Saturday, February 28, 2009

Adcock and Blair fall in the semi-finals in Mulheim

Second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair fell in the semi-final of the men's doubles at the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The England pair went down 28-26 21-16 against Koreans Lee Yong Dae and Shin Baek Cheol. It was Lee who had beaten Adcock in the mixed doubles quarter-finals the night before.

Adcock and Blair led 19-16 in the opening game before the Koreans caught up. In total the England pair had six game points before the Koreans took the game on their fifth.

In the second game Adcock and Blair saved three match points before Lee and Shin won it on their fourth to end a 40-minute duel.

But Adcock and Blair will have given themselves a timely boost by their efforts this week as they head home for the Yonex All England Championships, starting on Tuesday in Birmingham.


Chris Adcock and Robert Blair are through to the semi-finals of the men's doubles at the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The second seeds beat Kwon Yo Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong 21-16 11-21 21-19 in a gripping quarter-final. In the semi-final they will meet another Korean pair in Lee Yong Dae and Shin Baek Cheol.

But Adcock's bid for a second semi-final place ended in disappointment as he and Gabby White, the sixth seeds, went down bravely against Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, the Olympic mixed doubles champions.

The England pair were edged out 23-21 21-15 but Adcock will bid for revenge when he meets Yong Dae again in the men's doubles.

In the men's singles Andrew Smith took China's top seed Bao Chunlai to three games before losing 21-11 14-21 21-7. And three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann also went down to a top seed in the women's singles when she lost 21-8 21-17 to China's Zhu Lin.

The England performances in Mulheim will leave Ian Wright's players in good heart for next week's Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham, starting on Tuesday.

But first Adcock and Blair have unfinished business on Semifinal Saturday.


Andrew Smith is through to Friday's quarter-finals of the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The fifth seed scored two wins on day two, beating Anand Pawar 14-21 21-4 21-8 in the second round and then toppling another Indian in ninth seed Arvin Bhat, coming from behind to win a tight match 16-21 21-11 21-19. That earned him a clash with China's top seed Bao Chunlai.

But English National champion Rajiv Ouseph's hopes of joining him were dashed when, after beating Malaysian Chun Seang Tan 21-18 17-21 21-15, he went down to Chinese qualifier Chen Long 21-12 21-14.

In the women's singles Elizabeth Cann faces the same sort of task as Smith after reaching the last eight. She beat Japan's Megumi Taruno 22-20 21-14 in the second round and now faces Chinese top seed Zhu Lin.

Sixth seeds Chris Adcock and Gabby White also went through to the quarter-finals with a 21-18 21-17 win over Canadians William Milroy and Fiona McKee and they now face Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung of Korea.

But there was disappointment for Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis in the mixed doubles when the top seeds went down 21-10 21-17 to Malaysian Halim Haryanto Ho and Indonesian Flandy Limpele.

But second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair are through to a quarter-final clash with Malaysians Mak Hee Chun and Tan Wee Kiong after their 21-17 21-19 win over Koreans Kwon Yi Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong.

blair and adcockIn the women's doubles defending Yonex All England champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won knocked out the Anglo-Scottish pair of Mariana Agathangelou and Jillie Cooper 21-11 21-10.


Rajiv Ouseph knocked out eighth seed Dicky Palyama of Holland to reach the second round of the Yonex German Open.

The English National champion won 21-12 21-18 to earn a second-round clash with malaysian Tan Chun Seang.

Fifth seed Andrew Smith also went thorugh to the last 32 but he was made to battle by Canadian David Snider before winning 23-25 21-19 21-16. He now meets India's Anand Pawar.

Elizabeth Cann is also through to the second round after winning her opening women's singles clash with Denmark's Nanna Brosolat Jensen 21-14 21-18. She now meets Megumi Taruno of Japan. Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes went down in three games to Holland's judith Meulendijks, losing 17-21 21-13 21-19.

Top men's doubles seeds Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis had to work hard to win their opener against Poland's Adam Cwalina and Wojciech Szkudlarkczyk. Their 21-12 21-23 21-14 win earned them a second round clash with Flandy Limpele of Indonesia and Halim Haryanto Ho of Indonesia.

Second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair had a comfortable 21-9 21-13 win over Baptiste Careme and Ronan Labar of France. But Chris Langridge and David Lindley went down 21-11 18-21 21-12 against Korea's Kwon Yi Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong.

Yonex All England champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won of Korea were too strong for England's Sarah Bok and Gabrielle White. Their 21-6 21-9 win netted them a second-round clash with Mariana Agathangelou and Jillie Cooper after the Anglo-Scottish pair beat Samantha Barning and Eefje Muskens 21-17 21-17.

Sixth seeds Chris Adcock and Gabby White had a mixed doubles walkover to move within one win of a likely clash with Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung in the quarter-finals.

But England's three other hopes fell in the first round. Third seeds David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan missed a match point in losing 22-20 in the third game against Flandy Limpele and Anastasia Russkikh.

And Cooper and Agathangelou went out in straight games with partners Chris Langridge and Robin Middleton respecitvely against Korean pairs.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tracey calls time on her glittering career

TRACEY HALLAM today brought down the curtain on a glittering badminton career - just days before the start of the Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham.

The 33-year-old left-hander from Burton-on-Trent bows out with a string of successes to her name.

Topping the list is the Commonwealth Games gold medal she won in Melbourne in 2006 to make up for her disappointment in Manchester 2002 when she had to settle for the silver.

But she also won two English Nationals singles titles and one women’s doubles crown as well as titles on the international circuit to go with her 81 England appearances.

On the international circuit she won titles in France, Vietnam, Romania and Israel as recently as 2007 and Taipei in 2005. But perhaps her best performance at Open tournaments was in finishing runner-up at the 2006 Malaysian Open.

In 10 years at the top she climbed to No 7 in the world and reached the last eight in three consecutive world championships - 2005 in Anaheim, 2006 in Madrid and, after being sidelined for six months with a career-threatening ankle injury, the 2007 championships in Kuala Lumpur.

Tracey’s comeback was complete when she qualified for Great Britain's Olympic squad in Beijing and her second Olympics, having reached the quarter-finals in Athens in 2004 when she beat Denmark's former world champion Camilla Martin for the first time in the second round. In Beijing she reached the third round before bowing out.

She also helped England win the bronze medal at the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in Glasgow in 2007.

England head coach Ian Wright said: "We are sorry to lose Tracey. She has led the way in women's singles for the last eight years. She has been a credit to the sport, particularly with the way she fought back from her 2006 injury. She will be a hard player to replace but it has been a pleasure working with her.”

