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Henry stars in badminton tournament

DeCarteret College student, Gareth Henry, one month and nine days short of his 16th birthday, had arguably his best ever tournament performance on Sunday as he clinched the Open Men's Singles and Doubles titles to add to the B Division Singles and Doubles titles that he had won on the previous weekend in the ninth staging of the Chinese Benevolent Association (C.B.A.) Badminton Tournament. In addition to these wins, he paired with his sister Geordine to place second in the Open Mixed Doubles.

Henry's first final was the mixed doubles where Olympian Nigella Saunders paired with the veteran Kingsley Ford to take out the Henry siblings in three hard games, 17-21, 21-18, 21-18. The second final saw young Henry go up against one of the two selected representatives for the upcoming Pan American Games, John Martin. Henry was not seriously tested in the first game, winning 21-13, but Martin showed some spunk on court as he psyched himself to a 21-18 second game win. A tense third and final game saw the scores tied on numerous occasions before Henry showed once more that he has the ability to close out a game when he got in front just before the end and won 21-19. To get to this final, Henry had earlier in the day taken out the other Pan Am selectee, Emelio Mendez, and also the tournament favourite, Kirk Francis in the singles quarter and semi-finals.

Veteran pair

The final Open event was the Men's Doubles where Kingsley Ford and Neil Abrahams, the veteran pair seeded at number one, faced the reigning Under 17 Pan American Junior champions, Henry and Chadwick Parsons of Ardenne High. Henry and Parsons had earlier accounted for number two seeds Martin and Mendez in the semi-finals and most of the crowd was now rooting for these two young lions. They did not disappoint. They were the more dominant team in the first game, but for once failed to close and almost allowed the veterans back in before they won at 21-18. In game two, Ford and Abrahams were ahead but the two youngsters played 'catch-up' to deuce that one before loosing 21-23. The final game saw Henry using his blazing speed to good advantage against the slower but more experienced veterans to propel the Pan Am junior gold medalists to a relatively easy 21-15 win.

In the ladies matches, Alya Lewis got the better of Geordine Henry 21-12, 21-11 in the singles and then joined with Nigella Saunders to again beat Henry and her partner Tracy Morgan 21-15, 21-12 in the ladies doubles. These results gave Lewis, Saunders and Gareth Henry double wins in the Open.

The top performer in the C Division was the only 'Triple Crown' winner over the two weekends, Mikaylia Haldane. After defeating Shana-Kay Bailey to take the singles she teamed with Sabrina Cain to take the doubles over Shana-Kay and Shakeria Bailey, then with Joslyn Davis to defeat Cain and Andre Morrison in the mixed doubles. Haldane was named most outstanding female of the tournament as in addition to her triple win in the "C' division, she was the singles runner-up in the "B" division and got to two Open semi-finals. Gareth Henry, with his four titles from five events was named the outstanding male athlete. The most promising male and female awards went to Dennis Coke and Shana-Kay Bailey.

Most of the top youngsters from this tournament will now go into training for the Pan American Junior Championships due to be played in Mexico in September, while the two seniors, Mendez and Martin should leave for the Pan Am Games next Tuesday.

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