A sell out Friday crowd in Wycombe were treated to some top quality matches, including number of seeded upsets, as the 2017 edition of the English National Badminton Championships got under way.
A six court set up at Wycombe Leisure Centre, a new base for Nationals, saw all 149 players in action across 95 matches and whilst it was plain sailing for Senior England programme players, and top seeds, there were a number of intriguing match ups to delight spectators.
Not least a three end battle between two of England’s fastest rising stars – Freya Patel Redfearn and Grace King - with the former coming out victor over her rival, seeded to make the semi finals – in just the second round.
That win was to be pipped to the event’s match of the day by the efforts of Ross Green, whose two game tussle with the unseeded Sean Vendy ended the England man’s hope of a triple crown here.
Green was delighted by “a big win over a tricky opponent” and is looking forward to the challenges ahead as he lived up to his third seed billing.
It was a good of trickery, clever shot selection and endurance in which the lead exchanged hands frequently.
The first seed to fall on Day One also came in the Men’s Singles where Zach Russ got the better of Joel Douse in a 21-15, 21-19 first round tie. And more upset in the Men’s Singles draw was to follow when the experience of Alex Marritt dispatched Luke Pearce (21-9, 21-18).
The draw’s top seed, Toby Penty, was impressive in coming through his opening two rounds and the Surrey man believes he’s in good form despite “feeling extra pressure” as he looks to live up to his own expectations of title victory here.
He faces U19 reigning champion Johnnie Torjussen in an encounter that stands out as the pick of tomorrow's Quarter Finals.
Seeded upsets were not just reserved for the men’s singles event however. For all of Alex Marritt’s joy, Cristen Marritt was to be on the wrong end of a 13-21, 8-21 scoreline , missing out to 2016 semi finalist Atu Rosalina Sagita.
Six of the 12 who played under the England flag at last week’s World Championships were in action on opening day and all enjoyed winning starts – including Team GB Rio Olympian Lauren Smith who remains in the hunt for a fifth consecutive national title.
2015 finalists Jenny Moore and Viki Williams looked in good touch as they opened their own 2017 challenge whilst last year’s runners up – Alex Lane, Chloe Birch, Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden – all got convincing wins under their belt to settle any sign of early round nerves.
The Championships continue over the weekend with a Super Saturday of Quarter Finals and Semi Finals getting under way from 10am tomorrow and another sell out crowd is expected.
For a full run down of Day One results, click here
A strong YONEX Belgian International 2017 campaign for Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden ended with a silver medal after an exciting men’s doubles final on Saturday.