Plane and Hudson recapture their crown
What a fortnight it has been for Eric Plane and his mens doubles partner, Tim Hudson-Church. Two weeks ago they were competing in the European Veterans Championships at Almunecar on the sun drenched Costa del Sol, with the temperature topping 30 degrees, whilst this Sunday it was back to the rain and a somewhat colder Norwich Sports Hall to play in the County Restricted. But, whatever the weather and wherever the location these two ageing Norfolk stalwarts continue to get results.
In Spain, they beat the no. 1 seeds Morten Christiensen and Peter Fleming (no, not the tennis player!) from Denmark 17-15, 15-7 to bring home gold medals in the 40+ age group, whilst in Norwich they regained their county doubles title by overcoming the younger team of Richard Nash and Justin Gerrard 15-8, 15-4 in the final. Earlier, Nash and Gerrard had pulled off the surprise result of the tournament by beating the county no.1 pair, Ian Murphy and Grahame Wells 17-14, 15-8 in the semis, whilst Plane and Hudson-Church had knocked out Alex Wyett and Matthew Hammond in three sets.
With Hudson-Church wearing strapping for calf, thigh and back injuries, it was sheer guts and determination, allied to their natural badminton skills, which enabled them to get their county crown back. This brings Planes tally to 52 titles in years of county competition. Not a bad record for somebody who, afterwards, described himself as a "worn out old soldier"!
There were no surprises in the mens singles event with Ian Murphy retaining his title against no. 2 seed Plane, with a 15-11, 15-7 victory. Earlier, Murphy had beaten Nash 15-5, 15-10, whilst Plane had overcome Wyett 15-4,15-1 in the semi-finals.
With Charity Barnes moving to Herts University, the ladies singles title was "up for grabs". Katherine Cooper, who occupied the first teams second singles spot for most of last season, was seeded one, while Sharn Crane, last seasons second team captain, was second seed. But it was Crane who came out on top with a convincing 11-4,11-1 victory, to take this seasons title. Tanya Harrison and Michelle Lewin were the losing semi-finalists. Crane then went on to win her second title of the day when she teamed up with Louise Culyer to win the ladies doubles event, beating Cooper and Amber Lillingstone 15-5,15-8. Earlier, Cooper and Lillingstone had a good semi-final win over Denise Coleman and Linda Sawyer 15-9, 15-13, while Crane and Culyer put out the younger pair of Michelle Lewin and Katie Scotter 15-4,15-4.
Murphy also took home a second winners trophy when he partnered Gillian Cox to victory in the mixed doubles event. They easily overcame last years champions, Plane and Sawyer 15-3,15-3, having earlier beaten Hudson-Church and Coleman 15-2,15-3 in the semis. Gerrard and Crane were the other losing semi-finalists.
Overall, it was a keenly contested Championships, with some good quality badminton being played and some surprise results, which will give the selectors some food for thought as they meet to determine the first and second team squads for the season ahead.
Plate Winners: Mens singles; Steve Sharpe, Ladies singles; Amber Lillingstone, Mens doubles; David Guy and John Attmore, Mixed doubles; Eddie Simmons and Louise Culyer.