The 2015 National Junior Badminton Championships served off last night at the Wildey Gymnasium with both Amanda Haywood and Shae Martin signalling their intentions for complete dominance with both defending champions making light work of their opposition.
The crafty Martin cruised to victories in both the U17 and U19 singles categories by defeating Nathan Linton 21-3, 21-4 and Hassani Collymore 21-6, 21-5 respectively to advance to the quarter-final rounds. Linton and Collymore were simply no match for the more experienced and skillful Martin as he controlled his matches from start to finish with superior shot selection and deceptive placement.
Martin is the heavy favourite to take the top shot in both divisions, and with both Cory Fanus and Sabeel Foster graduating to the senior ranks it is almost assured.
Similar to Martin, Haywood will bid to become a double singles champion over the U17 and U19 divisions. She opened her campaign with a clinical win in the U19 category over Neah Callender 21-5, 21-1 in her semi-final match. The diminutive Haywood moved Callender to all areas of the court while easily controlling the tempo of the game. Only Onika Moe stands between her and the title, as Moe dispatched Krystal Clarke 21-15, 21-8 in the 2nd semi-final.
Despite the dominance of the usual suspects, the most intriguing of the battles on the opening night occurred between Nicholas Sobers and Kodie King in the U19 Boys division. King narrowly edged Sobers taking the first game but in the second, Sobers used his speed and his outstanding defensive skills to level the contest.
In the deciding game Sobers employed more of the same tactics while King had no answer. Both boys showed tremendous skill and determination but in the end Sobers secured the 22-24, 21-17, 21-16 win over King booking his place in the quarter-final round.
The competition will be contested over five age divisions (U11, U13, U15, U17, 19) over the next two days and will conclude with the finals on Sunday night.