Murphy takes all three titles
Ian Murphy reinforced his position as the Countys No.1 by winning all three titles at the Norfolk Restricted Championships played at the UEA Sportspark over the weekend. But he will be the first to admit that Lady Luck was on his side when second seed, Eric Plane, had to withdraw from the Championships at the end of his first round singles match with a back injury, which also put him and his partner, Tim Hudson-Church, out of the doubles - a title which they were hoping to retain.
Murphy found little resistance in the early rounds of the singles event, until he came up against Alex Wyett in the semi-finals. He comfortably won the first set 15-3, but then Wyett fought back to take the second in setting 17-15, only for Murphy to re-establish his superiority in the third, winning it 15-4 to progress to the final. In the other end of the draw, Norfolks up and coming 17 year old, Jonathan Cooper had a surprise semi-final opponent when his father, Robin, enjoyed a walk over into the semis because of Planes earlier injury. But son showed father little mercy, coming out on top 15-4, 15-11. The final produced the best match of the weekend, with Cooper pushing the champion hard in several long and closely contested rallies, with the final score of 15-5, 15-6 in Murphys favour not being a true reflection of the play.
Murphy and Wyett teamed up in mens doubles and, with Plane and Hudson-Church out of the way, won the title with plenty to spare, beating Matthew Hammond and Matthew Howes 15-3, 15-4 in the semis and then Justin Gerrard and Christian Nielsen 15-3,15-3 in the final. Gerrard and Nielsen ran out of steam after winning a tough three set semi-final against James Plunkett and James Ruthen 15-12,10-15,15-4.
This years ladies singles champion is Katherine Cooper who beat Sharn Crane in the final - a reversal of last seasons result. The first set was close with Cooper coming out on top 13-11 in setting, but she then romped home 11-1 in the second to take her first county title. The losing semi-finalists were Amber Lillingstone and Tanya Harrison. Katherine took home her second trophy of the weekend when she partnered Gillian Cox to victory in the ladies doubles, beating Sharn Crane and Amber Lillingstone 15-6,15-6 in the final. The losing semi-finalists were Tanya Harrison and Liz Crane and Michelle Lewin and Sarah Williams. Gillian Cox also won two titles when she and Murphy won the mixed doubles, beating Wyett and Lillingstone 15-5,15-9 in the final. Wyett and Lillingstone had earlier knocked out Gerrard and Sharn Crane in the semis.
Overall, it was a somewhat predictable championship, influenced by Planes unfortunate withdrawal and with very few surprises. There was a good entry of junior players but, apart from Jonathan Cooper, they found it hard to make much impact against the more experienced senior squad. However, their time will come and the selectors might well introduce a few new faces into the ICC squads for the coming season.
Blofield Badminton Club, a relatively small but highly talented group of players, will be celebrating this week as all the championship winners come from their club- a remarkable achievement, unlikely to be repeated!
Plate winners: Mens singles: Daniel Evans. Ladies singles: Tanya Harrison.
* The Veterans Tournament, for the Over 40s, will take place at the Yarmouth Drill Hall on Sunday, October 16. The organisers are hoping for a good entry and further information can be obtained from Mark Bennett on Norwich 748733 or Ann Hutchin on Norwich 712651.