Home nations and Sweden in competition

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THE Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields is the venue this weekend for a major junior badminton competition.

The Northumberland Under-19 Open Tournament, which has many present and past senior international players as past winners, has attracted around 70 top players from England, Scotland and Sweden.

Play begins on Friday at around 10am, with four teams representing England, Scotland, and two from Sweden.

Badminton academies from Malmo and Taby will do battle the England and Scotland to see who can win the International Team Event trophy.

Play should last until around 4.30pm with a lunch break around noon.

Scotland will be out to repeat their victory of last year.

The tournament itself will start at 9.30am on Saturday, November 3, with the boys’ singles, which has a good entry.

This will be followed by the girls’ singles, boys and girls’ doubles and mixed doubles, with play continuing until the early evening.

Semi-finals and finals will start at 9.30am on Sunday morning, with the finals expected to start around noon and finishing by about 3pm.

Councillor Frank Lott, chair of North Tyneside Council, and Coun George Westwater, will be presenting the trophies to the winners.

Local interest centres on Finn Connor-Watson from Durham, and Ira Banerjee, who until last September lived in Newcastle and represented Northumberland. Ira and her girls doubles partner Jessica Pugh from Shropshire, are one of the top girls doubles pairs in Europe for their age group, and despite being only 15 and playing against older opposition, should perform very well at The Parks and have a good chance of winning.

Spectators (no charge) are welcome on all three days. This is a rare opportunity to see some of the badminton stars of the future playing in North Shields.