The England Lions clinched victory in the inaugural England Challenge Cup on Sunday as competitive badminton returned for many of our players.
The team, led by ex-England international Rajiv Ouseph, overcame Olympian Anthony Clark’s Dragons side, 17-4.
It was the first time since the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships in March that the England squad have been able to compete on home soil.
The event, held at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes, was shown live on the BBC and provided an opportunity for some competitive match play as well as for fans to continue to show their phenomenal support to our sport.
We know so many clubs and players have missed being able to return to court but your support for badminton continues to make a difference and the Challenge Cup was an opportunity for Badminton England, including the players, to say thank you.
There were some thrilling performances and with some new pairings being put together for the day, the field was wide open for all players.
Some standout matches included the mixed doubles where Rory Easton and Vikki Williams came from 9-21 down to beat Jess Pugh and Callum Hemming, 9-21, 21-18, 11-4.
Williams secured a hattrick of victories with a women’s doubles whitewash alongside Jenny Moore against Jess Hopton and Annie Lado and later against Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith.
Zach Russ and Steven Stallwood were the only Dragons’ players to enjoy a winning moment as they beat Easton and Van Leeuwen in the opening men’s doubles match. They later lost the second men’s doubles clash against Matt Clare and Max Flynn.
20-year-old Freya Patel-Redfearn came out on top in the only women’s singles match of the day, beating Grace King in straight sets.
Olympic bronze medallist Marcus Ellis joined up with Callum Hemming in a one-off partnership for this event in the absence of regular partner Chris Langride. It was a closer game than the score line of 21-13,21-11 suggests, with Ben Lane and Sean Vendy being put through their paces and made to work for their victory.
England’s number one Toby Penty was the victor in the sole men’s singles match, beating Harry Huang 21-12,21-13.
The day ended with a 21-12, 21-11 victory for the 3v3 men’s Lion’s side.
Lion’s captain Raji Ouseph said: “The guys really came together and produced some very good performances.
“We set this event up to have some competitive match play between the teams and I was very happy with the way the players approached it and how they competed.
“This all came about due to the virus but if something good can come out of it for years to come, it would be great to carry on the tradition of the England Challenge Cup.”
Missed the action? Watch in full on BBC iPlayer HERE.
A full list of results is below:
Zach Russ/Steven Stallwood vs Rory Easton/Ethan Van Leeuwen: 21-14, 21-13
Jess Hopton/Annie Lado vs Jenny Moore/Vikki Wiliams: 14-21, 17-21
Grace King vs Freya Patel-Redfearn: 16-21, 16-21
Marcus Ellis/Callum Hemming vs Ben Lane/Sean Vendy: 13-21, 11-21
Chloe Birch/Lauren Smith vs Jenny Moore/Vikki Williams: 17-21, 21-14, 6-11
Zach Russ/Steven Stallwood vs Matt Clare/Max Flynn: 16-21, 18-21
Callum Hemming/Jess Pugh vs Rory Easton/Vikki Williams: 21-9, 18-21, 4-11
Harry Huang vs Toby Penty: 12-21 13-21
Dragons 3v3 vs Lions 3v3: 12-21 11-21