English National Badminton Championships   04-06 Feb 2011  

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TODAY at the National Cycling Centre:     Draws & Results
Sunday 6th, Day THREE

watch them on Sky next week
WS:  [3] Nicola Cerfontyne bt [4] Sarah Walker
                22-20, 16-21, 21-17 (58m)

MS:  [1] Rajiv Ouseph bt [2] Carl Baxter
                21-10, 21-16 (33m)

Doubles Roundup

WD:  [1] Wallwork & White bt [2] Agathangelou & Olver
                21-7, 21-17 (33m)
XD:  [1] Robertson & Wallwork bt [2] Adcock & White
                21-18, 16-21, 21-17 (56m)
MD:  Robertson & Langridge bt [2] Adcock & Ellis v
                21-12, 21-17 (31m)

Photo Galleries

WS:  [3] Nicola Cerfontyne bt [4] Sarah Walker
                22-20, 16-21, 21-17 (58m)

Cerfontyne - the biggest surprise
Richard Eaton reports

Nicola Cerfontyne, entirely self-funded and playing in her first tournament after three months out with a groin injury, became a surprise national champion when she won an hour-long tussle with Sarah Walker.

Neither had been seeded to reach the final, but they produced an intriguing contest of twists and turns in which perhaps the least known of the leading players won the title.

"I didn't know if I would even be here," admitted Cerfontyne after her 22-20, 16-21, 21-17 triumph. "I am a bit shocked really. I don't know what to say."

For a while in the middle of the match it looked as though Walker's nicely varied game was getting the better of Cerfontyne's speed and determination.

She seemed to be gaining control of the match in the middle game and had she not allowed two game points to get away from her in the first she might have been cantering to victory.

Cerfontyne was still the better athlete, Walker was the better stroke-player, but the suspicion was that Cerfontyne had a mental edge.

After reaching 3-0 in the third Walker began to falter, her error ratio increasing, and her movement a little more laboured. Cerfontyne won the best rally of the match with a typically quick kill at the net to nose ahead 4-3, and it seemed to give her confidence.

"My game plan was just to get everything back," said Cerfontyne, whose best asset, even when she was tiring, was her speed. "Even if the shuttle was two centimetres off the ground I was still going to go for it."

She was 11-8 up at the interval, and then 18-14, but even though Walker again produced some of the best constructed points of the match to half the deficit, she did not quite have the energy to push through.

It was nevertheless an encouraging effort by a player who lost almost a year of her career to injury, even though she will probably reflect on what might have been.

As for Cerfontyne, at least the future may offer her more than the present. She survives with financial help from family and from doing coaching at the Greve club in Denmark where she has been based since September.

"I just didn't seem to be getting the opportunities back home," she said. "But I always wanted to win the nationals. This is massive not only for what the title means, but for my confidence."

Future funding may depend on whether the 23-year-old Cerfontyne is the eventual successor to Liz Cann, the current England number one, or the 21-year-old Walker, or the 20-year-old Kate Robertshaw.

Further down the line, the 15-year-old Chloe Birch, the impressive conqueror of an ailing Cann, may also get into the reckoning. English women's singles may be entering a period of transition.


MS[1] Rajiv Ouseph bt [2] Carl Baxter
                21-10, 21-16 (33m)

Ouseph's quartet raises world hopes
Richard Eaton reports

Rajiv Ouseph frustrated his regular sparring partner and good buddy Carl Baxter yet again when he won the men's singles title for a fourth successive time with a skilfully taken 21-10, 21-16 win.

That sequence has only been done once before and if the 24-year-old with the smoothly flowing, steadily developing game returns to achieve a quintet next year that will be a record.

"I'm trying to get into the habit of winning," said the Commonwealth and European bronze medallist. "I've started to do that more so hopefully I can carry it on.

"I was expected to win this but it's always nice to win a tournament. You don't get that very often when you're week in week out playing Super Series events, so winning a tournament is a good thing and gives you a mentality and a momentum."

Ouseph's performance showed just how and why he has been pushing to within sight of the world's top ten in the last year.

His trademark net game, deft and perceptive, was working well, along with mid-court blocks and pushes which have denied so many a hopeful aggressor, but there were newer, more aggressive ingredients too.

Baxter, who has seen these emerge at closer quarters than anyone else, knew that anything short would be punished, and that Ouseph was more attack-minded than he has ever been.

"The shuttles were quick so it was good to attack when I could," said Ouseph, though it is his longer term policy to look for opportunities to do that more anyway.

That became most apparent as he moved from a 14-10 first game lead to take the next seven points in one commanding run.

Two of them, at 17-10 and 18-10 were taken with sudden, fierce smashes from deepish positions, one straight and one cross-court. These two shots, more than any other, stamped his authority upon the game.

