Southland junior badminton teams had their most successful year in a decade at the South Island junior championships in Christchurch during the school holidays.
Last years dominant Southland under-15 team carried on their winning way with those players now in the under-17 grade and taking out the title with a clean sweep over Otago, Canterbury and Nelson.
The win booked Southland a trip to the nationals in Auckland later this year.
Both the under-19 and under-15 Southland teams finished second in the South Island.
In the under-19 section, there was a tie for first place after the round robin and it went to a count back on games. The eventual winner in a mathematical finish saw Otago edge Southland by the narrowest margin.
The individual events followed and Southland juniors claimed their biggest haul of trophies for some time.
Verdon College's Clarke LeBreton who spearheaded the Southland under-17 side, won the boys singles title, keeping it in the family after his elder brother Ryan won it last year in Invercargill.
The under-17's saw Southland's Caleb Young winning the boys doubles and the mixed doubles with Ella Smith. Smith was close to winning the under-15 girls singles, but went down fighting to visiting Aucklander Jessica Li 21-19 in the 3rd set.
The under-13 section saw a clean sweep from young Claudia Smith who won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles, teaming up with fellow Southlander's Brea Scully and Jamie Connell respectively.
Coaches Peter McMillan and Brent Busby were encouraged by the showing given Southland not only are starting to dominate the South Island but the plate finals were full of Southland players too.
It highlighted the developing depth of Southland badminton.
Later this year the Southland juniors will need to step up their performance when they attend the nationals, with Southland hosting the under-13 and under-15 events, while the remaining age-groups will head to Auckland and Canterbury.
- The Southland Times