Cook's display does Suffolk proud

BADMINTON: The Suffolk Badminton Association Open Tournament took place at Rushmere Sports Club. This was to be the year for surprises with many of the top seeds falling early and there was to be plenty of local interest with some outstanding performances from Suffolk's own, most notably Debbie Cook in the mixed event.

The Suffolk Badminton Association Open Tournament took place at Rushmere Sports Club.

This was to be the year for surprises with many of the top seeds falling early and there was to be plenty of local interest with some outstanding performances from Suffolk's own, most notably Debbie Cook in the mixed event.

Sanctioned by the Badminton Association of England as one of the country's Satellite Tournaments, entries came from all parts of England with players arriving from as far afield as Northumberland, Yorkshire, Kent and Devon.

Once again Suffolk attracted an excellent calibre of entry with a whole host of highly-ranked players descending on Ipswich, many from the top 20 in England.

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James Allinson (Yorkshire) was the top seed in the men's singles but was an early casualty, beaten in the quarter final but Mike Ratcliffe (Northants). The second seed made it to the final to face Andrew King (Durham).

All Suffolk's players did well, particularly James White, a losing quarter finalist.

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In the final, King was quickly into his game, forcing errors from Ratcliffe whose shots showed signs of impatience and the first set was concluded quickly.

The second, however, was much more even, both testing each others fitness with long, arduous rallies covering all four corners of the court.

However, King maintained his fluency under pressure as Ratcliffe tried just a little too hard, making crucial errors. King deservedly won his first satellite title in straight sets.

In the ladies' singles the top seeds of Julie Standley (Avon) and Julie Pike (Yorks) progressed to an eagerly-awaited final between two of the future stars of English ladies' badminton, both being under 20 years of age.

Standley lost out in the final last year, but appeared stronger and more determined to put that right this year.

The final started briskly, both players moving smoothly around the court with excellent footwork and controlled shots.

Standley pushed her opponent away from the net position with angled clears and tight drop shots, waiting for the openings to utilise her extra weight of shot.

The first set was close but the signs were there that Pike was losing confidence as Standley repeatedly set up and executed a barrage of straight smashes. In the end Standley won convincingly, just reward for some excellent tactical play.

In the mixed event, Debbie Cook (Suffolk) was a late replacement to partner James Allinson (Yorks) and despite this being a scratch pairing they did remarkably well to reach the final against the top seeds of Ian Murphy/Susan Pennington (Norfolk), adding a bit of local East Anglian rivalry to the final.

The more-established Norfolk pairing started better, Pennington with a heavier weight of shot being decisive as Cook's defence let her down occasionally.

However, back came the underdogs, Allinson gaining control of the rallies and Cook playing well at the net to take the match to a deciding set. Unfortunately there was no fairytale ending as Murphy/Pennington re-established their superiority, proving just a little too strong to win the final set 15-7.

In the ladies' doubles, Kate Cunningham/Tracey Pooley (Surrey), the holders of the trophy for three of the last four years and number one seeds, were eliminated in the first round by Sarah Burgess/Jo Dix (Hants) who progressed all the way to the final.

In the bottom half of the draw the Warwickshire pair of Kelly Childs/Joanne Wyatt came through to set up an intriguing final.

Burgess/Dix used good flat defensive blocks mixed with cross court drops and deep clears to unbalance their opponents, winning the longer rallies and the first set.

This was a close contest and Childs/Wyatt stormed back to take a 10-5 lead in the second. However, Burgess/Dix started to apply the pressure, forcing their opposition to hit flatter, extending the rallies and finally breaking their resolve to also win their first ever title.

For sheer entertainment value the men's doubles takes some beating and this year was no exception with a new star emerging in Nicholas Kidd (Avon & Australia).

Teamed with half of last year's winners, Tom Causer (Bucks), they made a formidable pairing fully justifying their top billing. In the final they met Andi Frye/Nick Chambers (Essex), another outstanding pair.

Played at a blistering pace it was hard to follow the flight of the shuttle but the players knew where it was as defence was turned into attack with some breathtaking back hand defence particularly by Kidd, with excellent short serving throughout.

With powerful smashing and quick hands and feet by all four players, this was a stunning final. However, Kidd proved to be the dominant player and as hard as Frye/Chambers tried they were not quite good enough.

The match was completed by yet another towering smash from Kidd and with steady play by Causer they won the title without dropping a set.

Suffolk Open results

Men's Singles

Semi-finals: A King (Durham) bt I Murphy (Norfolk) 15-10, 7-15, 15-9; M Ratcliffe (Northants) bt M Huxter (Dorset) 15-5, 15-9.

Final: A King (Durham) bt M Ratcliffe (Northants) 15-1, 15-12.

Ladies' Singles

Semi-finals: J Standley (Avon) bt C Smith (Northumberland) 11-13, 11-6, 11-4; J Pike (Yorks) bt S Pennington (Norfolk) 11-2, 11-7.

Final: J Standley (Avon) bt J Pike (Yorks) 11-7, 11-1.

Mixed Doubles

Semi-finals: I Murphy/S Pennington (Norfolk) bt S Gennery/D Miller (Hants) 15-6, 15-11; J Allinson/D Cook (Yorks/Suffolk) bt P Troke/A England (Kent/Notts) 7-15, 15-5, 15-6.

Final: I Murphy/S Pennington (Norfolk) bt J Allinson/D Cook (Yorks/Suffolk) 15-3, 9-15, 15-7.

Ladies' Doubles

Semi-finals: S Burgess/J Dix (Hants) bt J Pike/C Smith. (Yorks/Northumberland) 11-15, 15-11, 15-3; K Childs/J Wyatt (Warws) bt S Pennington/J Standley (Norfolk/Avon) 15-8, 15-13.

Final: S Burgess/J Dix (Hants) bt K Childs/J Wyatt (Warws) 15-12, 15-12.

Men's Doubles

Semi-finals: T Causer/N Kidd (Bucks/Avon) bt C Patten/P Carless (Herts) 15-1, 15-7; A Frye/N Chambers (Essex) bt J Teale/C Marquez (Herts) 15-9, 15-12.

Final: T Causer/N Kidd (Bucks/Avon) bt A Frye/N Chambers (Essex) 15-8, 15-10.

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