England’s seeded stars once again showed their continental class with another impressive day of victories to reach the European Championship quarter-finals.
No fewer than three European champions were in action for the English contingent with Chris and Gabby Adcock as well as Rajiv Ouseph making it through to the last eight in Huelva, Spain.
But that wasn’t all with Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker as well as Chloe Birch and Jess Pugh prevailing in the women’s doubles, while Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge did likewise in the men’s event.
Birch made it yet another day of double success with victory in the women’s singles, while Ellis and Smith joined forces to good effect in the mixed doubles.
It wasn’t to be for Ben Lane and Sean Vendy as well as Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden, though not before the latter duo gave the second seeds a fright, while Sam Parsons made tournament favourite Viktor Axelsen work before succumbing to the great Dane.
For Smith and Walker there were no such problems, easing their way into the women’s doubles last eight with a hard-fought three-game win over Emma Karlsson and Johanna Magnusson.
They were certainly not given an easy ride by their Swedish opponents however, losing out on the first game before stoically fighting back – a 19-21 21-14 21-12 victory their reward in 55 minutes.
The fourth seeds are now back in action on Friday with the Netherlands’ Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen on the other side of the net, though the English duo are far from content to settle for what they’ve got.
Smith said: “We started off strongly in the first 11, we moved the shuttle around nicely but we got a little bit stuck and frantic.
“But as it went on we came back into it and we were mentally strong to get the lead.
“It’s about taking it one game at a time, we’re going to see how it goes and if we play at our best we know we can win a medal.”
While Walker added: “We got bronze last year and we’ve come back wanting another medal – it would be a pretty good few weeks after the Commonwealths if we were able to do that.”
Indeed, two of the eight women’s doubles quarter-finalists are English with Birch and Pugh – eighth seeds in Spain – needing just 22 minutes to ease past Italy’s Silvia Garino and Lisa Iversen 21-6 21-10.
They now have a tough tie with third seeds Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen but that won’t be Birch’s only action – continuing her remarkable tournament with another women’s singles win.
Last time out she beat fifth seed Beatriz Corrales, though her latest tie with Luise Heim was halted at one game apiece after the German withdrew, leaving the English shuttler to face Evgeniya Kosetskaya.
She is one of two singles players left with European champion Ouseph on court against Lucas Corvee of France, given a walkover from his tie against Ukraine’s Artem Pochtarov.
Into the mixed doubles and there will be yet another two English pairs in action, not least Gabby and Chris Adcock after the top seeds prevailed in the third round.
They faced a stern test however with wildcards Joachin Fischer Nielsen and Alexandre Bøje, eventually prevailing 21-17 21-15 while Ellis and Smith also enjoyed a straight games win, 21-11 21-16 over Richard Eidestedt and Clara Nistad.
They face Marvin Emil Seidel and Linda Efler of Germany on Friday while Ellis will be back on court with Langridge after they held off the challenge of Konstanin Abramov and Alexandr Zinchenko in the men’s doubles.
The shuttle didn’t fall the way of Briggs and Wolfeden however, desperately unlucky to lose the first game to Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding – the Danish second seeds.
The 22-20 opener could easily have gone either way while the English pair missed out in the second game too, losing that one 21-13, with compatriots Lane and Vendy falling in straight games to Jelle Maas and Robin Tabeling.
And there was also a performance to be proud of for Parsons, giving as good as he got against world No.1 Axelsen – particularly in the first game – before falling to a 21-13 21-9 loss to the Dane.
Photo credit: Badminton Photo