Strong entry for the Open
There was a strong entry for the Norfolk Open Championships played at the UEA Sportspark, with the county's top three players, Katherine Cooper, Julie Pike and Ian Murphy all picking up winners' trophies.
Cooper and Pike were second seeds in the women's doubles and reached the final by beating Norfolk's Louise Culyer and Vicky Ingram from Middlesex 21-12,21-18 in the first semi. At the other end of the draw, top seeds, Elena Johnson and Kate Lester, also from Middlesex, toppled Norfolk's Helen Newstead and Toni Sturgeon 21-19, 21-12 to reach a final which produced one of the best matches of the tournament, with both sides mixing aggression with quality net play and a few feisty moments which added to the atmosphere of a match finally won by Cooper and Pike 21-16, 21-16.
The mixed doubles was also full of quality aggressive play with top seeds, Murphy and Cooper reaching the final after beating David Wenn (Essex) and Ingram in a tough three set semi 10-21, 23-21, 21-13. At the other end of the draw, Pike teamed up with John Hepworth (Dorset) to fight their way to the final, beating second seeds Steve Stodart (Surrey) and Kate Lester (Middlesex) 21-16, 21-18. But with Hepworth visibly tiring after a series of tough level doubles matches , Murphy and Cooper came through to take the title 21-11. 21-11
Murphy partnered James White (Leicestershire) in the mens doubles and they reached the semi-finals before losing to top seeds Andrew Brunning and Chris Dakin (Essex) in a very close match 21-19, 21-17. Second seeds Hepworth and Andrew Penn got to the final with a three set victory over Steve Stodart (Surrey) and Daniel Woodhouse (Middlesex) before falling to Brunning and Dakin who took the title 21-16, 21-11,
Nationally ranked 10th, Robert Kettle (Surrey ) won the mens singles title with a three set victory over Chris Gilbert 17-21, 21-12, 21-7, in a somewhat lack-lustre final with Eddie Chow (Essex) and William Hilton-Jackson (Sussex) the losing semi-finalists.
The entry for the womens singles was very disappointing. Caroline Westley (Essex) last year's losing finalist and currently nationally ranked 11, took the title with a comfortable win over Norfolk's Louise Culyer 21-9, 21-10. But the organisers were well satisfied with the overall size of the entry, with players coming from many parts of the country, which is an encouraging sign for Norfolk.
* The next county moderates tournament will be held at the UEA Sportspark on Sunday, March 21st, commencing at 10.00am Further information and entry forms may be obtained from Simon Piff, 11 Proctor Road, Sprowston, Norwich NR6 7PF or downloaded from the county website at www.norfolkbadminton.co.uk