner Grahame Moscrop from Northumberland losing the last match of the weekend in a long 3 setter against the top seeds, 21-15, 17-21, 19-21.

Derek Simmons, playing 65+Men’s Doubles with Chris Hockey from Surrey, won their group without losing a game but lost to the No 1 seeds in the final 21-19, 21-14 finishing the Championships as runners up.

Ian Nicholls, playing 55+ Mixed Doubles with Jenny Cox also from Surrey, came through a tight semi-final 22-20, 17-21, 21-15 but couldn’t outplay the No 1 seeds in the final, and were another pair having to settle for the runners up spot after losing to them 21-12, 21-9.

Nigel Birkitt and John Gray, Dave Gribble and Ian Nicholls played well at 55+ MD to finish 2nd in their respective groups with Nigel and John only losing to eventual finalists and Dave and Ian losing to the eventual winners, as did Julian Clapp at 60+ MD, playing with Robin Wells from Kent.

Also playing and winning games were Paul Chard and Cath Jowett at 50+ XD and Bob Hammersley at 65+ XD with Sally Morris from Sussex.

Val and Penny now have an opportunity to represent England against Scotland in January and automatic selection to next year’s European Championships in Slovenia.

Published: Tuesday, 03 November 2015 11:56

Kent Masters Gold Tournament 2015

Avon Masters once again were well represented at the Kent Masters tournament and there were many good performances but this year the story is of runners up places.
Dave Gribble, at MS 55+, despite only losing to the eventual winner Alexander Taylor, and having beating the No 1 seed Abdul Gafir 21-12, 15-21, 21-12 Dave had to concede the runner up place to Abdul finishing in third place due to the extra game Abdul had won in his match against Alexander.

KentMasters20015

Runners up at MD 55+, Nigel Birkitt and John Gray, pictured with Geoff Rofe, president of Badminton England, were unbeaten in their group after winning a long 3 setter against Trevor Hampson and Phil Richardson 21-10, 20-22, 20-22, they then went on to play the No 1 seeds, John Molyneux and Ian Purton in the final, losing 21-9, 21-13. Dave Gribble and Ian Nicholls had also played Trevor and Phil in their group, losing to them, 21-13, 21-13 but winning all their other matches.
Derek Simmons, with Chris Hockey (Surrey) playing MD 65+ were another pair finishing in runners up spot with their only loss being against the No 1 seeds Bob Bell and Roy Lord 21-14. 21-18.
Val O’Neill and Penny Shears, playing WD 65+ were another pair coming through their group unbeaten. Their final against the Lancashire pair of Sylvia Gill and Cecilia Rodger was closely fought but once again Avon had to settle for the runner up spot with Val and Penny losing another close 3 setter 21-19, 17-21, 17-21.
Penny Shears and Abdul Malique from Surrey, also came through their group at XD 65+ unbeaten despite a close match against the No 2 seeds. With 3 mixed groups in this age band they went through to play Ed Hayes (Leics) and Sylvia Gill (Lancs) but lost this semi-final against the eventual winners, in yet another tight three setter 21-16,16-21, 21-18.
The players representing Avon were: (hopefully not missing anyone ) Nigel Birkitt, Debbie Burrell, Paul Chard, Julian Clapp, John Gray, Dave Gribble, Bob Hammersley, Richard Irvine, Cath Jowett, Gene Joyner, Ian Nicholls, Val O’Neill, Penny Shears, Derek Simmons.

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