Sunday saw a long, exhausting, gritty day of tournament badminton, with the Cambs Seniors Players (Restricted) tournament stretching everyone involved to their limits.
Mixed: Early in the competition, first seeds Olga Bryant and Mindaugas Dabasinskas signalled their intent with commanding wins over Tom Frearson/Alyson Savill and Paul Heads/Jacquie Dennis. Third seeds Simon Woodhouse and Natalie Taylor also eased themselves into gear with straight-sets wins over Martyn Clark/Dianne Baker and Joe Pickering/Amanda Godfrey. The other half of the draw was more surprising. While fourth seeds Neil Place and Jen Hewitt booked their semi final slot early, the unseeded pair of Sam Scharf and Louise Tarbit were rampaging through the bottom of the table, defeating first Daniel Bates/Jess Sharman, and then overpowering second seeds Sara Mason/James Wilson.
In the semi finals, the seeding finally caught up with Sam and Louise, and Min and Olga triumphed over Simon and Natalie. Both games stretching to three ends. In the final, Min's movement and Olga's control proved too much for Neil and Jen. The first end slipped away 21-4, but they re-grouped and although losing the second end, had made the eventual victors work much harder for their 21-15 win.
In the mixed plate competition, the calm head of Sharon Chandler, and the power of Martin Harvey, proved too much for the rest of the competitors, and they won the final 21-18 against Martyn Clark and Dianne Baker.
Ladies Doubles: With a relatively small draw, the ladies doubles competition was quite compact. First seeds Sara Mason and Natalie Taylor cruised to the finals with two straight-sets victories over Emma Brewster/Angela Sharman, and then Katie Morton/Jess Sharman. Second seeds Olga Bryant/Jen Hewitt took the same route, with similar wins over Dianne Baker/Stacy Knoop and Jacquie Dennis/Holly Gayle.
In the final, Sara and Natalie proved simply too powerful and consistent for the new pairing of Olga and Jen, and they won comfortably 21-11, 21-8.
In the ladies plate competition, Louise Tarbit and Laurel Bennett defeated Alla Akselrod and Dan Tan 21-16.
Mens doubles: This saw a very strong draw, with the County welcoming a number of new or returning players this season, as well as many existing players having improved significantly. Title holders Neil Place and Simon Woodhouse had an extremely long and arduous path to the final, which required them to grind out results against many strong pairs. Nonetheless they survived nail-biting three-enders against Graham Barr/Will Hodgkinson, and again against Daniel Bates/Sam Scharf.
In the other half of the draw, new pairings Paul Heads/James Wilson and Tom Li/Mindaugas Dabasinskas were both working their way up the table, albeit with more comfortable victories. Once the seeds met, Min and Tom proved too powerful, and beat Paul and James 21-17, 21-15.
The final proved to be a superb testament to the days badminton. Powerful and fast, all four players gave everything of themselves on the court. In the end, Simon and Neil finally fell foul of the three-ender. Having stretched every sinew to drive to victory 21-19 in the first, they then found Min and Tom too strong, and the younger pair eventually prevailed 21-11, 21-18.
In the mens doubles plate, there was the unusual occurrence of the final being played twice. Last year's final was never played, so it was completed before the competition began! In an extremely unusual turn of events, Joe and Stephen Pickering ended up winning the same title twice, as they triumphed in the 2011 final against Owen Green/Martin Harvey, and in the 2012 final against Tom Frearson/Geoff Green.