Players from England dominated the final day at the Yonex Irish International Badminton Championships, at the Lisburn Racquets Club with representatives in four out of the five finals. No Irish players to grace the occasion alas but nonetheless a great day’s Badminton was enjoyed by the large crowd present.
Rajiv Ouseph, English number one and the number three seed won the men’s singles final, beating the number two seed Przemysla Wacha from Poland after he was forced to retire in the second set through injury.
The 24 years old from Hounslow was born and brought up in London and studied media and communication at Loughborough University. He has won the Senior National Singles title four times in a row at the English National Badminton Championships in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and now adds another Irish Open crown to his impressive CV.
In the mixed doubles Marcus Ellis and Heather Olver beat Dave Khodabux and Selena Piek from the Netherlands in straight sets 21-19, 21-17. Olver was also in action in the women’s doubles partnering Marin Agathangelou. The English pair lost out to Hui Urn Ng and Hui Lin Ng of Malaysia in three sets, 14-21, 21-16, 21-11. The 25 yrs old Olver, from Eastbourne, had previously won the Ladies Doubles here and is expected to be a member of the Great Britain team in London 2012.
In the best of the finals, Hsiao Ma Pai of Chinese Taipei beat Spain’s Carolina Marin the number two seed in a hard fought match with Hsiao coming through in three sets 12-21, 21-19, 21-7 to take the title.
In the men’s doubles England’s Marcus Ellis and Peter Mills lost to Adam Cwalina and Michal Logosz the number one seeds from Poland in straight sets 21-15, 21-15.
Although there were no Irish players in action in the finals the tournament was a success for Irish number one Chloe Magee as she secured her Olympic qualification target for London 2012 by reaching the quarter finals in the women’s singles. Scott Evans can also hold his head high having given the title winner Ouseph the closest test with three close sets.
This has been a highly successful staging of the Yonex Irish Open by Badminton Ireland, under Chief Executive Richard Vaughan, in conjunction with the Lisburn Racquets Club. The week has attracted considerable media attention especially within Europe with extensive TV coverage.
Apart from Badminton Ireland , the National Governing Bodies of Netball and Squash also have their headquarters in the Club and the Club courts are used for their coaching squads and tournaments.
The Club, just off the Belfast Road, was founded in November 1967 when Alpha Badminton Club and Hilden Tennis Club agreed to join forces to erect a sports hall/pavilion on the site of the old Hilden tennis pavilion.
The hall opened for play in November 1971 with two squash courts and three badminton courts in addition to the existing four tennis courts. The Lisburn Racquets Squash Club was formed at the same time.
Further extensions have seen the erection of two more squash courts and a bar/lounge with improved changing rooms. Some years ago the sand courts were changed to new all-weather tennis courts with floodlights, which allowed play throughout the year. The tennis courts have been updated again to Astroturf courts with improved floodlighting.
Badminton Ireland’s C.E.O , Richard Vaughan said : “We are confident the event will provide a platform for a lasting legacy of badminton development in Ulster engaging with Schools, the local community and adding to the good work our development team has done in the Branch.”
At the end of a momentous week for Badminton Ireland, let us hope that the sport continues to thrive and that it gets more regular mainstream media coverage throughout Ireland.