The Grand Prix Season began thrillingly as players came to battle it out for their respective category titles in Preston.
Over 100 competitors took to the competition as winners were decided in two under-21 events, veterans, and doubles, as well as a total of 10 banded events.
It sets a high expectation for the standard of play we can expect at further Grand Prix events.

Men’s Singles

The Men’s title was won by Grigory Vlasov 3-1 (8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7) against Sining Zhang who proved a tough opponent. Both finalists stormed through to victory in their respected semi-finals which witnessed Vlasov knockout top seed Gavin Rumgay. It was a feast of technical and tactical display in the final as Vlasov gained an edge over Sining Zhang in the last three games to claim Grand Prix victory.

Women’s Singles

The women’s title was snatched by Haoyu Liu who beat Mollie Patterson in a closely fought battle. Liu proved to have the edge leading into the last two games and claiming victory 3-1 (11-5, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6).
Liu and Patterson were comfortable in their semi-finals, winning against Danielle Kelly (11-9, 11-9, 11-2), and Raquel Sao Pedro (11-7, 11-7, 11-3) respectively.

Men’s Band 1

Winner Gary Dodd (left) and runner-up Sam Wilson (right)

Gary Dodd won against Sam Wilson 3-2 (6-11, 5-11, 11-3, 12-10, 12-10) in what was a carefully fought competition that went right down to the wire in the last game with an emphatic ending to a great bout.

Women’s Band 1

Winner Mollie Patterson (left) and runner-up Elena Todirca (right)

It was not all doom and gloom for Mollie Patterson as she was victorious against Elena Todirca thanks to a 3-2 victory (13-11, 11-6, 4-11, 4-11, 11-7). Both Patterson and Todirca were effortless in their performance, demonstrating why they were top seeds and provided an entertaining and competitive end to a fantastic run for both.

Men’s Band 2

Winner Amirul Hussain (left) and runner-up Will Dobinson (right)

Amirul Hussain cruised to victory firstly winning his semi-final against Joe Walker in three (11-5, 11-2, 11-8) before another emphatic display in the final against Will Dobinson, winning again in three (12-10, 11-3, 11-7).

Women’s Band 2

Winner Danielle Kelly (left) and runner-up Raquel Sao Pedro (right)

Danielle Kelly and Raquel Sao Pedro met twice in the women’s singles band two and the women under 21s. It went all the way to five in this match as Kelly edged in front of Sao Pedro (7-11, 11-3, 12-14, 11-7, 13-11)

Men’s Band 3

Winner Joseph Goss (right) and runner-up Adam Wilson (left)

Triple six is unlucky for some, and Adam Wilson may confirm this as Joseph Goss took control of the final match. Goss demonstrated consistency throughout the rounds and topped it off with a winning performance against Adam Wilson 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-6).

Wilson had a tough test in the semi-finals against Tony Zekiri, which went all the way to five before Wilson cemented his place in the final (9-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9). Goss had a much more straightforward victory in his semi-final against Jack Stockdale, which he claimed 3-0 (12-10, 11-2, 11-7).

Women’s Band 3

Winner Jo Keighley (left) and runner-up Kirsty Maull (right)

Jo Keighley lost the first before starting her comeback to win 3-1 against a tough opponent in Kirsty Maull (8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-4).

Men’s Band 4

Winner Jacob Evans (left) and runner-up Anthony Bates (right)

Jacob Evans, player of the tournament, needed five to take victory from Anthony Bates 3-2 (9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 13-11, 11-6).

Evans finesse performance in the semi-final against Kyan Chin led him to win 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-3). Bates faced a more stringent test against Christian Schmifierger which took him 4 to win 3-1 (11-8, 11-4, 13-15, 11-8).

Women’s Band 4

Winner Stefania Popa (right) and runner-up Amillia Baker (left)

Stefania Popa women in four against Amillia Baker 3-1 (13-11, 11-8, 10-12, 9-11).

Both confirmed why they were the top seeds in the category before Popa snuck a victory over Baker ranked higher. Popa also went to five against Felicity Pickard (11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 5-11, 11-7) in what proved a tough challenge, but it did not stop her from taking the crown.

Men’s Band 5

Winner Toby Ellis (right) and runner-up Martin Lowe (left)

It took Toby Ellis four to claim victory against Martin Lowe (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10).

Martin Lowe beat two higher-ranked players on his way to the final, including a semi-final against Matt Coups winning in 3 (12-10, 11-6, 11-5). Toby Ellis comfortably achieved victory against Jacob Munro in his semi-final, winning in three 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-4).

Men’s Band 6

Winner Toby Ellis (left) and runner-up Martin Lowe (right)

Martin Lowe, unfortunately for him, could not get revenge against Toby Ellis. Ellis went on to win 3-2 (9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) in the closest of matches which led to him having to dig deep to overcome Lowe for a second time.

Under -21 Men’s Singles

Winner Israel Awolaja (left) and runner-up James Hobson (right)

Israel Awaloja took the men’s under 21s in three with a victory over James Hobson (11-7, 11-9, 15-13).

Awaloja faced a tough challenge in the semi-final against Shayan Siraj who took him to five with an emphatic finish (11-9, 3-11, 11-9, 6-11, 16-14). Hobson, on the other hand, came from behind to defeat Amirul Hussain in four (12-14, 11-2, 11-8, 11-8).

Under -21 Women’s Singles

Winner Raquel Sao Pedro (left) and runner-up Danielle Kelly (right)

Danielle Kelly and Raquel Sao Pedro met again in the women’s under -21 final. Sao Pedro claimed victory this time, winning in four (11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7).

Both were comfortable in their semi-finals. Kelly winning in three against Amillia Baker (11-6, 11-4, 14-12), and Sao Pedro winning similarly against Stefania Popa in straight games (11-8, 11-3, 11-4).

Veteran Singles

Winner Kevin Dolder (left) and runner-up Mike Browne (right)

Kevin Dolder staged a fantastic performance in his pursuit of claiming victory in the veteran singles category through a 3-0 win over Mike Browne (11-5, 11-3, 13-11).

Browne had a tough semi-final against Irishman Rory Scott which he took 3-2 (16-14, 11-4, 12-10, 12-10, 11-5). Dolder, on the other hand, comfortably beat Kyan Chan in three (11-5, 11-7, 11-2).

Open Doubles

Winners Gregory Vlasov & Radoslav Kamberov (left) and runners-up Haoyu Lui & Sining Zhang (right)

It was a second title for Grigory Vlasov who partnered Radoslav Kamberov to victory in the open doubles against Haoyu Liu & Sining Zhang in four (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8).

Liu and Zhang were tough opponents, but the undeniable form of Vlasov proved tough to beat. He mimicked the form produced in the men’s singles to achieve victory for the second time in the doubles.