U17 County Challenge thriller for Daniel

daniel icc 2014FastStep’s Daniel Hatton reports on an exhausting week of badminton at the very top county level for Sussex at the Harrod U17 County Challenge 2014 in Nottingham. We’re very proud of you Daniel!

“To be chosen for the most prestigious National Badminton Tournament (open only to the chosen top 5 boys and top 5 girls in each county) in all the British Isles that would last for 4 jam packed days, was to be an experience of a lifetime. I had high expectations, and I was not to be disappointed…

Having spent Sunday travelling to Nottingham University with my team and sleeping overnight in the University accommodation on campus, I had been told countless number of times by them that the atmosphere was like no other event.That became evidently clear as Sussex arrived Monday afternoon at 1 of 3 different sport centres located on campus that we would be travelling to.

Fdaniel_iccirstly all 36 counties were separated into Groups of 6, then depending on where you finished, would be matched up with other similarly placed counties across the different groups and so on. Each rubber would consist of 10 sets of games against each county in your box (2xboys singles, 2xboys doubles, 1xmixed & same for the girls) with each game consisting of best of 3 to 15 points.

Sussex started their first match against Cumbria, and as expected the atmosphere was like a World Cup Final: the deafening noise from Air Horns, Mini-Saxophones and even a Full Drum Kit filled the hall, giving everyone a great sense of comradeship.

Having comfortably beaten Cumbria & Devon, we drew 5-5 against Nottinghamshire so the win was decided on number of games to 15 and we lost by just one (playing until 10.30pm!).

We still had 2 Counties to play in our group on Tuesday, starting at 9am. Having easily beaten Shropshire we lost to Buckinghamshire (who went on to win), we finished 3rd and were moved into a new box with Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire, who Sussex both easily beat, therefore coming top of our box. By now tiredness was creeping up on everyone and injuries were becoming a common factor across the Tournament.

Efficiently by Wednesday afternoon, Sussex was selected into a new group of four which in turn would decide where we came overall in the competition. Once again noise now louder came from all players occupying the University Sports Centre. Sussex was victorious over both Middlesex and Oxfordshire. However, against Warwickshire we drew 5-5 and 11-11 on games so it came down to points and we lost by just 11 points (272-265), putting us in 14th overall in the British Isles out of 36 counties.

daniel_icc2To sum up, Sussex played 10 counties – won 7, lost 1 & effectively drew 2. A fantastic achievement especially considering our team was primarily made up of younger players.

Aside from the Badminton, the cafeteria on campus was excellent, which is good as we all trudged back at 9 o’clock most evenings! We even managed to squeeze in a game or two of bowling for some light relief!

The ICC certainly lived up to my high expectation and is an experience I won’t forget. Playing 2nd boys’ singles at such a high standard certainly raised my own game. So for those young up and coming badminton players, I would make sure I aimed to be picked for what is the highest National level of Badminton for U17.”

Daniel Hatton