Tracey said: "Since the Olympics in Beijing I have had chance to take stock and I think now is the right time to stop. I have a lot of happy memories, particularly winning my first English National title by finally beating my great rival Julia Mann and then winning the Commonwealth gold medal. That made up for the disappointment of losing in 2002 against a player I had beaten in the team event.

“Having won a women’s doubles title at the 2008 English National Championships without any preparation, I would have like to have carried on playing doubles but it wasn’t to be.”

Tracey, who will be watching many of her former team-mates at next week’s Yonex All England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, said: “It’s a great tournament – it attracts the world’s best – and brings back many happy memories. But there are other tournaments which are also special. I have fond memories of my success in Taiwan and Vietnam and of reaching the Malaysian Open final.”

Emms to lead Masterclass on Sky Sports

Olympic medallist Gail Emms will lead a badminton masterclass to mark her new role as an athlete mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport. The masterclass for young people from Idsall School, Shropshire will take place at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Monday 2 March, ahead of the All England Open from 3 to 8 March, which will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Sky Sports Living for Sport is a programme for secondary schools in the UK that uses sport to motivate and inspire young people who are at risk of opting out of school life. The free scheme for 11 to 16 year olds was created by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Sky.

The badminton masterclasss, led by Gail Emms alongside National Head Coach Ian Wright, will take eight young people from Idsall School in Shropshire through badminton basics before putting them into singles and doubles matches. The young people will be encouraged to learn new skills from the athletes and discover the enjoyment that can be gained from taking part in sport.

Gail joins a team of athlete mentors led by Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, who provide help and advice to youngsters involved with the programme. The other mentors include:

• Nicola Minichiello, Bobsleigh, World Championship medallist and Olympian
• Helene Raynsford, Rowing, Paralympic medallist
• Joe Glanfield, Sailing, Olympic medallist
• Craig Heap, Gymnastics, Olympian and commonwealth medallist
• Tom Davis, Judo; 2012 hopeful
• Rachael Mackenzie, World Nr.1 Thai Boxer
• Tim Prendergast, Athletics (Middle distance), Paralympics medallist
• Michelle Robinson, Athletics (Triple Jump), Olympian
• Kerry Jane Williams, England Hockey, 2012 Hopeful
• Adam Whitehead, Swimming, Olympian and commonwealth medallist

Sky Sports Living for Sport is supported by the department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and encourages pupils to learn new sports and get involved in different activities connected with sport such as organising and running sports related events to develop new skills and confidence. Teachers use the scheme to help pupils work towards measurable self-development goals that help build interpersonal and leadership skills.

17,000 young people in over 600 schools have benefitted since the programme began in 2003 and over 200 schools have already signed up this year. The ambition of the project is for 2,000 schools and 30,000 young people to register with Sky Sports Living for Sport by 2012 and to build the activities into curricular and extra curricular activities.

Gail Emms, Sky Sports Living for Sport athlete mentor commented: “I am really looking forward to visiting schools and mentoring young people involved with the Sky Sports Living for Sport scheme. I was helped by a variety of people throughout my career and fully appreciate how positive an effect mentoring and sport can have on young people. The badminton masterclass should be a great introduction to the initiative for me.”

An independent study on the impact of Sky Sports Living for Sport carried out by The Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University provides some very encouraging figures: 68.7% of teachers reported the project had a positive impact on reducing bullying in their schools and 80% of pupils sustained positive impact at 12 and 24 months after the end of the project.*

Sky Sports has scheduled more than 20 hours of coverage of the All England Open including 15 hours of live coverage across the three days of competitive matches. Live coverage is as follows:

Friday 6 March Day One 5.30pm – 10.30pm Sky Sports 3
Saturday 7 March Day Two 12.30pm – 5.30pm Sky Sports Xtra
Sunday 8 March Day Three 12.30pm – 5.30pm Sky Sports Xtra

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

England players in final warm-up for Birmingham

WHILE Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark start the countdown to their mixed doubles first-round showdown at next week's Yonex All England Championships, England's singles players head for Mulheim and last-minute tournament practice by tackling the Yonex German Open.

Two-time English National champion Rajiv Ouseph and this year's runner-up Carl Baxter are both in tomorrow's men's singles first round along with fifth seed Andrew Smith while Jamie Bonsels and Harry Wright tackle tomorrow's qualifying rounds.

Smith starts his bid against Canadian David Snider with Anand Pawar of India or Malaysian Daren Liew the second-round opponent.

Ouseph has a tough opener against eighth seed Dicky Palyama of Holland while Baxter meets a qualifier in a 64-man first round.

In the women's singles Sarah Walker must qualify but three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann meets Denmark's Nanna Brosolat Jensen. British squad rival Susan Hughes has an even tougher clash against Dutch No 2 Judith Meulendijks.

China have top seeds in both singles through Bao Chunlai and Zhu Lin.

But England are top seeds in the men's doubles in the shape of Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis with Chris Adcock and Robert Blair the second seeds. Blair and Adcock are on course for an all-English second round clash with Chris Langridge and David Lindley if both pairs win their openers.

In the mixed doubles Sarah Bok and Gabby White have been unlucky to draw top seeded Koreans Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won, the Yonex All England champions from Korea in the first round.

Mariana Agathangelou and Scotland's Jillie Cooper start against a qualifier - but a win will pit them against the Koreans or their GB training partners in the second round!

Robin Middleton and Agathangelou are third seeds in the mixed doubles qualifying and Andrew Ellis and Bok are in qualifying action with them today.

In the main draw Adcock and White are sixth seeds and start against Jorrit de Ruiter and Ilse Vaessen of Holland. But their big test lies in the quarter-finals when they could run into top seeds and Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung.

England also have third seeds David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan in the bottom half of the draw where they start against Indonesia's Flandy Limpele and Russia's Anastasia Russkikh. Langridge and Cooper open against a qualifer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tickets selling fast for 99th Yonex All England

WITH just over a week to go to the start of the 99th Yonex All England Championships, BADMINTON England are bracing themselves for a blockbuster tournament at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Tickets for the finals on Sunday, March 8 are already sold out and the semi-finals on Saturday, March 7 are also virtually all gone.

The Championships start with the qualifying rounds in all five events, commencing at 11am on Tuesday March 3.

For the second year running, the qualifying rounds are open to the public, offering the chance to see many of England's top players like two-time English National men's singles champion Rajiv Ouseph and new National women's singles champion Jill Pittard in action.

