An exciting display of talent was on show as Cornwall’s top badminton players took part in the annual county championships, held over two days at Polkyth Leisure Centre.
More than 50 players of all ages took part, ranging from 14-year-olds to veteran performers and, with half the entrants under 20, the future looks bright for Cornish badminton.
Several sets of siblings took part, too, including the three Sillifant and Dyer brothers from Launceston and Truro, the Bick twins from Penzance and Truro’s Bailey sisters.
Plymouth’s Tony Clark had a good run through to the semi-finals of the men’s singles, beating on the way the oldest Dyer brother, Jack, who had ousted the No.3 seed Ross Lash- brook, while Penryn’s Sean Havis showed his improvement in defeating Truro’s Sam Spencer en route to reaching the quarter-finals.
In the semis both top two seeds, Tyler and Liam Sillifant, had comfortable victories over evergreen St Austell performer James Whetter and Clark respectively to meet for the third year running in the final.
This time elder brother Liam triumphed to regain his crown after two barren years from his middle brother Tyler, as both played with skill, speed and determination in an absorbing match.
The women’s singles was made up entirely of younger players, with 15- year-old Mollie Bailey defeating the seeded Amelia Burrell from Camborne, and Penryn’s Amy Cox, to reach the final.
There she met the top seed from Liskeard, 14-year-old Cara Collins, who had edged out Camborne’s Kellen Moore in the semis in three ends.
Collins’ speed and control proved too much for her friend Bailey and she ran out county champion for an impressive first time.
The day finished with the women’s doubles where the top seeds made relatively easy progress to the final.
This turned out to be a gripping game between the No.1 seeds from Port Isaac and Leedstown, seasoned campaigners Johanna Philp and Bronwen Wotton, and the younger Camborne pairing of Kellen Moore and Amelia Burrell.
Eventually Philp and Wotton won through in two tight exciting ends thanks to their skilful net play, power and retrieval, although they were pushed hard all the way by their opponents.
The players returned the next day for the men’s doubles and mixed events to once more thrill the spectators and showcase their talent.
Fifteen pairs contested the men’s doubles and all four seeds duly made their way to the semi-finals where the top two seeds both won in straight sets to set up the final.
That showdown again featured St Austell’s experienced duo Whetter and Guy Michell against reigning champions and Launceston and Saltash pair Ross Lashbrook and Richard Townsend.
This year Whetter and Michell took revenge for the previous two years’ defeats by winning the first end and, despite being pushed hard in the second pulsating end, hung on to win 22-20 in a thrilling match of hard smashing, quick reactions and clever positioning.
The final event of the weekend was the mixed doubles which produced some of the best games and saw 19 pairs taking part, ranging from new young talent to veteran players using all their experience and knowledge.
Some notable successes were Penryn’s Sean Havis and Amy Cox in beating the No.4 seeds, plus England vets Bob Bell and Lynda Beer reaching the semis and the successful young pairing of Harry Dyer and Cara Collins marching into the quarter-finals, as well as older brother Elliot and his Truro partner Melissa Lin.
Second seeds Lashbrook and Wotton had come through a hard battle in the last eight to narrowly beat Spencer and Burrell in one of the best matches of the weekend with setting in two of the three ends before winning more comfortably in their semi-final against Havis and Cox.
Top seeds and holders Whetter and Philp reached the final with a hard-fought victory over Launceston’s Tom Lyle and his partner from St Just, Vicki Thomas, to set up the last match of the day and a repeat of several years’ mixed finals.
Another close-fought and exciting game followed over three ends with no quarter given by either pair.
Despite losing the first end and only narrowly winning the second, Whetter and Philp finally emerged 21-19 victors in a match which could easily have gone either way to give a fitting finale to the weekend.
In the plate events Cox capped a fine tournament with victories in the women’s singles and doubles with partner Thomas, while Spencer beat Lyle in the men’s singles; twins Will and Matt Bick from Penzance took the men’s doubles title and Chris Glasson and Kellen Moore were victorious in the mixed.