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Badminton stars are so cock-sure!

Gravesend Grammar School pupils were celebrating after success in the Ashford & District Junior Badminton Tournament.

The school entered eight pairs and four of them won their groups, with another pair coming a close third.

Ivan Newling, 12, and Philip Costley, 12, won most of their matches reasonably easily, including beating fellow 12 year- olds from Gravesend, Joe Lawrence and Luke Blair, 11-2.

Matthew Lockwood, 13, and Ricky Woods, 13, were only pushed by two pairs of girls, Emma Bennett and Emma Davis and Charlotte Tate and Kate Hazell.

David Groom and Ricky Woods, both 15, also won their group easily, but this was no real surprise as they finished third earlier this year in the Sussex under-15 Open Championships earlier in the year.

They were simply too good for the group they were in, but not strong enough for the next group.

The closest-contested group was won by Gravesend's Philip Groom, 13, partnering Chatham Grammar's Dan Suggars, 14. Having lost to Kent under-14s Tom Freeman and Jason Jakes 15-14, the then lost to fellow Kent under-14s Richard Fellows and Tristian Page.

Philip and Dan then went on, in the last game, knowing they had to beat Richard and Tristan (Phil and Dan are not in the Kent squads). Phil and Dan duly won 15-5 to take the group.

Pride of place, though, must go to two players, not from Gravesend Grammar, but from Northfleet SYC Junior Badminton Club.

Daniel Capon, 16, from Northfleet Boys and Craig Spooner, 13, from Sidcup, played in the top section.

All the other players in the section were members of the Kent under-21 squad.

Although Dan and Craig lost heavily to the eventual group winners, Keith Sykes and Gareth Davies, they not only beat a pair containing this year's Kent under-17 champion (Andrew Gough) 21-12, but only narrowly failed to finish second, losing on countback to Keith Wrigley and Hayley MacCall.

Northfleet SYC's Andrew Jones and Luc Horrocks were also runners-up in one of the lower groups.

Embarrassment of the day must go to Gravesned Grammar's Jon Martin, 15 and Adam Hopkins, 15,

They went on against two diminutive 14 year-olds, Natalie Fenton and Samantha Lake, knowing that they only had to win to take their group. But they 11-5 and, as a result, finished third in their group on countback by just three points when Natalie and Samantha lost their last match to Maria and Rebecca Greenstreet.

The final enduring memory though must be of players, such as Gravesend Grammar's Mandeep Bath and Darminder Dhillon, both 12, who were playing their first-ever tournament, yet kept cheerful despite losing every game and definitely improved as the day went on.



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