2021 has been a topsy-turvy year but one thing has stayed the same – a steady stream of promising performances from English shuttlers on the global stage.
International competition restarted in earnest over the summer and so reignited the progress of our players in top tournaments, particularly in doubles disciplines.
April’s European Championships saw a 10-strong English team return from Kiev, Ukraine with no fewer than three medals.
Mixed doubles top seeds Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith took home silver, their best-ever result together at the event.
Smith then combined with Chloe Birch to snatch doubles silver, narrowly beaten by the Stoeva sisters in the final. It was Smith’s fourth European medal and Birch’s first.
The Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal-winning pairing of Ellis and Chris Langridge also bagged bronze in the men’s doubles.
Ellis, Smith and Birch would continue to be the standard-bearer shuttlers alongside Ben Lane and Sean Vendy on the BWF World Tour and, of course, at the Olympic Games.
Ellis and Smith reached the quarter-finals of the Super 750 Indonesia Masters after Tokyo, one of their best results of the season.
They also led the charge at the 113th edition of the YONEX All England Open, reaching the semi-finals for the second year in succession where they lost to the eventual winners.
Birch and Smith made the quarter-finals in Birmingham and later surged to the Round of 16 at the World Championships, again foiled by the Stoeva sisters.
January brought runaway success for Lane and Vendy in the Bangkok bubble, with wins at the YONEX and Toyota Thailand Open earning them a place in the World Tour Finals.
They went on to take gold at the Orleans Masters, their maiden victory on the World Tour.
Injury disrupted Toby Penty’s year, but the singles star acquitted himself well on Olympic debut in Tokyo and returned to the court with two victories at November’s Scottish Open.
It was a brilliant year for a host of young, newly-formed doubles pairings who picked up medals, confidence and vital experience.
Callum Hemming and Jessica Pugh claimed a landmark victory at the Scottish Open, beating India’s Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto in the final.
The duo also took top prize at the Portuguese International in May, reaching the final without dropping a game and then downing French pair William Villeger and Sharone Bauer.
They also surged to silver at the Welsh and Spanish Internationals, missing out on further tournament triumphs by a whisker in finals that went the distance.
Hemming and Pugh, who first competed together in February 2020, began to impress on the BWF World Tour and won their maiden game at the World Championships in Huelva.
Hemming also tasted success alongside men’s doubles partner Steven Stallwood, reaching the semi-finals of the Super 300 Orleans Masters and debuting at the YONEX All England.
Rory Easton enjoyed an excellent campaign, highlighted by mixed doubles triumph at the Hungarian International alongside Annie Lado.
Easton and Lado then reached the final of the Italian International in a resurgent end to the year.
Sevenoaks star Easton also found form in the men’s doubles alongside Zach Russ – they managed silver in Hungary and earned a place in the Irish Open final.
Abigail Holden made waves on the women’s singles circuit, the 22-year-old winning September’s Hellas International and securing silver at the Dutch Open.
English players can reflect on a challenging but rewarding 2021 and there is no let-up with a packed tournament schedule already in place for 2022

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