The 2nd of September saw a small contingent of the Maltese National Academy travel to Greece to play in the Hellas International, a Future Series in the European Badminton Circuit. Among them was Tokyo 2020 Star, Matthew Abela. His first match was against 5th seed Jan Louda from Czech Republic. “The game started slow with both of us making easy mistakes but after a few rallies we both got into the rhythm. Jan proved strong and was making it very difficult to get the shuttle on the floor.” After a difficult battle Matthew eventually went on to lose in straight sets 10-21, 15-21, but stated he was still happy with his performance. Another bright prospect from the Abela family, Mark began his singles journey in the qualification rounds against Marian Liptak from Slovakia. “I started off quite well and won the first set 21-17. In the second set I was feeling rather tired and was making numerous mistakes and lost the second set 13-21. In the third set I got off to a good start and felt more confident and my opponent was very tired as well and I managed to win the third set 21-16.” A tough second round opponent, Shahyar Shaqeem from Malaysia proved too strong for Mark who lost out 6-21, 7-21. Teaming up with his partner Sam Cassar in the Men’s Doubles, Mark and Sam were the 2nd Seeds in the Qualification rounds. After a first round bye, they faced the French pairing of Kimi Lovang and Aymeric Tores. After a slow start to the first set losing 11-21, the pace picked up but unfortunately wasn’t enough to go to a deciding set, losing the second 16-21. In the Men’s Singles, Sam Cassar was the 8th seed for the qualification rounds. His first match saw him play against Stephen Jong from England, losing 15-21 in the first set, the battle intensified but unfortunately saw a narrow loss losing the second game 19-21 to bow out.
An exciting first international tournament for Ann Marie Bezzina and Elenia Haber saw them team up in the Women’s Doubles to face 2020 European Junior Championship Bronze Medallist Flavie Vallet and her partner Emilie Vercelot from France. There was no holding back from the French pair who won the match 7-21, 10-21. Happy to play her first International tournament Ann Marie said “even though we lost I believe some rallies were challenging and we showed our potential, our weakness was communication and choice of shots.” Both Ladies also took part in the Women’s Singles Qualification rounds. With Ann Marie suffering a first round loss against Dounia Pelupessy from Switzerland 4-21, 2-21. Elenia went straight into the main draw after two byes in the qualification rounds.”I had several good rallies in my singles match, but I believe I could have been more focused and also could have avoided some mistakes. During the match I was a little slow and could have made better shot decisions. I lost the match in two straight sets with the scores being 4-21 6-21.” Congratulations to all who took part and Badminton Malta looks forward to seeing future international tournament results.