They will be competing along with many international stars who have not clinched direct entry into the 32-strong main draw in this third BWF Super Series event of the year.

Pittard is one of the local stars in action – and is one of the few players in the world's top 50 to hold down a full-time job. The 31-year-old is an engineer at Land Rover in Coventry.

This year's line-up is one of the best ever with Olympic and world champions competing at the National Indoor Arena. China's world and Olympic champion Lin Dan is the star attraction with big names like Peter Gade, Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat out to stop him winning a fourth men's singles title.

Denmark's world No 1 Tine Rasmussen is back to defend her women's singles title.

Nearly 300 players from 34 nations will be taking part and tournament director Darren Parks, running his seventh consecutive All England at the NIA, said today: "It's incredible. Finals day was just about sold out even before we announced the entry list and there are now very few tickets left for the Saturday.

"That's how popular the Yonex All England Championships have become. Ticket sales are going so well that I urge fans to book now to get the seats they want.

"The fact that the Championships follow on closely from the English Nationals in Manchester and the European Team Championship in Liverpool in the last five weeks has really got the spectators excited about the All England."

To book tickets check out or telephone 0844 444 9994. Tickets are also available from the NIA box office during the event

Tickets are on offer in a range of prices with discounts for BADMINTON England members, senior citizens and students.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home hopes out of luck in Yonex All England draw

THE luck of the draw deserted England's two big hopes for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from February March 3-8.

Just two days after helping Team England win the silver medal at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England's European champions and fourth seeds Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg, the 2007 runners-up, were drawn against their team-mates, 2005 champion Nathan Robertson and new partner Jenny Wallwork, in the first round of the mixed doubles.

And the winners could face another England pair in teenage stars Chris Adcock and Gabby White in the second round.

On top of that Anglo-Scottish pair Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier, who are the seventh seeds, must take on England's world No 16 pair David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan in the first round.

But it wasn't only England who were out of luck. Three-times champion Lin Dan is on course to meet his team-mate Bao Chunlai in the second round of the men's singles if the world and Olympic champion overcomes a qualifier and Bao beats Dutchman Eric Pang in the opening round of the men's singles. China's third seed Chen Jin, who beat Lin Dan in last year's final, starts his title defence against Japan's Kenichi Tago.

Andrew Smith, the hero of England's valiant bid to beat Denmark on Sunday with his win over world No. 6 Joachim Persson, is the only home player in the main draw of the men's singles and he faces India's Chetan Anand in the first round.

Two-time English National champion Rajiv Ouseph and runner-up Carl Baxter both have to qualify. Ouseph faces Ireland's Scott Evans while Baxter meets India's Anand Pawar, who beat him in the Bank of Scotland quarter-finals in Novermber before Ouseph defeated the Indian player in the final.

In the women's singles Jersey's Elizabeth Cann is the only English player in the main draw and she faces a tough opener against seventh seed Wang Lin of China. Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes will face a qualifier. English National champion Jill Pittard meets Finland's third qualifying seed Anu Nieminen in the first round of qualifying.

In the men's doubles Clark and Robertson are seeded eighth and face a tricky opener against Korea's Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man. England have three other pairs in the main draw with Chris Adcock and Robert Blair in the same quarter as Clark and Robertson. Adock and Blair face Simon Mollyhus and Anders Kristiansen of Denmark in their opening match.

Lindley and Chris Langridge will fancy their chances against Dutch pair Jorrit De Ruiter and Jurgen Wouters but Andrew Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis face a tough time against Malaysian third seeds Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, the 2007 champions.

In the women's doubles Wallwork and Gabby White face Malaysians Goh Liu Ying and Ng Hui Lin while England also have a second pair through to the main draw in Heather Olver and Samantha Ward, who take on Japan's Fujii Mizuki and Reika Kakiiwa.

The entry for the 99th Yonex All England Open championship is one of the strongest on record and tournament director Darren Parks is urging fans to book early. "We have a terrific entry," he said. "It is like a Who's Who of current world stars."

Tickets are available from or call 0844 444 9994. Don't forget tickets are available for the qualifying rounds on Tuesday March 3 as well as the main draw.

Yonex All England Seeds

Men's singles: Women's singles:
1 Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 1 Tine Rasmussen (Den)
2 Lin Dan (Chn) 2 Zhou Mi (Hkg)
3 Chen Jin (Chn) 3 Lu Lan (Chn)
4 Peter Gade (Den) 4 Pi Hongyan (Fra)
5 Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 5 Xie Xingfang (Chn)
6 Joachim Persson (Den) 6 Zhu Lin (Chn)
7 Taufik Hidayat ((Ina) 7 Wang Lin (Chn)
8 Przemyslaw Wacha (Pol) 8 Xu Huaiwen (Ger)

Men's doubles:
1 Markis Kido & Hendra Setiawan (Ina)
2 Lars Paaske & Jonas Rasmussen (Den)
3 Koo Kien Keat & Tan Boon Heong (Mas)
4 Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif & Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari (Mas)
5 Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (Den)
6 Lee Yong Dae & Shin Baek Choel
7 Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng (Chn)
8 Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson (Eng)

Women's doubles:
1 Cheng Wen Hsing & Chien Yu Chin (Tpe)
2 Chin Eei Hui & Wong Pei Tty (Mas)
3 Lee Hyo Jung & Lee Kyung Won (Kor)
4 Du Jing & Yu Yang (Chn)
5 Ha Jung Eun & Kim Min Jung (Kor)
6 Lena Frier Kristiansen & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den)
7 Zhang Yawen & Zhao Tingting (Chn)
8 Shendy Puspa Irawati & Greysia Polii (Ina)

Mixed doubles:
1 Nova Widianto & Liliyana Natsir (Ina)
2 Lee Yong Dae & Lee Hyo Jung (Kor)
3 He Hanbin & Yu Yang (Chn)
4 Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg (Eng)
5 Thomas Laybourn & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den)
6 Joachim Fischer Nielsen & Christinna Pedersen (Den)
7 Robert Blair (Eng) & Imogen Bankier (Sco)
8 Sudket Prapakamol & Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha)

Tuesday, March 3: Qualifying rounds 11am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Wednesday, March 4: First rounds from 10am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Thursday, March 5: Second rounds from10am-10pm approx (3 courts, interval 4pm-5pm)
Friday, March 6: Quarter-finals from 5pm-10.30pm approx (3 courts)
Saturday, March 7: Semi-finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (2 courts)
Sunday, March 8: Finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (1 court)

Bumper entry for Yonex All England

THE 99th Yonex All England Championship organisers were celebrating today after receiving a star-studded entry for the tournament at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from March 3-8.

