Photograph Copyright © 2013 John Upham Photography
The Ulster teams have just returned from Weekend 1 from this year’s Junior British League which was held at Lilleshall Sports Centre in Shropshire, England.
Four teams in total travelled to this event with 4 NPCs. For many of the young squad travelling, this was their first chance at competing for Ulster outside of Ireland. The standard of play throughout all divisions was extremely high and our players were tested in every single match.
Our most experienced team competing over the weekend was the Ulster Girls ‘A’ comprising of Lucy Elliott, Erin Thompson and Rebecca Finn who were competing in Division 1. With Annalise Walker joining the senior ranks and Emma Ludlow now competing for the Irish Girls team, two members from last season’s ‘B’ team stepped up to the mark to join Lucy Elliott in the top team.
The girls played fantastically all weekend with all three girls contributing to ensure vital wins over their opponents remaining undefeated as a team throughout the weekend. The girls currently sit at the top of the table going into the second weekend and are on course to win the Division. At number 1 Lucy Elliott was majestic winning 100% of her matches throughout the weekend. At only 13 years old, Rebecca Finn showed excellent composure and a high level of play throughout to win 8 out of her 10 matches against much older opponents. Erin Thompson chipped in well with 4 wins, winning a vital encounter against Draycotts Lauren Evans to ensure a victory for Ulster over second placed Draycott. Due to their performances, high standard of sportsmanship, dress, team spirit and co-operation, the girls won ‘Girls Team of the Weekend’ which is a fantastic achievement.
The Ulster Girls ‘B’ team mentored by Ashley Givan found the tough going in Division 3 and inexperience showed at times. For all three girls, this was their first outing at this event. The girls did well to secure a draw against Wales ‘B’ which was the highlight for this team. Emma McSorley performed best for the team winning two of her matches with both Elizabeth Cathcart and Megan Carson winning one match each. The girls lost many matches in the fifth set and will be looking to turn these close defeats into wins in the next weekend. The girls will have learnt a lot from this weekend.
The Ulster Boys ‘A’ team currently sit in 5th position in Division 3b winning two of their matches and losing 3 close matches. The boys lost agonising 2-4 defeats to Urban TTC and Fursion 1 and had chances to secure the draw or even win these matches. Kris Foster competed well throughout the weekend winning 50% of his matches including an impressive win over Lawrence Stacey from Guernsey. Eric Shekleton won four of his matches with Jonathan Porter winning three matches. If the boys can reverse 2-4 losses against Urban TTC and Fusion 1, they should have a good chance of making the top 3 in this Division.
The Ulster Boys ‘B’ team also found the going tough in Division 4a. The trio of Ryan McConkey, Harry McGoldrick and Ethan Duffy registered a good win against Crusaders 4-2 but were unable to add any more points to the board and currently sit in joint 5th position in the Division. Ryan McConkey as the most experienced player in the team lead well from the front winning 50% of his matches. Harry McGoldrick in his first competition outside of Ireland performed well to win three of his matches. Harry lost a series of close five set matches and this experience will help him for the next weekend. At only 12 years old, Ethan Duffy struggled against his much older opponents, some as old at 18 years of age. Ethan performed to the best of his ability and can take many positives from this trip.
Three players from Ulster represented the Irish teams at this event also with the female duo of Emma Ludlow and Hannah Lynch-Dawson competing in the Premier Division. Both girls excelled against the best junior players from Great Britain with Emma winning 60% of her matches and Hannah winning 40% of her matches.
Zak Wilson featured for the Irish boys side in Division 1 winning 80% of his matches. The Irish boys incidently won ‘Boys Team of the Weekend’. It is a fantastic achievement for two sides from Ireland to win these awards.
Congratulations to all of the players that competed over the weekend and thanks go to the four coaches, Amanda Mogey, Ashley Givan, Stephen Slater and Kieran Reilly for coaching and looking after the teams over the weekend.