Team England made a strong start to the mixed team event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to qualify for the knock-out stage.
The talented squad didn’t put a step wrong in their first two games in Group B, winning both 5-0, as they secured a place in the quarter-finals in style.
Barbados were swept aside on Friday in the hosts’ opening contest at the National Exhibition Centre, with Commonwealth debutants Freya Patel-Redfearn and Sean Vendy both making winning starts to their Team England careers.
Women’s singles shuttler Patel-Redfearn was in fine form in the third match of the tie, producing some excellent badminton to see off former Carebaco International winner Tamisha Williams, 21-6, 21-3.
And the debutant was delighted to finally get out on-court after such a big build-up.
“It was a really good match to get a feel for the hall and to get into it and calm my nerves a little bit,” Patel-Redfearn said. “I feel I did quite well so I’m very pleased.
“It’s my first Games so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to get a certain goal, it’s quite draw dependent as there’s some strong girls in there but a lot of games I can win.
“I just want to get through as many games as possible and put in some good performances.”
Vendy was in action with men’s doubles partner Ben Lane and they also had a straightforward win to kick off their Commonwealth campaign. The duo saw off Kennie Maarten King and Shae Michael Martin, 21-5, 21-10.
Chloe Birch and Jessica Pugh, part of the 2018 squad, also picked up a doubles win in their first appearance in court.
It was a similar story in the second group game against Mauritius on Friday night.
Wins for Callum Hemming and Pugh in a mixed doubles tie and Toby Penty put England two up.
Further victories followed for Lane and Vendy, Patel-Redfearn, as well as Lauren Smith and Birch in a women’s doubles rubber, to complete a second clean sweep.
The final Group B tie was a tougher assignment against Singapore, who England beat in the bronze medal match back in 2018.
Three consecutive defeats gave ensured the south-east Asians would get the win and top the group.
However, there was consolation for the hosts when Lane and Vendy fought back from a set down to beat Terry Hee and Loh Kean Hean, 19-21, 21-12, 21-18 to get a point on the board.
Lane felt the superb support from the home crowd was vital to victory in their toughest game so far.
“It feels great,” he said after the win. “There are so many English fans who came and supported us.
“When you turn ends in game three and you’re 11-4 down you definitely need a boost, and they gave it to us.
“The tie had gone but we still wanted to put points on the board for England.
“We know we’ve got this pair probably later on in the tournament (in the men’s doubles event), so I think both pairs knew that and didn’t want to lose.”
A women’s doubles defeat for Birch and Smith in the final rubber meant a final score of 4-1 to Singapore.
But England still go through after finishing second in the group and will face Canada in the last eight on Sunday.