The entry for the first Super Series event of the year in Europe includes four of the gold medal winners at the Beijing Olympics with double women’s singles winner Zhang Ning (China) the only player missing.

World champion Lin Dan, who was men’s singles runner-up last year, will be back to bid for his fourth All England title in six years, while Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia will be out to add the All England men’s doubles title to their Olympic gold and 2007 world title.

In the women’s doubles China’s Olympic winners Du Jing and Yu Yang will be aiming to improve on their runners-up spot in Birmingham last year but they will once against be up against defending champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won.

In the mixed doubles Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, the Korean pair who defeated Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms on the way to the OIympic mixed title, will be the pair to beat although double world champions and Olympic silver medallists Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia will be among those out to stop them.

But there aren’t just Olympic champions on parade as the quality of the entry reflects the pulling power of the world’s oldest and most prestigious tournament.

Denmark’s world No. 1 Tine Rasmussen will be defending her women’s singles title and will be up against world champion Zhu Lin of China.

Her Danish team-mate, the 1999 All England winner Peter Gade, will come to Birmingham fresh from his resurgent Korean Open final victory over World No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who has never been beyond the semi-finals in Birmingham.

But last year’s men’s singles winner Chen Jin will be another to watch in the men’s singles where England’s world No 21 Andrew Smith (Hants) is in the main draw along with Canadian Carl Baxter (Avon). Two-time National champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex) will have to qualify, such is the strength of the men’s entry.

In the mixed doubles Zheng Bo, winner in 2007 and 2008 with Gao Ling, will try for another title with new partner Ma Jin.

Many of the players who this week have been competing in Liverpool at the European Team Championship have entered – including England stars Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark (both Notts) in men’s doubles. They will be supported by Robert Blair (Leics) and Chris Adcock (Notts), Richard Eidestedt (Bucks) and Andrew Ellis (Yorks) and David Lindley (Notts) and Chris Langridge (Surrey).

But England’s strength in depth comes once again in the mixed where European champions Clark and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) and Blair and Imogen Bankier (Scotland) can expect to be seeded. Robertson will also be in the mix with new partner Jenny Wallwork, along with world No 16s David Lindley (Notts) and Suzanne Rayappan (Herts) and young prospects Chris Adcock and Gabby White (Yorks) will be out to make their mark.

In the women’s singles Jersey’s Elizabeth Cann is in the main draw but new National champion Jill Pittard (Warwicks) must qualify.

But England have four pairs in the main draw of the women’s doubles with Yorkshire pair Wallwork and White leading the way.

Tournament Director Darren Parks said: “We couldn’t have wished for a stronger entry. It’s a great chance to see the England and GB players test themselves against the best of the rest.”


Tuesday, March 3: Qualifying rounds 11am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Wednesday, March 4: First rounds from 10am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Thursday, March 5: Second rounds from10am-10pm approx (3 courts, interval 4pm-5pm)
Friday, March 6: Quarter-finals from 5pm-10.30pm approx (3 courts)
Saturday, March 7: Semi-finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (2 courts)
Sunday, March 8: Finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (1 court)

Denmark overcome early setback to clinch Euro title

By Raphael Sachetat, Badminton World Federation

Denmark overcame a 0/2 lead from England to clinch their 8th title in a row, beating the local heroes in a thrilling final.

The English squad couldn’t be more disappointed. So close, yet so far. Things had started off the best way for England, with Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg against an unexpected line up in the name of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christina Pedersen, the second best pair in Denmark, when everyone thought Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Thomas Laybourn would have been featured.

But the purpose was obviously to give the youngsters experience, as a result of which, Clark and Kellogg gave England a winning start with a 21/10 – 23/21 victory. But the biggest surprise of the day saw Andrew Smith beat Joachim Persson in the second match.

Persson was way favourite in spite of his lack of form lately, but Smith played beautifully in the first game while Persson had trouble getting the engine starting. In the second game, Persson had gotten his game together and led 18/15 but Smith was helped by the local fans, who shouted “out” back to back on one of Persson’s long shuttle.

The English may have played one of them, but instead let it drop to get the point. Few minutes later, Persson was arguing for a dubious line call, which got him aggravated, frustrated with his play as well as the lack of luck towards the end. Smith scored 5 points to lead 20/18 after Persson lost focus and in spite of one match point saved by the Dane, Smith was giving an unexpected lead to his team-mates.

“Joachim has not been playing as well lately as he had at the end of last year, he is in a bit of a slump. He played too much in Smith’s strength tonight. Hopefully, we’ll have enough time to prepare for the All England. But at that stage, at 0/2, We knew it would then be difficult for us to win, but we remained focused and confident,” said Kenneth Jonassen, acting as a coach for the first time.

“But then, Tine put it back together and got us back on track as she was way above Elisabeth Cann. It gave us some confidence.” added Jonassen.

The world number one indeed didn’t have to push her talent to outplay Elisabeth Cann, who was trailing during the whole match for a final 21/14 – 21/10 score.

The men’s doubles promised to be a battle of the nerves between the experienced Nathan Robertson and Clark – who had done an astonishing job in the mixed – and the less experienced Mathias Boe and Casrten Mogensen – who still have been involved in some important matches before, even if they were not necessarily the leading pair in the squad at the time.

And the Danes delivered, winning in three hard fought games 21/17 – 16/21 – 21/15, at the great satisfaction of their coach : “I think the key to this tie was the men’s doubles. Carsten and Matthias played very well in the first and deciding game. They proved they could focus but most importantly that they gained a lot on mental strength,” said Jonassen.

“At 2/2, we were then relying on the women’s double. We believed in Kamilla’s experience and Maria’s good defense and mobility,” added the Dane.

And the last and deciding point was an undecided battle between Kellogg and Jenny Wallwork against Juhl and Roepke. Although the “rookie” Roepke was nervous, she overcame it quickly – and became rather confident through out the match.

“I was nervous at the beginning but then we played well so it was ok,” said Roepke, the daughter of the legend Lene Koppen.

“ I knew that they were nervous too. On my hand, I had played in team events in the Uber Cup in the Netherlands and then in Indonesia last year, while Jenny didn’t,” added Roepke.

She and Juhl gave no chance to their opponents, who tried to play on Roepke rather than her taller partner, but it wasn’t sufficient to destabilise the Danes, who went on to a 21/14 – 21/15 success before standing on the top spot of the podium together with their team-mates, for the 8th time in a row.

