18 September, 2023

Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith claimed their first tournament win since 2020 with victory at the YONEX Belgian International.

The world no.29 pair found fine form in Leuven, beating Danish duo Mikkel Mikkelsen and Rikke Soby 21-18 21-15 in the final to take top spot in mixed doubles.

It was an emotional triumph for Ellis who made his international debut alongside Peter Mills at the 2009 Belgian International.

This was Ellis and Smith’s first tournament win together since the 2020 Thailand Masters, since when the 34-year-old has battled back from career-threatening hip surgery.

“We are delighted to have won this week,” said Ellis. “This tournament holds a lot of fond memories for me.

“Coming back 14 years later makes me feel very old but also proud I can still play and win at this level! We hope to use this to give us confidence leading into the very busy competition block through October and November.”

Ellis and Smith certainly had to work for the win, going the distance as early as the Round of 16 where they beat Scotland’s Adam Pringle and Rachel Andrew 21-14 19-21 21-14.

They had to come back from a game down to beat another Danish pair in Mads Vestergaard and Christine Busch at the semi-final stage, putting in a more dominant performance in the final.

Elsewhere, Estelle van Leeuwen and Lizzie Tolman enjoyed a brilliant run to the women’s doubles final in the Flemish region.

They came unstuck against Japan’s Maiko Kawazoe and Haruna Konishi, going down 21-8 21-10 in the final.

But Van Leeuwen and Tolman could reflect with pride on their route to the final, in particular an epic 18-21 22-20 23-21 quarter-final win over Swedish fourth seeds Moa and Tilda Sjoo.

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