Ulster’s Paul McCreery and Claire Nelson won the Band 1 Men’s Singles and the Under 21 Girl’s Singles respectively at the prestigious Bristol Grand Prix, which is part of the English Grand Prix Circuit against a very strong field of players.
Paul McCreery raced through to the semi-finals in the Band 1 Singles where he beat the talented Mike Marsden and ran out a worthy 3-1 winner. His opponent in the final was Zac Zilesnick who earlier had finished 2nd in the Band 2 Event. In the fifth set of this match McCreery upped his level and his intensity to win 11-8 and showed why he is regarded as one of the top juniors in the UK. Dubliner Gavin Maguire performed well to reach the semi finals of this event before losing to Zilesnick.
In the Men’s Singles McCreery also had a magnificent run to the semi finals defeating Lewis Williams, Sean Cullen and the highly ranked David McBeath (who had in the previous round knocked out 3rd seeded Niall Cameron at the last eight stage to set up a semi final confrontation with eventual winner Po Huang Chen (Chinese Taipei). After an excellent match with many fantastic rallies, Chen completed a 3-1 victory. Po Chen went on to win the event after a hard fought win against English man Damien Nicholls.
Claire Nelson was also impressive, winning the Under 21 Girls after a series of hard fought victories with impressive 5 set wins over Angharad Phillips, Melissa Wright and Yolanda King to set up a final showdown with Natalie Slater. The final lived up to expectations with the pendulum of power swinging one way then the other. Claire clawed her way back into the match after trailing 1-2 in sets to turn it around in her favour after some devastating play to win 11-6 in the fifth.
Amanda Mogey had an excellent run to the semi finals in the Women’s Singles, with good wins over Melissa Wright, Vicky Smith and Sally Smith to reach the semi-final stage. In the semi-final with Welsh number 1 Naomi Owen a shock looked possible when Amanda won the first set. However Naomi won the next three sets after some enthralling rallies to book her place in the final which she won defeating Egle Adomelyte.
Dublin player Ryan Flood recorded a series of fine wins to take the Band 4 Men’s Singles event, beating Matt Rogers, Scott Cundy and Lee Morgan to reach the final. In the final he beat Welsh player, Lewis Williams, 3/1.
Mark McGuiggan in his first ever English Grand Prix tournament did well to finish 2nd in Band 6, and will have learnt a lot from watching and competing with such a high calibre of players. Keith Knox also played well in reaching the quarter-finals of the Under 21 Men’s Singles.