U18 Inter Counties Tournament 2024 Roundup

  • By IOMBA
  • April 9, 2024
Photo credit: Alan Spink

The u18s Inter Counties Tournament stands out as a pinnacle event on the badminton calendar for this age group and this year was held from 4th – 7th April at the usual venue of Nottingham University. This competition brings together the most talented young badminton players from 30 different counties and well over 300 players, managers and coaches. The Isle of Man had entered a relatively young team this year, with some members participating in the tournament for the first time. With several years ahead to compete again for many of them, their focus was on gaining valuable experience, elevating their game to a higher level as well as gaining those important grading wins that were also up for grabs! The competition certainly delivered and provided the team with some big wins, plenty of strategic play and tactics, the exhilarating atmosphere of a team competition, as well as the opportunity to forge many new friendships and share in the highs and lows. They all thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to test their abilities against formidable opponents from some of the strongest counties in the UK and Ireland.

Huge thanks go to our kit sponsor Capital International Bank as well as the Isle of Man Steam Packet for their assistance with travel.

The Isle of Man team was made up of Martin Cheung, Tommy Cheng, Edward Cheung, Lok Yien Cheung, Euan McConnell, Laura Garrity, Kelly Domingo, Ameya Malikireddy and Fatima Syed.

Here’s how they got on…


Match 1 v Leinster

Looking back on the first report from last year, the first line reads like deja vu – “An almost impossible task to start off the tournament, being drawn against the top seeded team” but this year it was Leinster. Stress levels were high and we were just focused on not getting egged (losing 15-0). First up was the two mixed pairs of Lok and Laura and Euan and Ameya.  Both pairs managed to play out some decent rallies with special mention going to Ameya and her lightening reactions at the net and Euan setting up a number of big jump smashes. Both pairs recorded respectable scores of 15-5,15-7 and 15-6, 15-2. So far no eggs.

Martin and Tommy had the task of taking on some quality lads in the boys’ singles. Martin played really well and forced a number of really long rallies and after pushing the lad all the way in the second game, recorded the best result of the tie losing 15-8,15-13. Tommy also gave a good show of himself but unfortunately his opponent was just too strong and he lost the match 15-9, 15-8.

The girls’ singles was always going to be about keeping our chins up so to speak as the two Leinster girls were graded ‘C’ and ‘D’ respectively, which to put it in perspective is higher than the majority of our senior county team! Kelly and Fatima did the team proud and between them managed 5 points across the two ties. More importantly the pair of them came off, dusted themselves off and reset for their doubles. No mean feat I can tell you.

Tommy and Martin again put on a good show at first men’s doubles, but in line with the theme for this tie the opponents were simply too strong but they manged to earn 11 and 5 points.  Lok and Edward again had another tough match with Lok demonstrating some really intelligent play and the pair of them managing to get 7 and 9 points.  Last up was the girls doubles and all four girls fought hard with lots of laughs coming from Fatima and Ameya’s court and an almighty cheer of relief when the first point was earnt and the egg avoided. Laura and Kelly managed 6 and 4 points with Ameya and Fatima recording 3 both of which were more than respectable in the circumstances.

All in all a much less disastrous start than we had feared and every one of them gave their all, as with last year we are immensely proud of the whole team for remaining calm under pressure and producing some great shots and rallies along with managing to walk away positive and with a smile on their face.


Match 2 v Surrey

On to our second tough match of the day and this time we started with Lok and Kelly and Euan and Fatima.  Both pairs tried their best with Lok and Kelly having a real battle in their first game and only narrowly losing it 15-12. Unfortunately, in the second game the momentum was with Surrey and they took the win 15-3.  Euan and Fatima started their first game with a 3 pointer and then managed to increase this to 9 in the second.

Martin was up next and executed a great performance bringing home the win 15-9, 15-13 after some great tactical advice from Steve (so I am told!).  Tommy had a three-game battle, something he did a lot last year I seem to remember, and unfortunately came off the wrong side in the end losing 11-15, 15-7, 7-15.  This time the girls’ singles were also nail-biting stuff. Laura played well throughout but suffered a couple of bad runs of points to eventually go down 15-13, 15-11. Ameya started positively with the comment “I hope you are not expecting me to play as well as Laura just did!” (BTW – yes, we were) and surprised herself by keeping point for point with her opposition most of the way through the first game and just losing out 15-12. With a bit of confidence under her belt she came back from 11-14 down in the second game to win 15-14 and post the girls first game onto the board.  Unfortunately, the final game did not go her way but hopefully along with Laura’s performance proved that things are on the up for the girl’s singles.

