Masters badminton players from Leicestershire, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Surrey, Lancashire, Kent and Devon were celebrating Premier Division titles at the weekend as the Masters County Challenge - sponsored by Yehlex - took to courts at 5 venues nationwide.
Now Into its 24th year, the Masters County Challenge saw 129 team across 7 age groups and multiple divisions do battle on a coordinated single weekend with local rivalries and long standing county head to heads attracting much attention.
Whilst titles were won in the lower divisions on court in Andover, Bournemouth, Lilleshall and Milton Keynes, the Premier Division bragging rights were played out in Worcester and Milton Keynes.
Top spots in the Over 40, Over 45, Over 55, Over 60 Premier Divisions were on offer on the 12 courts of the Worcester Arena in Worcester with Over 45 and Over 65 titles being played out at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.
The O70 title was hotly contested at Lilleshall.
In the Over 40s Premier Division, Leicestershire emerged as worthy champions having only dropped a point during their 2 – 2 tie against Surrey which kept the southerners at bay in second place.
The only team representing Hertfordshire throughout the Premier Division won all of their matches over the weekend in the Over 45s to retain the crown in prolific style for a fourth consecutive year.
Three highly respected badminton counties battled head to head in the Over 50s Premier Division with Yorkshire fighting off stiff competition from Cheshire and Essex. Only Surrey, who finished fourth, took points off Yorkshire by holding them to a 2-2 draw.
However the O55s was a complete reversal as Surrey took top spot with 11 points only dropping one as Yorkshire, who finished second, held them to a 2-2 draw.
Lancashire held off all the competition for another year to retain the title in the O60s, again with victory over close rivals Yorkshire. In fact, it was Hampshire who were hot on their tails until an untimely defeat to Berkshire for the South Coast squad put Lancashire out of reach.
Kent proved once again to be masters powerhouses in the Over 65s where they won the Premier Division title, beating every county in their class. They only dropped 5 rubbers in total over the entire weekend.
And the Over 70s top division proved to be just as thrilling with Devon and Dorset going full tilt for the title. It seemed that Hampshire may have caused an upset when they beat Devon 2 – 1, but Devon held on an cruised to victory over their close county rivals in Dorset to take home the trophy.
The event attracts the best players from the older age groups and should certainly act as an inspiration to all competitors across the country.