HOME club starlets Erin Vitty and Lucy Anderson, and Tynemouth tyro Dan Neill led the way to glory at a hot, and hotly-contested Dunlop Northern Junior Open in February.
Vitty hit top form in winning the Girls Under 15 title, with club mate Anderson matching that feat at Under 13 level, and Neill taking the Boys Under 11 trophy.
So close to top spot for Northumbria were losing boys finalists Northern’s Ali Little (BU11), Tynemouth duo Lewis Follin (BU13) and Jamie Todd (BU17) and Northern’s Cai Younger (BU19), who relinquished his trophy after an epic 3-2 tussle.
The county’s rising female starlets also picked up runner-up trophies at U13’s (Northern’s Aanya Hamilton), Under 15 (Catriona Watling) and Under 17 (Tynemouth’s Laura Neill).
A bumper entry of 116 turned Northern into a packed cauldron of sweat and tears (but thankfully no blood) with all four courts in use throughout the weekend. Galatasaray eat your heart out.
Sponsored by Dunlop and QS Lawson & Thompson Solicitors, and organised by Richard Vitty (with valuable help from Dave North and Jack Cornell) the competition was raw and fierce, attracting top young players from across the North of England.
Erin Vitty won the Girls U15 title with three 3-0 wins – over Megan Freeman (11-3, 11-2, 11-7) and Jess Wight (all 11-5) then a hard-fought final victory over Catriona Watling (11-5, 11-6, 13-11).
Hamilton had reached the showpiece game without dropping a game in beating Lois Cherry (11-4, 11-8, 11-5) and Sophie Freeman (11-3, 11-4, 11-4).
Lois Cherry won the plate with a 3-0 win over Jess Wight (11-2, 11-8, 11-7).
Northern’s fast-improving Lucy Anderson also won three matches without dropping a game on her way to the Girls U13 title – rounding off with an all-home class over Aanya Hamilton which went to Anderson 11-7, 16-14, 11-5.
No 2 seed Hamilton had reached the final withs wins over Kasy Wilson (3-0) and Kaitlyn Carruthers (3-1).
There was no shortage of Northumbria talent in the Boys U11s, where all-action hero Dan Neill proved too strong for the field – he beat Bertie Lamb (3-0), Tynemouth club mate Tom Walsh (3-1), Abdallah Eissa (3-0) and Northern’s Ali Little (3-1) in a pulsating final.
Jesmond’s Ollie Forster finished 4th, Northern’s Milan Stach 5th and Walsh 8th in a large and competitive field.
Dan’s big sis Laura played some superb squash over the weekend in an ultra-competittive Girls U17s event, yet was still edged out for top spot by Cumbria’s volley expert Eve Driver in an excellent final.
The ever consistent Geogia Webster (Jesmond) was edged out to 3rd, with Josie Barker and Tegan Younger (both Northern) 4th and 5th respectively.
The county also took all the remaining spots with Emma Rowell of Primrose 6th, Ellie Watling (Northern) 7th), Tynemouth’s Daisy Dobson 8th and Amy Rowell (Primrose) 9th.
Well done to Northern’s Katy Barker and Naomi Appleby who finished 5th and 6th respectively in a competitive Girls Under 11 event.
At the other extreme, No 1 seed Cai Younger was edged out 3-2 against an inspired Rob Pearce in the Boys Under 19 final.
Younger looked like he was running on empty at 2-0 down (12-10, 11-3) against the No 2 seed from Durham, whose retrieval was superb. But the home favourite edged a titanic third game (11-9) and won the fourth more easily (11-6) before Pearce finished strongly to lift the title with an 11-6 triumph in the fifth.
Well done also to Alex Robertson of Northern, who played so well to finish in third spot with a 3-1 win over Dan Wareing – and to Wareing himself, who twice came within a point of reaching the final before being edged out 14-12 in the fifth game of a mammoth semi-final by Younger the night before.
The fast-improving Jack Cornell of Northern took the Plate, with victory over club mate James Dark.
Tynemouth’s Lewis Follin was edged out in the final of the Boys Under 13s – but he had played so well to get there, with wins over Cesur Tiryaki (11-2), 11-3), 11-2), club mate Nathan Dobson (a five-setter this, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9), and Northern’s Andrew Shipley (11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6), who finished fourth.
Northern’s Harry Little won a super 5th/6th place play-off 3-2 over Dobson (11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-7).