“I am very satisfied with this victory, of course, because we won, of course, but also because we were here to test some players under a new kind of pressure. The mixed, for instance, tonight had never been under such a team pressure before. And all through out the week, some showed some some mental strength, and for others, we’ll need to work a bit more on that aspect of their game, but overall it was a great experience for the players,” said Jonassen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

England shattered by Denmark fightback

Team England's dream of winning the European Team Championship turned into a nightmare last night as they saw a surprise 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 defeat by Denmark in the final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

European champions and world No 4 pair Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg gave England a flying start by winning the mixed doubles then World No 21 Andrew Smith got the better of world No 6 Joachim Persson for the first time in eight men's singles meetings.

Smith had lost to Persson in the 3-0 defeat in last year's final in Denmark but in the Echo Arena he turned in a tenacious display.

Although world No 1 and Yonex All England champion Tine Rasmussen put Denmark's first point on the board when she defeated Elizabeth Cann, the Center Parcs supported Team England squad still had high hopes going into the men's doubles.

But Clark and Nathan Robertson, winning his 97th cap, could not quite get the better of Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe.

That left it at 2-2 and Kellogg and Jenny Wallwork were left with the task of winning the deciding rubber just as they had done the night before in the semi-finals against Poland.

But Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Lene Koppen's daughter Marie Roepke were too strong for them and won 21-14 21-15 to complete the fightback.

England head coach Ian Wright was clearly dispirited. "We got a good start but we need to be finishing off matches like this,"he said.

"We showed a lot of guts in the way we played against Poland but I am very disappointed that we couldn't finish off Denmark. We came here for the gold medal, we had the chance, but we didn't take it.

"We have the talent coming through, we have the coaches and the facilities but we need the team to be tougher – like Denmark were tonight.

"For us Jenny Wallwork has been excellent this week and Andrew Smith played well today but he needs to be more consistent and he knows that."

Denmark 3 England 2
(Denmark names first)

Men's Singles
Joachim Persson lost to Andrew Smith 21-16 21-19

Women's Singles
Tine Rasmussen bt Elizabeth Cann 21-14 21-10

Men's Doubles
Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen bt Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson
21-17 16-21 21-15

Women's Doubles
Kamilla Juhl & Marie Roepke bt Donnna Kellogg & Jennifer Wallwork 21-14 21-15

Mixed Doubles
Christinna Pedersen & Joachim Fischer Nielsen lost to Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg 21-10 23-21.

Kellogg & Wallwork rescue England's golden dream

DONNA KELLOGG (Derbyshire) and Jenny Wallwork (Yorks) saved Team England’s gold medal hopes in the European Team Championship semi-finals at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight.

After a four-hour battle with Poland the second seeds won 3-2 to book a final rematch with holders and 12-times winners Denmark, who beat Russia 3-0 in the morning semi-final.

But England, who lost to the Danes in last year’s final in Herning, were taken all the way by Poland and needed a nail-biting three-game win by Kellogg and Wallwork over Kamila Augustyn and Malgorzata Kurdelska in the women’s doubles to make it into tomorrow’s final.

Last year they beat Poland 3-0 in the semi-finals but this time it was a different story despite Kellogg and Anthony Clark (Notts) winning the opening mixed doubles 21-15 21-9 against Michal Logosz and Natalia Pocztowiak.

But Poland levelled it when World No 9 Przemyslaw Wacha defeated World No 21 Andrew Smith (Hants) 21-11 22-20 in the men’s singles before Jersey’s three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann came back from a game down to defeat Augustyn 4-21 21-4 21-9 in the women’s singles.

Poland wouldn’t lie down, however, and Logosz and Robert Mateusiak, the world No 10 pair, were too sharp and aggressive for a subdued Nathan Robertson (Notts) and Clark.

That made it 2-2 and it all hinged on the women’s doubles. Kellogg and Wallwork took the opener 21-12 but Augustyn and Kurdelska came back strongly in the second 21-17 before the England pair edged home 21-12 to put England into the final with Denmark at 2pm tomorrow.

A delighted Cann, who won the crucial singles point, revealed she was given a talking to by coach Yvette Yun Luo after losing the first game. “I wasn’t sticking to the tactics,” she said. “So she was just drumming it in. It worked, didn’t it!”

Head coach Ian Wright said: “We knew it would be a hard slog and it was. The Poles played well but we stuck at it. I am particularly pleased that some of our younger players stepped up to the plate which is what we wanted them to do in this tournament.

“I thought Jenny Wallwork was excellent and, of course, Donna Kellogg’s experience was vital.

“Now we are in with a chance of the gold and we have home advantage. It’s 1984 since we last won it and it’s time we reclaimed the title.”

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Denmark storm into European Team final

Denmark remain on course for their eighth successive European Team Championship title after a comfortable 3-0 win over sixth seeds Russia in the first semi-final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool this morning.

The Danes have now reached the European final 14 times in a row and look to record their 13th gold medal tomorrow when they will meet Team England or Poland.

Mixed doubles stars Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl set the tone for the session after a comfortable 21-13 21-16 win over Vitaly Durkin and Nina Vislova.

World Number 6 Joachim Persson then displayed why he is one of the world's top singles players with an excellent display of patience, agility and power to beat Ivan Sozonov 21-14 21-12 in the men's doubles.

This win for Persson showed he is back on form after his defeat to world number 103 Pablo Abian of Spain in the group stages. That defeat still stands as one of the upsets of the tournament.

It was then left to World No 1 Tine Rasmussen to wrap up the victory with a 21-18 21-7 win over a very resilient and gutsy opponent in Russia's Ella Diehl.

Rasmussen got off to a slow start and the first game could have gone either way, but Rasmussen showed why she is the worlds best at women's singles with a phenomenal second-game performance.

Coach Kenneth Jonassen would give no indication of the line-up for tomorrow's final, but with the clinical performance of his players in today's match, there is little reason for him to change much.

Denmark will play Team England or Poland in tomorrow's final, last year's runners-up hoping that home advantage will give them the edge as they aim to beat Poland and then overcome the Danes for the first time in these championships since 1984 in Preston.

Second semi-final (3pm): Team England v Poland.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Team England beat Ukraine to reach semi-finals

TEAM ENGLAND are through to the semi-finals of the European Team Championships in Echo Arena, Liverpool.

Ian Wright's squad overcame the Ukraine 3-1 to earn a repeat semi-final with Poland, the team they beat 3-0 last year in Herning (Denmark).

The English pairing of Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork got the hosts off to a great start in the mixed doubles with a 21-9 21-14 win over Valeriy Atrashchenkov and Elena Prus.

