THE SWAT Badminton Club dominated the four-day SWAT/Digicel Business Badminton Classic which ended last Monday night at Kingston's YMCA, winning five of the 18 divisional titles that were up for contention.
The newest badminton club on the island with top national players Bradley Graham and Alia Lewis in their ranks, swept all before them to take the Open men's and women's singles, the B Division men's doubles and mixed doubles, as well as the men's doubles in the D Division. Such was their dominance they contested nine finals and were represented in all semi-finals in every division of the classic, which had eight clubs participating. There were a few entrants who were not attached to any club.
Curtailing the SWAT dominance were Manchester Rangers, who won three of nine finals and the YMCA Club, which dictated terms in Division C by taking four of the five titles in that category.
Though there wasn't an award for MVP, the star of the event was Kenneth Anglin, who was the only triple crown winner, as he claimed the D Division men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles.
The Reid Club player came out on top from a full field of 32 entrants by beating Shakeil Palmer in the final 23-21, 13-21, 21-11. He then joined forces with SWAT's Johnpaul Smith to overcome the SWAT pair of Matthew Lee and Ian Chen 21-17, 18-21, 21-18 and then later with Ardenne's Dora Lai in mixed doubles action to win 21-8, 21-16 at the expense of Shannan Morgan and Jordan Hydol-Smith of Mandeville Rangers.
Three players were double winners. Christina Petri, who is unattached, won the Division D women's singles and ladies doubles; Kemar Valentine of YMCA lost only two sets en route to winning the C Division men's singles and doubles; while Valentine's clubmate Sue-Ann Berry battled her way to take the ladies singles and doubles titles in Division C.
In the Open Division, Graham, who is on the comeback trail, showed his class in recovering from dropping the first set in his quarter-final game against Vijay Myles before triumphing 18-21, 21-13, 21-12. That would be the only set that the top seed lost as he powered to the men's open title, whipping teammate Che Beckford 21-13, 21-11 in the final.
Only five entered for the ladies open singles won by Lewis, who overcame a fighting Mikaylia Haldane of Mandeville 21-18, 18-21, 21-15.
Graham and Lewis, favourites to take the mixed doubles open, were stopped in their tracks by Haldane and Gerald Isaacs, who defeated them 17-21, 22-20, 23-21 in a pulsating final.
It was the first in many moons that Graham failed to win more than a single title in a local tournament, as he and Albert Myles were sent packing at the semi-final stage of the men's doubles open won by Dennis Coke and Anthony McNee, who had the better of Garron Palmer and Kashif Bernard 21-15, 16-21, 22-20.
In Division B men's singles open, Mandeville's Sean Wilson came out on top of a competitive field to beat unattached finalist Jonathan Smith 21-14, 21-17.
It was an all SWAT affair, however, in the men's doubles final of the division, won by Christopher Beecher and Michael Evans Jnr, who got by Joslyn Davis and Kareem Chin 21-18, 21-13.
Katherine Wynter, who isn't registered to any club, recorded an easy straight set victory over Simone James of SWAT in the singles action of the division, winning 21-13, 21-12, while Davis exacted some sort of revenge when he won the mixed doubles title of the said division with Ruth Williams, beating Evan Jnr and James in the final 17-21, 21-16, 21-16.
For their efforts, singles champions will receive a Blackberry Bold 3, with runners-up each collecting a Nokia C3, all courtesy of title sponsor Digicel. NCB trophies will go to doubles winners, while mixed doubles champions will each receive a trophy sponsored by Jamaica Broilers.
Meantime, chief organiser and vice-president of SWAT Neil Lewis said he was pleased with the outcome of the tournament.
"It was a very hectic tournament," he told the Observer via telephone last Thursday. "Players suffered from exhaustion and cramps. But it proved to me what I have been saying all along that many of our players aren't fit enough to play at the international level."
He added: "Playing a tournament over four consecutive days is the norm at the international level, so we need to start doing the same thing here instead of playing a four-day tournament over two weekends. If players are serious about the sport then they must start thinking seriously about their physical condition to be competitive in SWAT tournaments."
He disclosed that SWAT will be commencing its attractive Super Series Classic in April 2012, which will see the club hosting a series in each month through to March 2013 with top players expecting to earn up to $250,000 during the 12-month period.