Wellesbourne teen targets home nations success in national tournament

Nic Strange and Robin Harper at the Sports and Wellness Hub.

A WELLESBOURNE teenager will represent his country this weekend when a major badminton tournament arrives in the region.

The new Sports & Wellness Hub, at the University of Warwick, will host the Under-15s Home Nations Quadrangular this year, and promising player Robin Harper has been picked to face off against some of the best youngsters in the UK.

The 13-year-old will take on top players from Scotland, Wales and Ireland at the Quad Tournament, held at the new indoor Sports Arena.

Harper is no stranger to top-level competition, having won the mixed event in the Irish Open and represented England in the 8 Nations in the Netherlands earlier this year.

The event, which is taking place in Warwickshire for the first time, is being run in partnership with Badminton England and will get under way today, Friday, with the final round of matches taking place on Sunday and is open to the local community to attend and watch the action for free.

Harper, who goes to Alcester Grammar school, has lived in Warwickshire all his life and started playing badminton around age seven.

He said: “I’ve been playing badminton for about six years now.

“There’s no other game that’s as quick and as exciting when you’re moving around the court.”

The Quad Tournament is one of the largest junior badminton events in the UK, bringing together top players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Each nation has selected a team of six male and six female players with best-of-three matches taking place in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions at the University of Warwick’s Sports and Wellness Hub.

Harper said: “I’m a bit nervous because it’s in Warwickshire, but lots of my family will be coming to support me so hopefully I can play my best for them.

“I really like the facilities here. It’s got a great floor, and I’m sure it will be even better when all the chairs are pulled out. It will be a great atmosphere with all the seating.”

“Any England fixture is a big one for me. We want to prove to the rest of the British Isles that we are the best.

“Different countries all have different playing styles, I really like playing against all these other players.”

Harper, who has played for Warwickshire at under-16 level, has already collected medals at both domestic and national tournaments this year, and had some words of encouragement for those making their first steps into the sport.

He said: “All over the country there are people playing badminton. If you’re trying to get into it just give it a go.

“If you’re having fun with your friends you’re going to be winning anyway.”

Nic Strange, head badminton coach at Warwick Sport, said: “Robin is leading the way for young sportspeople in the region and I have no doubt he will do Warwickshire proud at the Quad Tournament this weekend.

“For the new Sports and Wellness Hub to be hosting a tournament of this size as one of its first official competitions is a fantastic achievement. The event is free for the local community to attend and get caught up in the excitement too, so we hope it will be an inspiring event for all.

“We’ll have some high quality young players joining us this weekend, as well as Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson as part of the Badminton England coaching team, as we look to establish ourselves as a prime location for the development of sporting talent.”