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Badminton tourney serves off

The 2014 Caribbean Alliance Insurance Co. Ltd. Senior National Badminton Championships served off tonight at the Barbados Community College and will continue each night starting at 6:30 p.m. each night with the elimination rounds until this Saturday’s grand finals.

Tonight’s focus was the men’s singles where last year’s champion Bradley Pilgrim began his title defence. Falling in the top half of the draw, his journey will be far from easy as he will have to eventually face either his doubles partner Dakiel Thorpe, or one of the younger guns, under-19 champ Sabeel Foster, and Cory Fanus.

Sabeel Foster (left) and Cory Fanus are among the top players who will be in action during the championships.

Sabeel Foster (left) and Cory Fanus are among the top players who will be in action during the championships.

Andre Padmore, last year’s losing finalist is seeded No. 2, allowing him to fall in the bottom half and it is expected he will have an easier road to finals with his only challengers being D’Andre Thorpe and Damien Howell.

Other younger players such as Shae Martin, the King brothers and other junior national players will contest this year’s finals and with the Caribbean championships (CAREBACO), PAN AM and Commonwealth Games around the corner, the high standard of play would benefit all with their respective preparations.

On the ladies side, Mariama Eastmond will be seeking to secure her third consecutive singles title. Either Monyata Riviera or Amanda Haywood will face her early, but she will be the favourite to book her finals ticket. No. 2 seeded Shari Hope will battle with her club mate Sabrina Scott in her first match.

Scott will be no walkover, but Hope like Eastmond, will be expected to proceed to the next round. If she does, her focus would then have to most likely turn to Tamisha Williams. This match-up could possibly be one of the most intriguing match-ups of the ladies draw, as both have similar styles of play and are in great form.

Within the doubles fixtures, Hope and Eastmond and the pair of Pilgrim and Dakiel Thorpe will defend the ladies and men’s’ titles respectively. The smart money would be on either combination, but neither can afford to be complacent.

Ladies pairs, Scott and Haywood make a very good partnership and Riviera and Williams will pose problems for all-comers as well. Unlike the singles draw, it is the bottom half in the men’s’ doubles that is loaded. No. 2 seeds Greg Padmore and Nicholas Reifer could make an early exit having drawn the U19 champions Fanus/Foster in this first match.

Then the pair of Shae Martin and D’Andre Thorpe will face Jade Browne and Andre Padmore. Padmore will be pairing will Browne for the first time in his career at Nationals, as former long-standing partner Kevin Wood is not participating in the competition. Both men are club mates and more importantly seasoned players, therefore, they should be able to gel well and advance over their younger opponents.

The mixed category will usher in new champions as the duo of Kevin Wood and Sabrina Scott will not have the opportunity to defend. Last year’s losing finalists Dakiel Thorpe and Mariama Eastmond would be the odds-on favourites to win this division and take one of the sponsor’s winning cheques, but their road will not be easy as they will face stiff competition within the early rounds.

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