The latest North Tyneside Social Badminton Tournament, held in John Spence Community High School sports hall, attracted a record entry of 80 players, with an age range of 14 to 75! There were many regular social players, who love these events, but it was also good to see a number of new faces, including some foreign students from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities – all of whom enjoyed the experience of playing against a variety of new players of all ages. One of the Vietnamese competitors sent a very nice email after the tournament:
“Yesterday tournament would be a wonderful memory for me and other Vietnamese students and we again want to send a massive thanks to all organisers.”
Northumberland Badminton Association Secretary Norma Waterfield, who together with her husband, set up these popular North Tyneside tournaments a number of years ago, commented:
“The whole tournament was played in such a friendly yet competitive spirit, that made everyone feel happy and relaxed and allowed them to enjoy the experience of playing against different people. I love being involved in these events as everyone is so nice and it is great to see such a wide age range of players of different standards competing against each other, and having fun. It is important to make everyone feel really welcome, and I think they do appreciate this. Also, we could not run these events without our wonderful volunteers who give up their time”.
Volunteers from the North Tyneside Badminton Partnership, including several from Bewicke Badminton Club, which plays at John Spence, organised and ran the tournament. Viv Harmer, the Tournament Secretary and a member of Bewicke BC, agreed with Norma:
We all enjoy the day too, it’s great to see young and old playing together.” The entries included 4 pairings of parent and child, which was very good to see. Junior players blended in well, and they all enjoyed the invaluable experience of playing against adults.
Regular competitor Jo Donaldson said afterwards “How much more successful can this tournament get? I had a great time along with everybody there.”
All of the initial games in every event were played in groups, so everyone got plenty of matches. The group winners progressed to knockout semi-finals followed by finals. The overall standard was very good for a social tournament, and Jo Donaldson commented:
“Lots of nice new faces, young and older, alongside all the familiar players, and seeing the improvement and progression of the regulars is wonderful.”
Jo and her partner Lillian Allison captured yet another trophy, winning the Ladies Doubles final comfortably 15-7. Their experience, against a younger pairing, was decisive. It was encouraging to see a mother and daughter pairing (Claire and Eleanor King) reach the semi-final stage.
The Men’s Doubles saw many excellent, close, hard fought games, with a good number going to 15-14. The final itself, between the regular pairing of Mark Henderson and Kevin Mann against James Lin and William Yap could not have been closer, with James and William just coming out on top, 15-14!
The Mixed Doubles had a maximum number of 28 couples entered, with initially 4 groups of 7. Of the 4 couples who then contested the semi-finals, 7 of the 8 players were actually aged over 50! In the final, a delighted Mike Turton and his partner Honore Blenkinsopp triumphed over previous winners Jo Donaldson and Derek Gilhespie 15-10. “I am flabbergasted” said Honore, after receiving not only her Mixed Doubles trophy, but also the Ladies’ award for “Outstanding Performance by an Over 50s Player” – this was her first appearance in any final!
It was extremely difficult to decide who should receive the Over 50s awards as there were a number of very worthy performances, but the Men’s award went to Derek Gilhespie, who reached the Men’s Doubles semi-final as well as the Mixed Doubles final. Derek’s Men’s Doubles partner Simon Entwhistle, was also a contender for the award, as he played very well to reach two semi-finals. Mike Turton was so pleased – he sent a lovely message to the organisers:
“A big thanks to you and all the rest of the organising committee for putting on such a great badminton tournament. All our group of players thoroughly enjoyed it. I honestly think it was the best ever North Tyneside event and not just because Honore and I won the mixed! There was a lovely blend of old faces and new players and everybody was so friendly and the matches were competitive but fun too and all played in the right spirit”.
Ladies Doubles Final
Lillian Allison and Jo Donaldson defeated Laura Ren and Doris Wang 15-7
Mens Doubles Final
James Lin and William Yap defeated Mark Henderson and Kevin Mann 15-14
Mixed Doubles Final
Mike Turton and Honore Blenkinsopp defeated Derek Gilhespie and Jo Donaldson 15-10
Over 50’s Awards for Oustanding Performance
Honore Blenkinsopp and Derek Gilhespie