Three of Stonehaven’s young badminton players recently made the trip to Vantaa, Finland to compete in the Finnish International Junior Championships (FIJC).
This is an elite junior tournament run alongside the Badminton Europe U19 Finnish event. In the U13 age group, Maria Leith, Mill O’Forest, and partner Anni Krzywacki, Finland, were unlucky to lose out in the doubles event to national squad mate Lily Farnood, Edinburgh, and Finnish partner, Ella Korpinen in the final 21-17, 9-21, 21-14.
Maria also had a good run in the singles reaching the quarter finals, losing to 2nd seed, Mea Immonen 21-17, 21-13.
In the mixed doubles event Maria also reached the semi-final with partner Zechen Ma, Finland, where they lost to top seeds Eero Lauri and Inalotta Suutarinen, Finland, 21-9, 21-14.
There was further success in the U17 event where brothers, Sean and Mark Leith, Stonehaven, lifted the doubles title. Unseeded in the event the boys had to beat the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeds to claim victory. Finland’s Tom Koskinen and Jan Pasenen, were their first real challenge in the quarter final which they won comfortably 21-10, 21-16.
Next up were the Estonian 2nd seeds Hendrik Neemre and Mick Ounmaa, which proved tougher opposition, however the Leith brothers claimed the victory 17-21, 21-9, 21-18. This set up the final against top seeds, Finland’s Arttu Mahonen and Iiro Nokkala. Despite being the underdogs the Scottish duo held their nerve and proved their quality coming from 20-19 down in both sets to with the match and the title 22-20, 22-20.
In the singles event Sean was unlucky to go out in the last 16 to Mahonen 21-12, 9-21, 21-19, however brother Mark disposed of him in the quarter final winning 21-19, 22-20. This set up a semi-final clash with Estonia’s Mihkel Laanes. Mark was unfortunately always playing catch up but put on a great performance but ultimately lost out 21-16, 21-14. Austria’s Wolfgang Gnedt went on to win the singles event. The mixed event also saw great performances from both Leith boys, Sean and partner Katarina Kliit, Estonia, were most unfortunate to lose out to 2nd seeds, Mahonen and Annemarie Oksa 21-7, 22-24, 23-21 in the quarter final, however Mark and Hanna Karkhaus, Finland, sent the top seeds, Nokkala and Linnea Vainula packing in the semi-final with a 21-16, 17-21, 21-16 victory.
Having already disposed of Mahonen in both the singles and doubles events Mark was keen to secure a third victory. This looked very possible as he took the first set 21-11. A change of tactics from the Finns however saw the tables turned and a second set win 21-14. The third set promised to be a thriller and started well but the Finnish pair edged ahead and their experience won through in the end winning the match and the title 21-11. All in all a fantastic performance from these local youngsters and a European title to celebrate.