Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pittard through to main draw at Yonex All England

COVENTRY’S Jill Pittard moved confidently through the women’s singles qualifying rounds into the main draw on day one of the Yonex All England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

The new English National champion took her opening qualifying match with a good win over third seed Anu Nieminen of Finland 21-14 21-14. And the 31-year-old Land Rover engineer then overcome Diana Dimova of Bulgaria 21-13 21-8 to earn a place in the main draw, where she will face Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong tomorrow (Wednesday, 10am).

Pittard said: “I was surprised how easily I beat Nieminen but it was my priority to get through to the main draw. But it will be tough tomorrow.”

But there was disappointment for National men’s singles champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middx) and runner-up Carl Baxter (Avon). Ouseph came from a game down to lead Scott Evans of Ireland in his first qualifying test and looked to be on the way to victory when he led 13-11 in the third.

But the Irishman, who lost to Ouseph 21-5 21-19 in the final of the Yonex Irish International in early December, clawed his way back to 14-14 before going on to snatch victory 21-17 9-21 21-19.

Minutes earlier Canadian-born Baxter had been beaten by Anand Pawar of India 18-21 21-17 23-21 despite having led 2-18 in the decider. Afterwards he said: “I became too impatient to win. I was trying to force the issue all the time. He was lucky towards the end but played well.”

Baxter, who lost to Pawar 22-20 in the third game of their quarter-final clash at the Bank of Scotland International in November, added: “I was expecting to face Rajiv in the next round but he lost as well, which was a complete shock.”

England’s other singles disappointment saw Rachel Howard fall in the second qualifying round to Denmark’s Nanna Brasolat Jenssen 21-12 21-9. But at least Howard is through to the main women’s doubles draw after she and Nicola Cerfontyne were promoted from the qualifying draw.

There was agony for Robin Middleton (Yorks) and Mariana Agathangelou (Avon), who were one point away from a place in the main draw of the mixed doubles. In fact, they had three match points against third seeds Johannes Schoettler and Birgit Overzier, the pick of them coming from an amazing cross-court winner by Middleton at 21-20. But Middleton then put his serve out and the England pair were finally edged out by the Germans 8-21 22-20 24-22.

But Yorkshire’s Sarah Bok and Andrew Ellis went through to the main draw when they defeated Dutch pair Ruud Bosch and Paulien van Dooremalen 22-20 21-18. Middleton will get a second chance to make the main draw later tonight when he and Marcus Ellis face India’s Chetan Anand and Diju Valiyaveetil in their final men’s doubles qualifier.

Rob Adcock (Notts) and Dean George (Herts) meet Guo Zhendong and Xu Chen and Andrew Bowman (Scotland) and Martyn Lewis (Wales) take on Rasmus Bonde and Mikkel Delbo Larsen for places in the main draw in the qualifying day’s final matches.

The first day of the Championships was made extra special by a visit from the Barclays Premier League football trophy – with several top stars, including Rexy Mainaky and Lee Chong Wei being photographed with the trophy.