County Championships 2010

The annual County Restricted Championships, sponsored by Ashaway which were held at Easton College, attracted a mixture of both old and new players to Norfolk badminton challenging for the title of county champion.

The Men’s Singles attracted a very strong entry with several UEA students entering, which made for some tough games throughout the early rounds. The 3rd & 4th seeds fell early on in the competition, but the top two seeds made it safely through to the semi-finals, where No 1 seed and reigning champion, Ian Murphy beat club mate Luke Cox 21-15, 21-11 to reach yet another mens singles final, whilst the other semi-final saw No 2 seed Alex Wyett beat Chris Piff, 21-14, 21-15. In the final Murphy continued to exert his domination of Norfolk badminton by winning his 9th successive Men’s Singles title, 21-12, 21-9. The plate competition was won by Grahame Wells who beat county U17 player Tom Hinks.

Sadly the Ladies Singles competition was hit by a number of late withdrawals, leaving just 3 entrants, reigning champion Julie Pike, U17 champion Louise Thacker and U15 rising star Devon Minnis. Although neither junior was daunted by the occasion, Pike retained her title, but it may be tougher in the years to come. Louise Thacker took the runner up spot.

Sunday saw the Mixed Doubles event, which proved to be a very interesting competition with several strong unseeded pairs in the draw. One early match saw Ian Murphy playing with his former partner Gill Varvel take on the No 1 seeds Justin Gerrard & Julie Pike in a very tense match which Murphy & Varvel won in 3 sets before beating Christain Neilsen & Bryony Lund to reach the final. Meanwhile the No 2 seeds Jon Atmore & Louise Culyer made their way through to the final beating Grahame Wells & Toni Sturgeon in the other semi-final. The final was a cautious affair, with Murphy & Varvel taking the 1st set 22-20 then keeping the momentum to win the title, which they last won together in 2007.

Gerrard & Pike recovered from their earlier setback to win the plate competition beating the newly married pairing of James & Katie Ruthen.

The mix of existing county pairs and former junior pairs keen to establish themselves created an intriguing mix of matches in the Ladies Doubles competition. Dropping just 1 set along the way, the new pairing of Toni Sturgeon and Louise Culyer ran out clear winners, a title Louise Culyer last held in 2004. The runner up spot went to Julie Pike & former junior Holly Bowen, who just managed to beat Amber Nielsen & Helen Newstead in a very tight and tense 3 set match.

Again the strength of the pairs in the Mens Doubles, meant that there were no easy games in the early rounds. Both seeds progressed reasonably comfortably to the semi finals, where No 1 seeds Ian Murphy & Grahame Wells beat Chris Piff & Tim Vickers, whilst the No 2 seeds Paul Daynes & Jon Atmore beat Christian Nielsen & Alex Wyett. In the final Murphy & Wells worked hard to take the first set 21-16, and pressed home the advantage to take the second set 21-9, to win for the seventh time. This also clinched Murphy’s seventh grand slam of county titles.

Throughout the weekend the games were of a high standard, and with several younger players starting to exert themselves upon the scene, the future is looking bright for Norfolk.