A total of twenty pairs had entered the Mixed Doubles Wheelchair competition in the World Para-Badminton Championships and Ireland’s Laura Lee Jenkins was paired with India’s Abu Hubaida and enjoyed an excellent, though hard-earned win over the Swiss pair Christian Hamboeck/Cynthia Mathez 21-18 14-21 21-9 but could just not get over the line against the strong Russian pair Stepanov/Kuzmenko, despite having taken the opening set 21-13.
The Russian pair responded to take the second 21-16 but in the third Laura and her partner Abu had six-game points but were unable to convert them while the Russian pair took advantage of their one game point to secure an important 22-20 victory in the group stages.
They were later up against the No9/10 seeds in Hiroshi Murayama/Rie Ogura and even in the opening set prevented their opponents from running away with the match restricting the Japanese pair to winning no more than five consecutive points with the number of consecutive points won only slightly higher in the second.
In the women’s singles Emma Farnham was up against the No 2 seed Rebecca Bedford, losing in straight sets but should finish runner-up in Group B with a victory over Simone Emilie Meyer Larsen when they meet on Thursday, but it is in the Women’s doubles SS6 that should see Emma and her partner Maria Bartusz (Poland) confirm their No2 seeding and contest the final with a silver medal as their reward.
In Group B they are certainly more than capable of beating the other partnerships Randika Doling and Carmen Giuliana Poveda Flores, Kobie Jane Donovan/Simone Emilie Meyer Larsen, and Yasmin EIssa/Ruhi Satish Shingade.
Other members of the Ireland team were to face seeded players in their opening matches including Chris Stewart, who could hardly have wished for a more difficult opponent in his opening match in Group C of the Men’s Singles Wheelchair 1 class with one of the favourites Dong Seop Lee (Korea), a winner in the USA Para-Badminton International at the end of October, winning in straight sets.
In the Men’s Doubles Chris was back in tandem with Michael Smith, who was responsible for getting him into the sport and they faced the No3/4 seeds Ho Yuen Chan and Thomas Wandschneider and a pair from China Jianpeng and Zimo Qu..
In the Men’s Singles Wheelchair 1 class Michael is due to play Young-Chin MI (Germany) and the No5/8 seed Marcelo Alves Conceicao in Group G.
Stephen Halpin also met one of the favourites in his opening match, the No3/4 seed Sukant Kadam which he lost in straight sets but he was unfortunate not to get his first victory in Group D against Van Tan Pham (Vietnan) when he lost narrowly 21-14 21-17.
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Piece by Brian Kelly.