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Frome triumph in Badminton encounter

Saturday 24th April saw Frome Leisure Centre take centre stage in the Badminton sporting calendar as it played host to the South West Regional finals of the National Leisure Centre Badminton Championships for the very first time.

Players from ten Leisure Centres across the south west region who successfully won through their local 1st rounds travelled to Frome with the aim of seeking a place in the national Finals on June 5th at the National Badminton Centre at Milton Keynes.

Those who came to watch were rewarded with some impressive performances not just from the home team, but from all the players attending, and perhaps more importantly, were able to witness a triumphant Team Frome winning 5 of the 10 events staged to ensure representation at the national finals.

Chris Harley from Frome’s Junior Badminton Club was in convincing form demolishing his opponents to win through in the Under 18 Boys Singles, while Francesca Slay also from the Junior Club and her 1st time in the competition, saw off her opposition to win the Under 18 Girls Singles, although Nicola Hutchings from Yeovil College Sports did make Francesca work hard for her win in their match. Junior Club Coach Clive Davis who was assisting in the running of the event, was said to be “pleased and proud” of both his junior players performance.

Linda Perry – another 1st time entrant – was triumphant in the Ladies Singles, but not until a very closely fought decider game against Norton Hill’s Hayley Richards in which Linda ultimately won 21-17.

Defending Over 50s Ladies Doubles champions Rosemary Evans and Gill Moore from VBs Badminton Club had no problem overcoming Margaret Cluett and Valerie Dewey from 5 Rivers Leisure Centre to win through, while Brian Garrett and Gary Holmes made it 5 with a fairly comfortable run to win the Over 50s Men’s Doubles.

As to the other events, in the Men’s Singles, Simon Baldwin put in some credible performances against strong opposition in his group, including a nail-biter win over 5 Rivers’ Daniel Brace. Tony Ambridge from Devizes was the ultimate winner.

Brian and Gary also competed in the Men’s Doubles and were hoping to achieve the “double”, but despite an impressive start, they had to settle for 2nd place in their group, losing out to the winning partnership of Devizes’ Tony Ambridge and Ian Dunstone who later saw off Yeovil College Sports’ young guns Frank Boyce and Doug Davies to win the final.

Clare Cardnell and Issie Tucker were not quite fortunate in the Ladies Doubles as they were up against experienced players as demonstrated in the nail biter of a final with Claire Macy and Carol Strickland from Devizes winning by just 1 point over Sharon Hillier and Rosemary Hitchins from Sturminster Newton. In the Over 50s Mixed Doubles, Issie, along with husband Ian lost out to Rosemary Hitchman and Chris Reed from Sturminster Newton.

In the Mixed Doubles, Issie this time with partner Trevor Rowe made a spirited start, but were unable to maintain the momentum. In what was the last match of the day, Laura Hiatt and Mark Ward from Tisbury fought a close game against Sturminster Newton’s Sharon Hillier and Jeff Perrie to win that particular final.

Ben Keates, the Frome Leisure Centre Sports Development and Programme Manager said afterwards: “Congratulations to all the winners of the events, and also thanks to all the other players who took part for making the day a success. Well done to those from Team Frome who have once again demonstrated that Frome has some excellent badminton players. Also, I would like to thank “Abstract Occasions” who were able to provide refreshments albeit at short notice which was definitely appreciated by those present. All I can say is good luck at the National Finals.”