World No. 21 Andrew Smith made it 2-0 with victory over Dmytro Zavadskyy 17-21 21-15 21-18 in 52 minutes.

Ukraine's only point of the match came as Larisa Griga beat a brave Elizabeth Cann. World No 22 Griga, who is 12 places above Cann in the world rankings, won 21-15 21-19 in an entertaining match.

However, any thoughts of a Ukrainian revival were put to bed as Chris Adcock and Robert Blair secured the third and decisive point for Team England after their 21-14 21-12 victory against the Ukrainian pair Valery Atrashchenkov and Vladislav Druzchenko in the men's doubles.

Victorious Blair, winning his 49th cap, was pleased with his team's performance and sees no reason why they can't progress to the final. He said: "We worked hard and came through tonight. I think we will be too strong for Poland tomorrow but they have some good male players."

The England team for the semi-final is:

Mixed doubles: Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg, Men's singles: Andrew Smith, Women's singles: Elizabeth Cann, Men's doubles: Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson, Women's doubles: Donna Kellogg & Jenny Wallwork.

In the other quarter-finals tonight fourth seeds Poland recorded a 3-1 victory over fifth seeds Netherlands and holders and 12-times winners Denmark were too strong for seventh seeds France, emerging 3-1 winners.

It was left to Russia to spring the one surprise, the sixth seeds coming from behind to defeat third seeds Germany 3-2.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Team England name beat Scots to reach last eight

TEAM ENGLAND booked their place in the quarter-finals of the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight with a 4-1 win over Scotland.

The 2008 runners-up and second seeds, watched by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, will now face eighth seeds Ukraine in the last eight tomorrow night.

The English pairing of Robert Blair and Gabrielle White got the Center Parcs supported home side off to the perfect start against Blair's former team-mates. In a match that lasted just under 30 minutes, the English mixed doubles duo had to work hard in the first game but finally defeated Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier 22-20 21-11.

Bankier is Blair's mixed doubles partner on the international circuit but he said: "It wasn't too hard playing against Imogen, but it wasn't under normal circumstances. It's more difficult playing against your own country, it's a difficult situation.

"I have played with Gabby before, but we were a bit confused. There were things she may have expected me to do and things I expected her to do, but we didn't do it so we got in a bit of a muddle. The second set was quite comfortable and we got more used to each other's style of play".

Two-times English National champion Rajiv Ouseph had to work to overcome 19-year-old Kieran Merrilees 21-13 21-18 in the men's singles.

However, Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes ensured that Dan Travers' team avoided a whitewash in an entertaining duel with England's Elizabeth Cann. Hughes, who beat Cann in their Melbourne play-off and also beat her in the Dunfermline Open in January, kept Cann on the back foot throughout the match and eventually ran out 21-12 15-21 21-17 victor.

Scotland continued to battle valiantly after they took a game off England's National champions Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson but eventually went down 21-13 22-24 21-7.

In the other game in Group 8, Wales' Matthew Hughes received his 100th cap and marked the occasion in the men's doubles by winning 21-11 21-15 with partner Martyn Lewis. However, it was to be in vain as Wales lost the match 3-2 against the Czech Republic with Kristina Ludikova the standout performer for the Czechs.

Denmark did not hold back against Ireland in the final match of Group 1, winning 5-0. Ireland's Chloe Magee had game point early on against Nanna Brosolat Jensen but the Dane, ranked 46 in the world, rallied back to earn a 24-22 21-15 victory.

Germany ended their last round of group games in emphatic fashion after also securing a 5-0 whitewash against Sweden.

Despite some rigid Bulgarian resistance Poland successfully qualified from Group 6 and will now play Netherlands in the quarter finals tomorrow.

All eight seeds are through to the quarter-finals, starting at 6pm.

(1) Denmark v (7) France
(3) Germany v (6) Russia
(4) Poland v (5) Netherlands
(2) England v (8) Ukraine

Team England name team to face Scotland

TEAM ENGLAND head coach Ian Wright has named former Scotland international Robert Blair and Yorkshire's Gabby White for the mixed doubles in the Group 8 decider with the Scots at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight.

Edinburgh-born Blair wins his 48th England cap tonight as the second seeds look to book their quarter-final place and a likely clash with eighth seeds Ukraine tomorrow night.

Middlesex's Rajiv Ouseph and Jersey's Elizabeth Cann return for the singles duties against Scotland, taking over from Andrew Smith and the Wirral's Helen Davies, who made her home debut for England last night in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic.

National champions Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark (both Notts) will play the men's doubles while Jenny Wallwork will partner Donna Kellogg in the women's doubles.

Scotland's six-strong squad features Kieran Merrilees in men's singles, Susan Hughes in women's doubles, with Andrew Bowman and Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier and Jillie Cooper handling the doubles duties.

Intriguingly Blair and Bankier are mixed doubles partners on the world circuit and are in the World's top 10.

England win again to set up decider with Scotland


Team England’s Andrew Smith and Helen Davies were clinical in setting up yet another victory for the hosts at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

England No 1 Smith (Hampshire) was ruthless against Wales’ Irwansyah in the men’s singles, outplaying his opponent 21-8 21-10.

Meanwhile the Wirral’s Davies was not to be outdone and also put in a superb performance winning 21-13 21-17 against Harriet Johnson.

The 22-year-old, watched by Mum Liz and Dad Phil (who was seeing her in action for the first time), admitted: “I was nervous at the start but my coach had told me that I had to attack her before she attacked me.

“It was a good learning experience and, of course, it’s always good to win.”

With England 2-0 up it was left 2004 European men’s doubles silver medallists Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson (both Notts) to clinch the winning lead as they defeated Matthew Hughes and Martyn Lewis 21-12 21-5.

Jersey’s Mariana Agathangelou and Yorkshire’s Jenny Wallwork took the women’s doubles and Chris Adcock and Gabby White won the mixed doubles as England made it straight-games victories in all five matches.

Tomorrow night Team England, who are supported by Center Parcs, tackle the Group 8 decider against Scotland. They were in action against the Czech Republic on the adjacent court.

The Scots got off to a good start through Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier, who beat Petr Koukal and Martina Benesova 21-10 24-22.

And when Kieran Merrilees took the first game against Jan Vondra in the men’s singles, the Scots’ tails were up.

But the 19-year-old could not resist Vondra’s strong fightback and he levelled the match 15-21 21-13 21-16.

However, Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes took charge of her match with Kristina Ludikova to put the Scots back in front after a 21-16 21-12 win and Briggs returned to the court with Andrew Bowman to win the men’s doubles against Vondra and Pavel Florian 21-10 22-20 to give Dan Travers’ team a winning lead.

