Posted by Rob Short at 02:03 on 11 March 2013
The Yonex Junior National Badminton Championships is the highlight event for junior Welsh qualified players. This year, the Junior Nationals are being held at Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff where players will compete over 2 days (U11s, U15s and U19s on 16th March and the U13s and U17s on 17th March) in order to claim the accolade of Junior National Champion.
The event attracts players from Junior National Squads as well as Development Groups, County squads and club players. Organiser James Phillips says of the event, “The Yonex Junior National Badminton Championships is one of those rare occasions where players from all across Wales fight it out to be crowned Welsh National Champion. It is one of our most eagerly anticipated events, and something everyone here at Badminton Wales looks forward to.”
In the U11 Boys, Shamanth Moodalbyle (Conwy) has had a great season on the shuttle circuit and has earned himself the No1 seeding in the singles event. Unlike the U11 Boys, the U11 Girls competition has many of the players from last year’s competition. 2012 Girls’ singles winner, Aimee Whiteman (Gwent), is not defending her singles title but will be defending the girls’ doubles title that she won with twin sister Lucie last year.
In the U13s competition, Oliver Stansfield (Gwent), who claimed the three titles last year in the U11 Boys events, will be looking to recreate his winning form in the older age group with his doubles partner Elliot Simmonds and new mixed partner, Katie Whiteman (Gwent). Whiteman won the mixed title last year with brother Tomos so will be keen to hold on to the title along with her U13 Girls singles title and the U13 Girls doubles title with new partner Elis Richards (Swansea).
There is strong competition in the U15 events with the age group sporting the second highest entries. With both Boys singles finalists from last year moving up to the U17 age group, the competition is thrown open however both of last year’s semi-finalists, brothers Scott and Andrew Oates (NEWBA), are in the Boys Singles draw. Scott Oates also narrowly missed out on the Boys doubles title last year with partner James Ellaway (Gwent) but will be looking to go one better this year with new partner Tomos Whiteman (Gwent). Kelly Saunders(Gwent) will be looking to preserve her singles title in her second year at U15 whilst Gean Sou Mo (Mid Glamorgan) and Katie Whiteman will look to secure the girls doubles title for the second year in a row. Last year’s U15 mixed champion, Sophie Arrighi (Cardiff) will be looking claim the title again with her U15 partner, Scott Oates.
The U17 titles are likely to be the most hotly contested. Last year’s U15s boys singles and doubles champion, Tsung Fong Mo (Mid Glamorgan) will now be seeking the titles at U17 along with doubles partner Matthew Pritchard (Cardiff). Pritchard will also want to keep the title of mixed doubles champion with partner Sophie Arrighi at this new age group. Last year’s girls doubles champion Gean Sou Mo will be eager to keep her title and is competing this year with Emilie Gwilt (Powys) whilst Ellen Mahenthiralingam (Cardiff) will be keen to improve upon her U17 Girls singles runner-up title of last year.
The U19s sees Jordan Hart (Pembrokeshire), looking to keep her Girls Singles title as well as her mixed title with new partner, Will Painter (Vale). However there is strong competition as Michael Kinnear (Gwent) and mixed partner, Ellen Mahenthiralingam, will be looking to emulate the success they had in the U17s. Kinnear will also be looking to win the singles and doubles with partner Matt Barrell (Cardiff) to ensure his triple success at U17 last year is repeated in this older age group.