Our congratulations go to Stefan Salomone who, with his win over clubmate Samuel Cali, retained the division 1 Singles title. With only one round of matches still to play other Birkirkara players are also still in the running for the title in other divisions. In division 3 Yanis Boju can still win the title having one match in hand (although two points adrift) on the division’s leader. In division 4, with one round remaining, Marica Micallef and Matthew Galea are joint leaders. In division 5 young Yanika Polidano is one point behind the leader with one match still to play (incidentally against the leader).
All four matches played in the last round of this division were all important as a number of players were still with a chance of winning the league.
In a direct encounter between two of the contenders Birkirkara’s Stephen Ferrante lost to Paola’s Kenneth Vella 21-9, 21-10, a win which enabled the latter to go top momentarily and the former to lose any chance of second-placing.
Another Paola player – Owen Grech – beat Birkirkara’s Song Chen Jun in a close match 21-18, 21-14 to win him the runner-up spot and for Song to lose his chance to finish runner-up.
Birkirkara’s Aldo Polidano returned from injury to draw his match against Paola’s Henrik Thomsen, losing the first set 21-17 but then winning the second with an identical score.
In the best match of the evening Birkirkara’s Stefan and Samuel (both with a chance for the final honours) battled it out in a balanced and entertaining match which regaled those present some nice badminton, for which both players are to be commended. In a ding-dong first set, which saw both players alternating the lead, Stefan managed to win the point with a final rally: 21-18. The second set was likewise balanced until the score read 16-16. From then on Stefan made a final effort to win five points in a row without reply, thus ensuring his claim on the title.
After this round of matches no Birkirkara player in this division has any chance of finishing in the first two places.
Fiorella Sadowski lost to Edmond Abela of Paola, the present leader, 21-18, 21-15. Likewise Albert Bezzina lost to another Paola contender for the title – Matthew Abela – 21-16, 21-17. Both scores show that, although ending on the losing side, both Birkirkara players fought hard and they were no walk-overs.
Ivan Salomone won his first set against Msida’s Kyle Sciberras 21-18 but was unlucky to injure his foot on the last point of the first set and had to award the second set as a walk-over, thus ending the match in a draw.
On the other hand Arif Rochman was the only club winner on the night when he easily defeated Shuttles player Mark Briffa 21-9, 21-6.
In the only match of this division Birkirkara’s Daniel Abdilla narrowly and unluckily lost to Msida’s Nigel Degaetano 21-18, 21-18.
Young Matthew Galea won three out of four points to go joint top with another Birkirkara player – Marica Micallef. In his first match Matthew beat clubmate Edward Grech 21-8, 21-12. The latter, on his part, was then awarded a walk-over by Paola’s Mark Abela.
But perhaps the most thrilling match of the night was that which saw Matthew meet Paola’s Sam Cassar – a real battle between two youngsters which ended fittingly in a draw. In the first set Matthew held the upper hand throughout and, although given a hard time, won 21-17. In the second set both players gave their heart out with the lead alternating until the very end which saw Cassar emerge winner 27-25. Both players are to be commended, with a bright future ahead of them.