• English National Badminton Championships  • 05-07 Feb 2010 •  

Robertson ] Clark ] Cann ] Ouseph ] [ Wallwork ]
Nationals Previews #5: Jenny Wallwork

Richard Eaton reports

Jenny Wallwork used to suffer from the opposite of the pushy parent syndrome. Her parents were so determined to ensure that excessive pressure was not placed upon her that “if anything I always wanted mine to be more pushy,” she claims.

“When I was younger I was always training, training, training, and they were like: “Are you sure you are not doing too much?” It used to drive me mad!”

Wallwork nevertheless counts herself extremely lucky to have had such a supportive mum and dad, Jill and Brian - both of whom played for England, but whose achievements she may be about to surpass.

After a year in which she has increased her experience of international play, she has now become favourite to win two nationals titles, the women's and mixed doubles.

Both her partnerships, with Gabby White and with Nathan Robertson, have started to develop. “Nothing clicks straight away,” Wallwork said. “As a partnership there are a lot of things you have to do to get you firing.

“People sometimes think that because Nathan has done so well, we will automatically be a good pair. But it's difficult at the beginning. We have worked very hard, and it's looking up now, and it's coming together. I'm happy with it.”

She and White are aggressive, attacking players, and they have been working on their defence - how to combine better in the side-to-side formations and how to cope with shots down the middle.

With her and Robertson it has been more a case of learning to move around each other more intuitively, to create a more fluid change from defence into attack and, if necessary, back again.

Some say that she and White are strong favourites in the women's doubles, but Wallwork long ago learned to avoid the pressure which comes from agreeing with a suggestion like that.

”Heather (Olver) and Mariana (Agathangelou) are a very good pair,” she said, which, even if Mariana is her best friend, still came across as an objective remark.

“They have only recently started playing together, but they are good. English against English often makes quite scrappy games, but I would like to think that me and Gabby have a bit more experience now. We'd like to get in there and beat them.”

Wallwork was similarly careful with how she fielded questions about her partnership with Robertson. Was the perception that she had at first found him very talented but not easy to play with, really true?.

“He's, yes, very talented,” she answered. “It's brilliant to be able to play with someone with so much experience. He definitely helps me a lot. I'm much more able to play my best with someone who has knowledge. I have quality training sessions with someone who helps you know what to do.”

So did he tell her what to do very much? “Recently I have been able to speak to him a lot more,” she countered. “It was difficult at first and I put a lot of pressure on myself, and started to play a totally different game to what I normally do, and played much worse.

“But in the last few months my game has come together and I am very confident, and I know he is as well. It's something you sense.”

It was good to have a “mental edge” over Clark and Olver by having beaten them in Malaysia, she acknowledged, but pointed out that this happened in their opponents' first tournament together. She still thought these two could be their closest rivals.

But there was no way she would consider the possibility of winning two titles. “Obviously it's brilliant if you can live up to the seedings and win both events,” Wallwork replied expertly. “But we'll have to take it as it comes and hopefully play as well as we can.”

If Wallwork does that, it's a good bet on her becoming an English national champion for the first time.

Robertson ] Clark ] Cann ] Ouseph ] [ Wallwork ]


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