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Maltese Badminton youngsters hit Bolzano with impressive results

The Maltese contingent in Bolzano. Photo: Malta Badminton Association

Badminton Malta travelled to the Bozner Fruhling 2022 – Primavera di Bolzano Tournament in Italy this weekend with nine junior players, two coaches and a bus full of supportive parents.

After a full two days of badminton, the nine players – some of whom were experiencing their first ever competitive event away from the island – competed in 10 different events, playing 56 games, a combination of 26 hours of badminton and over 3,700 points.

The youngest of the group – Matias Casaru and Jacob Busuttil – entered into the Under 11’s Boys Singles and Doubles events.

Both players lost their first games of singles, Casaru in straight sets while Busuttil lost over three sets. Both boys bounced back in their second games to win in two straight games with Busuttil securing second place in his group to progress into the quarter finals while Casaru had a deciding match left in his which gain he won 21-18, 21-17 to also take second in the group, joining Jacob in the quarter finals. Busuttil couldn’t progress any further through the knockout stages after losing out 16-21, 15-21, while in the other half of the draw, Casaru moved into the semi-finals with a straight sets win over Noel Sallu. Casaru fought hard in the semi-final unfortunately losing out in 3 sets 18-21, 21-19, 13-21. The boys then paired up in the Boys Doubles event where they started by winning a 3-set match 21-17, 17-21, 21-6 before storming through in the semi-finals winning to 3 and 2. In the final, the boys never gave up as they took the game to a deciding end and narrowly missing out on first place 13-21, 21-18, 21-23.

Badminton Malta had three entries in the Under 13’s age group. Rosaleen Thenner Caruana was the only player to play in the Mixed Doubles event where she was pairing up with Italian Patrick Horrer in the B category. This was Thenner Caruana’s first tournament experience and what a start it was, winning the first round of the knockout draw 21-19, 21-18 which was then followed up by a 21-9, 21-7 win in the semi-finals where the pair continued their fine form to take the title with a 21-8, 21-17 win in the final.

In the Girls Singles B category Thenner Caruana was joined by twins Suzie and Jodie Gafa Craus. Each one of them saw themselves in once each of the three groups. Jodie Gafa Craus started in group A with a straight sets win followed by a tough three-set loss to finish second in the group and progress into the quarter finals. Suzie Gafa Craus was put into group B where she didn’t stay for long, winning her matches to top her group only giving away eight points in four sets. Lastly Thenner Caruana also topped her group with straight set wins 22-20, 21-16 and 21-5, 21-8. The quarter finals saw Jodie Gafa Craus and Thenner Caruana drawn against each other to fight for a place in the semi-finals to meet the other Malta player Suzie Gafa Craus. It was Jodie Gafa Craus who came out on top 21-19, 21-9 to set up a match against her twin in the semi-finals, and what a match it was both players giving it their all in an extremely close fought match. Suzie Gafa Craus came out on top winning 23-21, 23-21 and earning a place in the finals. Unfortunately, this was one step too much for Suzie Gafa Craus eventually just missing out and taking the Runners Up spot 18-21, 19-21.

Last up was the Girls Doubles with just 4 pairs already at the semi-final stage. In top half Jodie Gafa Craus and Suzie Gafa Craus made light work of their match winning both games 21-3 while Thenner Caruana and scratch partner Emma lost out 16-21, 14-21. The U13 girls doubles final was to be the last match of the Maltese players over the weekend and what a way to finish a great tournament by winning 21-11, 21-11 and bring home the title.

Under-15s

The U15’s event saw some of our more experience players compete with a few previous tournaments under their belt they were well prepared for what the weekend would entail. The U15’s started with the Mixed Doubles in a straight 32 draw knockout, Jeremy Gatt, and Martina Clark where the first Maltese competitors of the weekend and started with a walkover win before having to overcome tough opposition in round two, they held their nerve and played well together to win 21-10, 16-21, 21-17. Emily Abela was paired up with Croatian Jakov Perse who came through an easier second round match 21-5, 21-3 while Juan Casaru was in the other half of the draw with Italian partner Pia Kopania who also progressed through 21-12, 21-13. Into the quarter finals Casaru and Kopania lost out to a Japanese & Italian partnership 8-21, 15-21 while in the bottom half of the draw Gatt and Clark were drawn again fellow Maltese player Abela & Jakov. It was the well-gelled pairing of Gatt & Clark who progressed through to the semi-finals by a 21-13, 21-10 score line. Here they met an Austrian pairing of Zhang and Zhan who they also defeated in a straight set 21-12, 21-11 win and secure a place in the final. The Maltese pairing started well winning 21-12 in the first before their opposition fought back in the second 21-17, also taking the third 21-12 with Gatt and Clark taking second place.

The Under 15’s Boys singles saw six groups in total. Both Gatt and Casaru made light work of their groups by both finishing top with wins over their opponents kept to single figures and both saw themselves into the quarter finals, Casaru lost out here to De Stefani 12-21, 8-21 while Gatt worked hard to move into the semi-finals in a three-set match over Slovenian player Roko Trampuz. Gatt couldn’t continue this run of form eventually losing out in the semi-finals 21-14, 21-6.

Abela & Clark followed in the boys footsteps with fine form in their group stages both winning all 3 matches and securing top spot and a quarter final place in the knockouts. Abela was defeated here by eventual runner up Julia Kostner 21-19, 21-11 where in the other half of the draw, Clark had made her way past Croatian Karapandza 21-10, 21-13 before losing out on a place in the final to the event winner Lena Kobler 15-21, 14-21 in the semi-finals.

The last events for the Under 15’s categories saw the Maltese juniors pair up in their respective boys and girl’s events. Casaru & Gatt had a bye into the quarter finals where they convincingly beat their Italian opponents 21-2, 21-3. It was in the semi-finals where the competition became harder against the Slovenian Trampuz brothers, falling behind 13-21 in the first set, before showing a great fight back to take the second 21-8 but unfortunately not being able to continue their form in the deciding end and falling behind 21-13. Abela and Clark also started their doubles campaign strongly in the quarter finals winning 21-5, 21-4 to move into the semi-finals, here they met an Italian and Croatian pairing whom they were also able to dispatch in straight sets 21-4, 21-14 and secure a place in the finals. In the final, they faced another Italian pairing of Fornaciari and Kostner this time a stronger pair, after a closely fought first set the girls eventually lost 23-25, they showed the same level of fight and resilience in the second set but still couldn’t quite get the advantage falling to a 18-21 loss and gaining a second place finish.

RESULTS

Winners
U13 Mixed B – Rosaleen Thenner Caruana
U13 Girls Doubles B – Jodie & Suzie Gafa Craus

Runners Up
U11 Boys Doubles – Jacob Busuttil & Matias Casaru

U13  Girls Singles B – Suzie Gafa Craus

U15 Girls Doubles – Martina Clark & Emily Abela
U15 Mixed Doubles – Jeremy Gatt & Martina Clark

Semi-Finalists
U11 Boys Singles – Matias Casaru
U13 Girls Singles B – Jodie Gafa Craus
U13 Girls Doubles B – Rosaleen Thenner Caruana

U15 Boys Singles – Jeremy Gatt

U15 Girls Singles – Martina Clark

U15 Boys Doubles – Juan Casaru & Jeremy Gatt

Quarter-Finalists
U11 Boys Singles – Jacob Busuttil
U13 Girls Singles B – Rosaleen Thenner Caruana

U15 Boys Singles – Juan Casaru
U15 Girls Singles – Emily Abela
U15 Mixed Doubles – Juan Casaru

U15 Mixed Doubles – Emily Abela

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