Bicester’s Christelle Rajapaksa wins Under 21s
Vicky Coll began her morning campaign with a four game group loss to Scarlett Anders (Middlesex/Cadet ranked 19). She recovered to nudge home against the higher ranked Emily Beasley (Warks/Junior 49) 12-10, 12-10, 12-10. A further straightforward win over Sasha Withers (Notts) gave her a chance of qualifying for the main draw. This quickly became a reality, as the top seed in her group, Niamh Scarborough (Cheshire/ Junior 46) conceded 0-3 through injury. In the quarter-final she encountered Lauren Loosemore (Devon/Junior 53), who had overwhelmed her at the last Burton tournament: this time it was a desperately close match, with Vicky carving out a 9-6 lead in the decider before losing 10-12. Lauren herself went on to play an equally gripping final game against Scarlett, blowing a 10-6 lead to finish as runner-up. Vicky, having started the season at 120 and currently ranked 73, is honing her counter-hitting game to a sharp edge at the moment and steadily making her way back into the top 50 junior girls.
In the afternoon Bicester’s Christelle Rajapaksa blew the opposition away with a scintillating all-action display in Under 21 Girls. She beat the dangerous Emily Beasley (Warks/Junior ranked 49), dominating for two games and taking the 3rd at deuce. Next up was the top seeded Charlotte Marsden (Herts/Junior 23), a very powerful hitter but still out of sorts after losing her junior semi-final. This went the distance, Christelle keeping Charlotte under constant pressure with her own powerful hitting and extracting some nervy errors as she eventually prevailed 11-8. That was the last we saw of the top seed, who at this point left the arena never to return! Isobella Khan (Avon/ Junior 51), a fluent stroke-maker, also fought her way through the competition, defeating Vicky Coll 3-0 inter alias, and this set the stage for a final hard-hitting showdown between two very determined young ladies. Christelle edged home 11-9 in the first two games, then losing the 3rd by a similar margin before taking a 10-2 lead in the 4th, eventually getting over the line 11-7. Vicky Coll took on Emily Beasley for 3rd place and beat her again, this time going to five splendid games. This was a fine event in spite of the disappointment of losing the most talented player en route, and great credit goes to the two Oxfordshire girls.
The top three in Under 21 Girls, Isobella Khan (Avon), Christelle Rajapaksa (Oxon) and Vicky Coll (Oxon).