It was then left to Bankier and Jillie Cooper to finish the job 21-14 21-16 against Ludikova and Benesova for a 4-1 win.

In Group 6 seventh seeds France were dealt a scare when they came up against a fired-up Portuguese outfit. The French were in good spirits after their first win however Portugal’s Pedro Martins was out to spoil the party in the men’s singles.
Martins’ determination, speed and energy proved to be the deciding factor against Brice Leverdez as he left the court with a deserved 21-19 11-21 21-13 win.

That levelled the scores after France won the opening mixed doubles. But Pi Hongyan put the French ahead and they never looked back as Baptiste Careme added a men’s doubles win to his mixed doubles victory and France then won the women’s doubles to make it 4-1.

Switzerland comprehensively defeated Cyprus 5-0 in the other Group 6 match.

The Netherlands’ Patty Stolzenbach showed no mercy for her opponent Mor Bitterman in their 5-0 win over Israel in Group 5.

Stolzenbach won 21-3 21-1 in the women’s singles in 12 minutes, the shortest match of the Championship, as Holland surged to a 4-0 lead before Israel snatched the last rubber through Misha and Svetlana Zilberman, who defeated Jorrit De Ruiter and Isle Vaessen 11-21 21-16 21-19.

In Group 5 Austria went down 4-1 to Belgium with Nathalie Descamps leading the way with a mixed doubles and a women’s singles win.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Team England kick off with 5-0 win

TEAM ENGLAND got their European Team challenge off to a perfect start with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight.

Fittingly, European and three-times English National champions Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg got the team off the ideal start with a 21-9 21-8 win over Pavel Florian and Martina Bensova. That was a nice way for Kellogg to cap her 80th England appearance.

National singles champion Rajiv Ouseph followed up with a 21-17 21-10 victory over Petr Koukal and Jersey's Elizabeth Cann clinched the winning lead with a battling 21-17 21-19 victory over Kristina Ludikova.

Chris Adcock and Robert Blair, winning his 47th cap, took the men's doubles with a 21-13 21-8 victory over Jan Vondra and Pavel Florian.

It was left to Jenny Wallwork and Gabby White to complete the clean sweep but the Leeds pair did it the hard way, coming back from 11-6 and 13-9 down in the deciding game to win 21-18 18-21 21-14.

England, the second seeds and 2008 runners-up, are back in action tomorrow night when they face Wales in their second Group 8 contest.

The Welsh lost 4-1 to Scotland in their group opener, Irwansyah collecting their only win in the men's singles when he beat 19-year-old Welsh Open runner-up Kieran Merrilees 21-19 21-19 in a 34-minute duel that turned out to be the longest clash with the match.

That made it 1-1 after Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier had won their mixed doubles clash with Martyn Lewis and Caroline Harvey 21-9 25-23. Dan Travers' squad then took the next three rubbers to seal the 4-1 win.

Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes won 21-15 21-5 in just 18 minutes against Harvey, Briggs and Andrew Bowman beat Lewis and Matthew Hughes 21-18 21-19 while Bankier and Jillie Cooper toppled Harriet Johnson and Kerry Ann Sheppard 21-11 21-10.

In other matches Belarus overpowered Norway 5-0 in Group 4 helped by two wins each for men's doubles pair Aliaksei Konakh (who also won the mixed) and Yauheni Yakauchuk (who also won the men's singles).

And there was a 5-0 win for eighth seeds Ukraine over Italy in Group 7 where Iceland edged the last match of the night when they beat Hungary 3-2 by winning the deciding mixed doubles 21-15 21-13 as Helgi Johannesson and Tinna Helgadottir beat Henrik Toth and Krisztina Adam.

Estonia push Sweden on Day One in Liverpool

Sweden were given a scare as the European Team Championship got under way this afternoon at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

The 1992 and 1994 champions were in danger of an early defeat as world
No 45 Kati Tolmoff won her women's singles against Sophia Hansson 21-8 21-12 to follow up Raul Must's men's singles win over Henri Hurskainen 21-10 16-21 21-15.

Estonia had lost the opening mixed doubles but the two singles wins put them 2-1 up – and in the men's doubles Ants Mangel and Raul Kasner took the first game before Joel Johansson-Berg and Johan Kasperi hit back to level the match with a 19-21 2-18 21-11 win after 41 minutes.

That left the women's doubles to come and Tolmoff and Karoliine Hoim took the first game 22-20 only for Emma Wengberg and Elin Bergblom to turn the tables by taking the next two games 21-16 21-17 and give Sweden victory after the first session's longest match of 42 minutes.

Fourth seeds Poland, who could face second seeds Team England in the semi-finals if they both progress through the group stages and the quarter-finals, easily overcame Lithuania 4-1 in Group 6 helped by wins for world No 9 Przemyslaw Wacha in the men's singles and the experience of doubles stars Michal Logosz (with Wojciech Szkudlarkczyk) in the men's doubles and Robert Mateusiak and Kamilla Augustyn in the mixed.

Their only reverse came when Anna Narel lost the women's singles to Akvile Stapusailyte 21-19 21-18.

Fifth seeds Holland, who will meet Poland in the quarter-finals if they both come through their groups, had no trouble brushing aside Austria 5-0 in Group 5 although Peter Zauner and Michael Lahnsteiner made Jurgen Wouters and Koen Ridder work for their 21-17 28-26 in the longest match of the contest – 32 minutes.

In the other Group 5 match Belgium were too strong for Israel and also won 5-0.

Two-time European women's singles champion Xu Huaiwen clocked up the fastest win to date In the Group 3 contest between third seeds Germany and Slovakia, taking just 16 minutes to power past Zuzana Orlovska 21-7 21-9 as the Germans won 5-0.

Team England go for Youth & Experience

TEAM ENGLAND will rely on a blend of youth and experience when they go into their opening contest against the Czech Republic at the European Team Badminton Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Manager Ian Wright has picked European and three-times English National champions Anthony Clark (Notts) and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) in the mixed doubles. The pair have 161 caps between them and will be the driving force in the line-up.

The singles berths go to three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann (Jersey) and Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex), who retained his National title at Manchester Velodrome eight days ago.

The men’s doubles responsibilities in the Center Parcs-supported Team England rest with Robert Blair (Leics) and teenager Chris Adcock (Notts) while the women’s doubles duties go to Leeds pair Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork (both Yorks). Both these pairs were runners-up at the Nationals.