Baxter tried to undermine it by forcing the issue more himself, but once missed a net shot from a good position, giving a loud shriek as he did so, and then missed an attempted kill to go 6-10 down.

By now Ouseph was in relentless control, like a well-oiled machine with an increasing number of parts coming into operation.

Once he swivelled full circle to vacate the mid-court and flow into a "Danish" swipe-drive which got him out of a difficult position at the back, and on another occasion he did two delightfully delicate hairpin net shots in a row to set up a kill.

It was nevertheless Baxter who produced the shot of the match, launching a brilliant backhand smash which hurtled for a cross-court winner a shot perhaps born of desperation but which elicited a smile of congratulation from Ouseph.

"I had to be more focused as this was a tougher match than the others," said the champion of his opponent, who has now been runner-up three times in a row.

"But I was able to play the way I wanted to. And, yes, I think it showed that this has been my best 12 months."


MDRobertson & Langridge bt [2] Adcock & Ellis v
                21-12, 21-17 (31m)
XD:  [1] Robertson & Wallwork bt [2] Adcock & White
                21-18, 16-21, 21-17 (56m)
WD:  [1] Wallwork & White bt [2] Agathangelou & Olver
                21-7, 21-17 (33m)

Robertson dedicates title
to unlucky Clark

Richard Eaton reports

Nathan Roberton dedicated his ninth national men's doubles title to his friend and former partner Anthony Clark, who suffered an agonising eye injury the day before the tournament when he was hit in the eye with a shuttle.

Robertson's success with Chris Langridge followed his successful defence of the mixed doubles title with Jenny Wallwork, thus carrying him to within one of Mike Tredgett's all-time record total of 16 of six national titles.

But unlucky Clark had missed the the chance to extend his record-breaking sequence of men's doubles titles to ten, and Robertson was prompt in deflecting the limelight from himself.

"This is for him because he deserves his tenth title in a row," Robertson said after he and his scratch partnership with Langridge completed their fourth straight games match with a 21-12, 21-17 victory over Chris Adcock and Andy Ellis.

"It's a travesty Anthony's not here," Robertson continued. "It wasn't that I particularly wanted to play men's doubles, but I did enjoy it, and no-one got close to us which was fantastic because we have only played together in practice.

Langridge showed again, as he had throughout the three days, that he has speed and imagination, and, as the final smash was struck, a great deal of desire became apparent too.

He leapt from the arena with a giant sideways hop which carried him over the A-boards and with a noise which alarmed a couple of front row spectators.

"Sorry about that I was a bit excited and got a bit carried away," he said. "I had had three finals which didn't work out, but this time I was playing with Nathan which was a bit lucky.

"It's real bad luck for Anthony though to be hit in the eye by a shuttle. So I am after Gary Fox for that no you're all right Gary," Langridge added, injecting some helpful humour.

It became the second successive year that both Robertson and Wallwork won two doubles titles, a triumph which was more remarkable for Wallwork having to play through both finals with a gluteal injury.

They won the mixed doubles together by beating Chris Adcock and Gabby White 21-18, 16-21, 21-17, and later Wallwork teamed up with White to beat Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver 21-7, 21-17 in the women's doubles final.

That result only briefly looked in doubt near the end, but the mixed was a tough contest. Robertson often conferred with Wallwork between rallies, something which got him a reprimand from the umpire.

"I'm not the only one who isn't ready," retorted Robertson defiantly. He was determined to encourage and communicate with his ailing partner.

They survived because Robertson was the most creative player, especially in the vital moments at the finish, but Wallwork was certainly the most courageous player of the day.

"The night before I didn't think I would be fit enough to play, and I wasn't sure in the morning," she said. "I was a bit worried but the physio said give it a go.

"If I had done a few big lunges I might not have managed it. The injury hurt for a while, but then I guess the adrenalin took over."

Wallwork also had a formation plan with White. "I did nothing forwards. I said you run forwards and I'll run backwards," she quipped.

Wallwork and Robertson may nevertheless be better equipped to do well at next month's All-England Open than they were last year, and Robertson says he is prepared to step in to partner Langridge again at the European team championships in Amsterdam in just over a week's time if Clark is still not fit.

But whether Robertson will go on to equal or overtake Tredgett's record of 16 titles next year is more in doubt. By then he will have reverted to one event, and the 2012 nationals will come just before the end of the London Games' qualifying period. For a 33-year-old there are also other considerations.

"Most of the players here are half my age," Robertson said, exaggerating a little to get the laugh. But he also made a point. "I might play the nationals one more year but then I'll be content to sit and watch," he said.

The end of an era is approaching.

Friday 4th, Day ONE             Saturday 5th, Day TWO

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