AT Under 15s, Jesmond’s Joe Wareing was the top Northumbrian, finishing third with a 3-0 play-off win over Tynemouth’s Matthew Carr (11-5, 11-7, 12-10).
Jesmond’s Max Forster finished 6th and Tynemouth’s Matthew Walsh won the Plate with a 3-0 win over Sam Gibbon.
The Boys Under 17s was a predictably pulsating affair, and again the No 1 seed and home favourite was edged out – this time, Jamie Todd going down in four ultra-close games to Cumbria’s Dan Harrison.
Todd showed his legendary competitive instincts with a hard-fought 13-11 win in the first, but Harrison was in inspired form, and bounced back to take the next three games, and the trophy (11-9, 11-8, 11-8).
Northern’s Dan North finished 6th, Tynemouth’s Ben Waugh 7th and Cameron Hamilton (Northern) 8th.
Jesmond’s Angus Forster won a superb five-setter Plate final 3-2 against Northern’s Tom Wight. This one went right to the wire before Forster triumphed – 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 3-11, 14-12.
BU11: 1) Dan Neill (Tynemouth); 2) Ali Little (Northern); 3) Abdallah Eissa; 4) Ollie Forster (Jesmond); 5) Milan Stach (Northern); 6) Sion Gittins (Northern); 7) Grisha MicDonald; 8) Tom Walsh (Tynemouth)
PLATE: 1) Harry Morris (Jesmond); 2) Callum Howie (Jesmond)
BU13: 1) Adam Goad; 2) Lewis Follin (Tynemouth); 3) Matthew Harrison; 4) Andrew Shipley (Northern); 5) Harry Little (Northern); 6) Nathan Dobson (Tynemouth); 7) William Gibbon; 8) Matthew Thompson (Northern)
PLATE: 1) Tim Charteris (Jesmond); 2) Max McDonald
BU15: 1) David Collins; 2) Keane Appleton; 3) Joe Wareing (Jesmond); 4) Matthew Carr (Tynemouth); 5) James Wilkinson; 6) Max Forster (Jesmond); 7) Jonathan Wright; 8) Ross Singleton
PLATE: 1) Matthew Walsh (Tynemouth); 2) Sam Gibbon
BU17: 1) Dan Harrison; 2) Jamie Todd (Tynemouth); 3) Michael Andrews; 4) Jackson Holliday; 5) Ben Merchant; 6) Dan North (Northern); 7) Ben Waugh (Jesmond); 8) Cameron Hamilton (Northern)
PLATE: 1) Angus Forster (Jesmond); 2) Tom Wight (Northern)
BU19: 1) Rob Pearce; 2) Cai Younger (Northern); 3) Alex Robertson (Northern); 4) Dan Wareing (Jesmond); 5) Adam Bainbridge (Jesmond); 6) Joe Dale; 7) Ben Hetherington
PLATE: 1) Jack Cornell (Northern); 2) James Dark (Northern)
GU11: 1) Milly O’Toole; 2) Rebecca Smith; 3) Beth Dean (Jesmond); 4) Ashton Telford; 5) Katie Barker (Northern); 6) Naomi Appleby (Northern); 7) Jess Arnott (Jesmond); 8) Eve Hardie (Clegwell)
PLATE: 1) Willow Morris (Jesmond); 2) Zoe Shipsey (Northern)
GU13: 1) Lucy Anderson (Northern); 2) Aanya Hamilton (Northern); 3) Kaitlyn Carruthers; 4) Megan Evans (Northern); 5) Katie Merlane (Northern); 6) Beth Tudor (Northern); 7) Kaisie Wilson (Clegwell); 8) Emma Delgaty (Northern)
PLATE: 1) Olivia Steanson; 2) Sophie Bedford
GU15: 1) Erin Vitty (Northern); 2) Catriona Watling (Northern)
PLATE: 1) Lois Cherry (Northern); 2) Jess Wight (Northern)
GU17: 1) Eve Driver; 2) Laura Neill (Tynemouth); 3) Georgia Webster (Jesmond); 4) Josie Barker (Northern); 5) Tegan Younger (Northern); 6) Emma Rowell (Primrose); 7) Ellie Watling (Northern); 8) Daisy Dobson (Tynemouth); 9) Amy Rowell (Primrose)
Girls U15 winner Erin Vitty