Wright said: “We want to rotate Anthony, Rob and Nathan (Robertson) in the group stages so Chris Adcock is likely to play all three group matches.

“We are in confident mood but not over-confident. We know the Czechs have strong singles players and we know the Scottish squad have improved a lot because several of them do their GB training at Milton Keynes.

“We will not be taking any of the matches lightly,” added Wright, whose squad face Wales on Wednesday night and Scotland on Thursday night.

Team England, runners-up last year in Herning, are second seeds behind 12-time winners and holders Denmark. If they top Group Eight they will go into the knockout quarter-finals on Friday night. The semi-finals are on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

Thirty-two nations will be competing in the first European Championships to be staged in England since Preston in 1984 – and all have arrived safely in Liverpool despite the weekend’s troubles with the weather.

The teams are divided into eight groups of four with the nation topping each group making up the eight quarter-finalists.

Men’s singles: Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex, age 22, caps 22)
Women’s singles: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey, age 29, caps 22)
Men’s doubles:
Chris Adcock (Notts, age 19, caps 4) & Robert Blair (Leics, age 27, caps 46)
Women’s doubles:
Gabby White (Yorks, age 18, caps 3) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks, age 22, caps 11)
Mixed doubles:
Anthony Clark (Notts, age 31, caps 82) & Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire, age 31, caps 79)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pittard triumphs at last in English Nationals thriller

COVENTRY'S Jill Pittard stole the show on finals day at the English National Badminton Championships at Manchester Velodrome this afternoon when she finally won the women's singles title after three final defeats.

But on a day when European mixed doubles champions Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg made it a hat-trick of titles, Kellogg won her third women's doubles title in a row and her seventh in total, and Rajiv Ouseph retained his men's singles crown, Pittard lifted her first title but not before putting her fans through the wringer.

It took her seven match points to get the better of three-time champion Elizabeth Cann, the Jersey player and England No. 1 who inflicted one of those three final defeats on Pittard two years ago.

The Land Rover calibration engineer won the first game 21-19, dropped the second 14-21 and looked to be home and dry at 20-17 in the third. But Cann pulled back to 20-20 and then saved six match points before gaining the first of two match points for herself at 24-23 and again at 25-24.

But Pittard wouldn't be denied and on her seventh match point she finally saw her dream come true by winning 27-25 after a 57-minute final.

Pittard, who was dropped from the England squad last summer and is not in the team to tackle the European Team Championship in Liverpool from February 10-15, said being left out made her more determined to win. And her celebrations at the end showed how delighted she was.

"I shouldn't be winning this title at 31," she said. "And I don't know whether I'll be back next year. I only wanted to win it once. There aren't many people who work full time and get to four National finals. And I shouldn't be winning as a full-time worker and a part-time player.

"But I knew I had one more chance. I owe a big thanks to Mike Adams at Loughborough and Lorraine Cole in Birmingham. After I'd been dropped from the England squad I would have had nowhere to train but for them.

"Maybe the England selectors will take note, especially with the Sudirman Cup and the World Championships coming up this year."

Looking back on the final she said: "When I got to 20-17 in the third I thought 'I can't lose with three match points'. But she got back and Pittard had to dig deep before her final dream came true.

Ouseph (Middlesex) eased to a straight game victory over world No 35 Carl Baxter, the Winnipeg-born Avon player who was playing in his first Nationals. Ouseph didn't drop a game on the way to the title, beating Baxter 21-16 21-15.

Finals day began with Clark and Kellogg winning their third mixed title against Chris Langridge and Sarah Bok, the pair who had not won a game together, let alone a match, going into these Nationals. They put up a spirited display against the World No4 pair but Clark and Kellogg won 21-10 21-19.

Kellogg's women's doubles title defence was far less straightforward as she and Suzanne Rayappan, the top seeds, took on rising stars Jenny Wallwork and Gabby White.

Kellogg and Rayappan took the first game 21-14 but back roared the young Leeds pair to take the second 21-15. But the third was a nail-biter. Kellogg and Rayappan led 18-14 and moved to two match points at 20-18. Wallwork and White recovered to lead 21-20 but White was service faulted on the first of their two match points. In the end Kellogg and Rayappan won on their fourth match point 25-23 after 59 minutes.

In the last final Nathan Robertson made up his mixed doubles disappointment when he and Clark defeated Robert Blair and Chris Adcock 21-13 21-11. That gave Clark a record-equalling eighth men's doubles title alongside Simon Archer's eight from 1994-2001. For Robertson it was his seventh men's doubles.

English National Badminton Championships (Velodrome, Manchester)

Men's Singles Semi-Finals:
(1) Rajiv Ouseph (Middx) bt Ben Beckman ((Surrey) 21-11 21-13
(2) Carl Baxter (Avon) bt (3) Harry Wright (Lancs) 21-7 21-16
Final: Ouseph bt Baxter 21- 16 21-15

Women's Singles Semi Finals:
(1) Elizabeth Cann (Jersey) bt (4) Sarah Walker (Essex) 21-17 21-10
(2) Jill Pittard (Warks) bt (3) Helen Davies (Cheshire) 21-11 21-13
Final: Pittard bt Cann 21-19 14-21 27-25

Men's Doubles Semi Finals:
(1) Anthony Clark (Notts) & Nathan Robertson (Notts) bt (3) Richard Eidestedt (Bucks) & Andrew Ellis (Yorks) 18-21 21-13 21-19
(2) Chris Adcock (Notts) & Robert Blair (Leics) bt (4) Chris Langridge (Surrey) & David Lindley (Notts) 22-20 15-21 21-18
Final: Clark & Robertson bt Adcock & Blair 21-13 21-11

Women's Doubles Semi Finals:
(1) Donna Kellogg (Derby) & Suzanne Rayappan bt (4) Sarah Hardaker (Hants) & Jo Nicholas (Lancs) 21-13 21-6
(2) Jenny Wallwork (Yorks) & Gabby White (Yorks) bt Mariana Agathangelou (Avov) & Sarah Bok (Yorks) 19-21 21-16 21-18
Final: Kellogg & Rayappan bt Wallwork & White 21-14 15-21 25-23

Mixed Doubles Semi Finals
(1) Anthony Clark (Notts) & Donna Kellogg (Derby) bt (4) Chris Adcock (Notts) & Gabby White (Yorks) 21-12 21-11
Chris Langridge (Surrey) & Sarah Bok (Yorks) bt (2) Nathan Robertson (Notts) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks) 21-18 18-21 21-16
Final: Clark & Kellogg bt Langridge & Bok 21-10 21-19

For more reports see