Next on were Martin and Tommy in the boys’ doubles and they kept their heads to the end and secured the second win of the day taking the games 15-11, 15-12, which also represents a grading win for Tommy (again this sounds a bit like last year!).  Lok and Edward had a much tougher time but still managed a respectable 9 and 6 points.  Laura and Kelly stepped up for the first girl’s doubles and struggled to get into their stride in the first game losing out 15-4 but regrouped in the second and kept pace with the Surrey girls most of the way eventually losing 15-12.  Fatima and Ameya had two tough games but fought hard and earned themselves 5 and 7 points.

Overall, the games in this match were a lot closer and hopefully left everyone with the confidence that we can get better and better with every match.



ICT Days 2-4:

Apologies for the lack of individual match reports this year but things got intense and team selection became extremely tactical and took up enormous amounts of the coaches’ time. We realised that Steve had secretly come up with his own tactic as we were searching for him when about a 100 kids were herded outside in their pyjamas looking sleep deprived after a shock early wake up call from the unplanned fire alarm – he may or may not have been the cause!

First match of the day was the final one of the first round and we were up against Devon. Lok and Kelly and Euan and Fatima started us off with the mixed doubles and unfortunately both lost in two with Euan and Fatima so close in the first just losing out 15-14. Next up was Martin and Tommy in the boys’ singles. Martin started us off with a 15-1 win but his E graded opponent came to life in the second game and pushed hard but Martin maintained control of the game and brought home the win at 15-13 earning himself a grading win. Tommy had an up and down game but secured the win at 15-9, 10-15 and 15-8. Ameya unfortunately lost 15-13, 15-11 at second singles whilst Laura romped to a 15-4, 15-2 win at first ladies gaining her fist grading win.  Going into the level doubles we were tied at 3 all.  Martin and Tommy proved too strong for Devon’s first men with Tommy earning his second doubles grading win and unfortunately Lok and Edward struggled against a tough pair at second mens leaving us 4-4. Kelly and Laura struggled to get into their stride and lost their doubles to 8 and 10.  Fatima and Ameya took their first game to a nail biting 15-14 to give us hope for the draw but the went down 12-15 in the second.  The girls, in their first ever ICT, handled the pressure amazingly and romped to victory winning the third 15-7 and earning them both grading wins and leaving us at 5-5.  Unfortunately, we were pipped to the post on the number of games won losing out 12-10 but confidence was beginning to rise.

Round 2 and this time we were facing Lincolnshire. Both mixed pairs of Lok and Ameya and Euan and Fatima struggled against two strong pairs and lost in two games.  We had begun to rely on Martin and Tommy to get 2 points on the board and they did not disappoint, Martin with a comfortable two sets win and Tommy, liking to get his monies worth as usual going to three and taking the 3rd game comfortably at 15-7 and earning his first singles grading win of the tournament. Kelly was up at first singles this time and unfortunately finished the wrong side of a tough three setter. Laura took on the second singles and after winning a hard first game to 13 took the second much more comfortably to 9. Martin and Tommy took first mens 15-8, 15-9 but unfortunately Lok and Edward were unable to find a way to beat their pair.  Laura and Kelly struggled against a good Lincolnshire pair losing in two whilst Fatima and Ameya secured a great two sets win at 15-12, 15-4 leaving the final score at 5-5 in match wins, 11 all in games and Lincolnshire taking the win by a frustrating 8 points.

