Norfolk players find success in Open

The top county players were in good form at the Norfolk Open Championships held at the UEA Sportspark over last weekend.  Despite feeling unwell, county champion Katherine Cooper came very close to winning a hat-trick of titles. In the singles final she overcame a strong challenge from Hertfordshire's high flyer, Anna Collis, beating her 22-20,21-19. She then teamed up with county colleague, Toni Sturgeon to win the level doubles for the third time together, beating Norfolk pair Helen Newstead and Amber Nielsen 21-14, 21-17. Newstead and Nielsen had earlier beaten no.1 seeds, Lydia Henderson-Boyle and Julie Russell (Kent) in the first semi-final, while Norfolk's Louise Culyer and Vicky Ingham (Middlesex) lost out to Cooper and Sturgeon in the other semi.

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Cooper and Ian Murphy were very keen to keep the mixed doubles title they won last year, but they were up against England squad player, Andrew Smith (Hampshire) and his partner, Emily Hollis from Avon in the final. In a very competitive and exciting match, Murphy and Cooper took the first set 21-12, only for Smith and Hollis to fight back to win the next two sets and the title 21-18, 21-19.

The mens singles attracted 32 players with Daryl Jacobs (Middlesex) aiming to win back the title he first won in 2009. Three of the top four seeds reached the semi-finals with Richard Sims (Middlesex) beating W. Hilton-Jackson (Sussex) 21-15, 19-21, 21-13 and Jacobs putting out unseeded James White (Leicestershire) 21-18,21-19. The final produced yet another close match  with Jacobs beating Sims in three sets 17-21, 21-18, 21-14 to reclaim the singles trophy.

The mens doubles attracted 18 pairs, with Norfolk's Ian Murphy renewing his partnership with James White. Unseeded Murphy and White battled their way through to the semi-finals , where they met and beat top seeds Rob Cooper and Hilton-Jackson 21-14, 18-21, 21-17 In the other half of the draw, John Hepworth and Andrew Penn ( Hampshire) beat Jacobs and Luke Donnelly (Herts) 21-19,19-21,21-17 in a long, hard hitting encounter. In the final, Murphy and White took an early control of the match which a tiring Hepworth and Penn couldn't match, giving Murphy and his partner a well deserved trophy, with a convincing score-line of 21-10, 21-11.

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