Halifax youngsters claim top honours

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HALIFAX’S Sam Clayton started the new season in dominating fashion, by winning both the under 15s and 18s at the Blackpool 1 Star event.

Clayton, who did not drop a single game in his 12 matches, was exceptional from start to finish, commanding points with his precise loops and powerful attacking play while also showing great finesse and defensive skills.

Clayton beat Jordan Brookes and Scott Fletcher (Cheshire) in the respective finals.

Alex Shaw also started well by winning the Junior Plate competition

Once again Halifax players produced a string of fine performances in the Yorkshire Trials.

The most positive result came from Tom Bell. After coming a respectable second in the under 15s, thus earning himself a place in the county first team, he then won the under 18 trials, defeating the player who beat him in the under 15s Abhijay Mishra (Hull).

Marcus Reynolds also earned the right to represent his county in the under 18s second team despite only just turning 15.

The day looked to be going sour for Reynolds who, after a shock defeat to Adam McKay (Keighley, looked set to miss out on one of the top five spots needed to gain qualification.

However, after being drawn in the same group as Halifax’s number one seed Matthew Stephens, he produced an exceptional turnaround which saw him out-power Stephens in a fantastic 3-1 victory, guaranteeing him a top four position. Reynolds then beat Jacob Barber (Hull) to secure an impressive third place. James Foster, who despite losing just two games, finished fifth after also defeating Stephens.

In the under 15s, Sam Clayton suffered the same fate as Stephens. In what came down to be the deciding match, Clayton was defeated 3-1 by James Hobson, but recovered to win his remaining matches to secure fifth place.

Two other eye catching performances came from Ben Fillingham and Felicity Raud. Fillingham finished fourth in the under 11 boys and Raud finished second in the under 11 girls despite being just eight and nine years old respectively

Stephens then put the disappointment of the trials behind him as he defeated the rest of the competition to win the Halifax 2 Star competition.

Stephens, who was top seed, was made to work for the title with team mate Sam Clayton testing him in a four set victory before beating Bradley Wood and Abhijay Mishra in two five set thrillers.

Thomas Bell lost in the other semi-final to Mishra in straight sets after beating Liam Chipman in a five set tussle in the quarters and James Foster also reached the quarter finals before losing out to Wood and Bell respectively, while Marcus Reynolds recovered from failing to get through the group stages to win the Plate.

Jake Clarke turned in an improved performance to reach the quarter finals of the under 13s and the under 15 plate semi-final before losing to team mate Alex Shaw, who then lost to fellow team mate Morgan Burton in the final.

Kieran-Lee Bowe showed his promise by winning the under 13 Plate, while Ben Fillingham both finished as runners up in the under 11 categories, dispatching far more experienced players in the process.