Our second match in this group was against Cheshire. Lok and Kelly and this time Euan and Ameya started the ball rolling and whilst Lok and Kelly unfortunately lost in two, Euan and Ameya played a great game and took the win in the second mixed 15-12,15-11 giving Ameya her first mixed grading win. Martin and Tommy did not disappoint winning their games comfortably 15-7, 15-5 and 15-10, 15-3.  Laura and Fatima took on the singles against two really strong girls and unfortunately lost both games in two leaving us tied at 3 all.  Tommy and Martin bagged the first mens doubles easily whilst Lok and Edward narrowly missed out on their match going down 15-14 in the second game taking us for a second time into the girls doubles on 4 games all. Cheshire’s first ladies were just too strong for Laura and Kelly and whilst Ameya and Fatima battled hard taking the second ladies to a third game it was not to be and tie finished 6-4 to Cheshire.

The last match of round 2 was against Norfolk. Lok and Kelly and Euan and Fatima started us off in the two mixed doubles again and after some great play Lok and Kelly unfortunately lost 15-7, 15-12 but Euan and Fatima came back from losing 10-15 in the first to work really well together and win the next two games 15-11,15-11.  Martin and Tommy followed this with two solid no drama wins in the boys’ singles. Laura managed a solid win at first ladies taking the games 15-9, 15-14 and Ameya won hers almost in reverse 15-14, 15-8. This provided Laura with her second grading singles win. The boys doubles saw a change of strategy and the experienced Martin and Tommy were split up to help steady the younger boys. Martin and Lok combined well and managed to take their match 15-7, 15-13 giving Lok his first level doubles grading win of the comp. Tommy and Edward played some extremely dramatic rallies and managed to secure another win 15-13, 15-11. The girls’ doubles produced two terrifying games to watch with both going to three and whilst Ameya and Fatima came out on the winning side Laura and Kelly narrowly lost 14-15 in the final game.  This left the Isle of Man taking the win 8-2 and confidence levels were now up.

Now match 1 of round three against Cumbria who have two very strong boys in their team and caused a long night of discussion for the coaches trying to work out the team strategy and where those boys would be played and how best to counter this.  So, following a tactical gamble first up were Martin and Kelly in the mixed doubles against the mighty Daniel Kemp. After a marathon three games Martin and Kelly were on the wrong end of another 15-14 in the third but what a match! Tommy and Fatima teamed up in the second mixed and again had a three-game battle this time romping to a 15-3 victory in the third game earning the pair of them grading wins. The tactical shift left Edward playing first singles against one of the strong Cumbrian boys and he battled hard but unfortunately his opponent was just too strong. Lok, again playing his first singles of the competition, faced the younger Jamie Kemp and after a dramatic and exhausting three setter took the win 13-15, 15-14, 15-9. Laura and Ameya were up again in the singles and with their growing confidence secured us two more wins at 15-10, 15-13 and 15-12, 15-14. Unfortunately, the divided force of Martin and Lok and Tommy and Euan could not secure the wins in the boys doubles with the former losing in two and the latter making the opponents earn the win in three.  We were again entering the ladies doubles at 4-4. Laura and Kelly quickly secured the first ladies win at 15-11, 15-7 with another grading win whilst Fatima and Ameya kept their cool through 3 hard games and secured the win in the 3rd giving the Isle of Man the match at 6-4.

The last match of the tournament was to decide the winner of this final group ad we faced Northamptonshire. We were back to Lok and Kelly at first mixed and Euan and Fatima at second. Lok and Kelly played out of their skins to take the first mixed in 3 whilst Euan and Fatima faced a strong partnership and unfortunately lost out in two games. Martin and Tommy did the job and got us the two wins at boys’ singles whilst Laura and Ameya did the same in the singles with both of them having one really close 15-14 game to take the wins. This left Laura with the four grading wins she needs to increase her grade at the end of the next period – AMAZING WORK!  Martin and Lok played a steady game and secured their doubles match 15-4, 15-12 giving Lok his second doubles grading win of the comp. Unfortunately, Tommy and Edward could not manage the same losing their match in two sets. Fatima and Ameya continued their good form but were unable to beat their opponents losing in two. Laura and Kelly were now in their stride and after a blip in the -second game won their tie – 15-8, 8-15, 15-9. This left the Isle of Man with the 7-3 win and topping the final group and equalling our result from last year.

The coaches were delighted with the performance of the players who gave their all and are also delighted with the final result from a team of young players, most of whom should be back next year to try to turn those draws into wins.

Special thanks to Louise Mellor, Steven Quayle and Joe Garrity who coached, managed and travelled with the team.