Tony Stephenson defends title at Ulster Open

Tony Stephenson
Tony Stephenson

Tony Stephenson, successfully defended his Ulster Open Mens Singles Title and surely did his claims for selection in the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games side no harm at all by adding the Mens Doubles title with his Alpha clubmate Tony Murphy.

With the size of the badminton squad yet to be confirmed in addition to the personnel heading for this year’s Games to be announced soon the squad were each hoping to cement their selection with good performances at the National Badminton Centre in Lisburn.

Stephenson , who was a member of the squad which competed in Delhi last time round came through to face Jonathan Harron in the semi-final and booked his place in the final winning 21-5 21-16 while the unseeded Stuart Lightbody and Andrew McKee battled it out for nigh on an hour before McKee won 16-21 21-14 21-19.

McKee was however never to regain the high level of defence which he had shown against Lightbody and went down 21-13 21-9 while Stephenson was to partner Tony Murphy to add the doubles crown when the No2 seeds beat the top seeds Ciaran Chambers and Ryan Stewart 21-16 21-11.

Alannah Stephenson knocked out the top seed Rachael Darragh in the quarter-final 21-8 in the third set and had a 21-6 21-9 victory over Rebecca Getty in the semi and lifted the ladies singles crown beating former champion Sinead Chambers 21-8 22-20 in the final.

Sinead though was to gain revenge for this defeat when she took the womens doubles title,partnering Caroline Black. The top seeds cruised through the competition without losing a single set and beat Keady Smith and Alannah Stephenson 21-13 21-16.

Without a doubt the most competitive of the finals was the mixed doubles competition and provided two thrilling semi-finals of the highest order with Stuart Lightbody and Caroline Black knocking out the No1 seeds Ciaran and Sinead Chambers 21-19 15-21 21-17 only to see the title snatched from their grasp by No2 seeds Ryan Stewart and Keady Smith 19-21 23-21 22-20.