Alex and Ben Lane saw a dream that they had hoped would one day come true finally materialise in Wycombe – to end their mum’s bragging about how she was the only one in the household to be national champion.
Back in 1993, Suzanne Louis Lane won the first of her two national titles in women’s singles. 24 years on, the Lane household will be a quieter one tonight after brothers Alex and Ben were able to match her achievement by each winning a national crown in front of a full house.
First up it was Ben, who alongside Jess Pugh, won a debut national title with a dominant 21-9, 21-11 Mixed Doubles display against Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore. The pair were never behind in a match they controlled from the outset with clear command of the net.
And just 37 minutes later, Ben was joined on the champions list by older brother Alex, who saw off top seed Toby Penty 21-11, 21-15 in the Men’s Singles. It was a performance fuelled by the disappointment of missing out on glory as runner up last year.
“Mum will be over the moon. All she used to say to us was “until your national champion then you can’t say anything to me” a delighted Ben said after collecting his trophy.
“I am so happy to have won it with Jess. I am over the Moon and we played really well today. That’s probably the best we have played actually.
“So Mum will now have to find something else to use – maybe that she was once 19th in the world? – that will be her next thing.”
Alex too was in jubilant mood. “I came here believing I am the best player in the field and I have showed that. I don’t play too many tournaments these days but the Nationals mean a lot to me, to become national champion is important to me, and I think that showed in my performance.
It’s not about proving a point. It’s just nice to go out there and do what I do. It is nice to win it in the same event as Ben as he would never let me forget it.”
The Lanes were amongst six players to win their career-defining first national titles in the 2017 edition as the new nation’s best, and significantly the 100th individual champion in the 54 year history of the Nationals – were crowned.
That landmark 100th champion milestone went to Tom Wolfenden, based upon order of entry, after he and Peter Briggs ended Finals Day on a high, coming through a tough 3-setter 21-19, 17-21, 21-19 against Ben Lane and Sean Vendy who, in lime green and orange kit, more than played their part in a gripping finale.
For Briggs and Wolfenden it went some way to avenging the loss in last year’s final.
“It means a hell of a lot for us to be national champions as I’m sure everyone can tell” Briggs said. “We battled it out in the final last year and when we saw the draw this year we thought this is definitely our time so we have to do it.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we performed very well in the run up to the final.”
Like Briggs and Wolfenden, the same can be said too for Chloe Birch, who won the Women’s Singles title, at her second attempt, after beating Atu Rosalina Sagita from Essex 21-17, 21-12.
Birch went one step better than last year and was naturally delighted.
“I am a lot fitter and stronger than I was 18 months ago so just pushed the pace all the way. I had all the nerves and pressure on me today but after a nervy start, I’m glad I got into it and came through.
“Winning the Nationals means masses to me. I’ve always done well at Nationals – I’ve had some good results here and I’ve had some close losses.
But this feeling now is what, when I was a little kid coming to this tournament, I dreamed of doing and at 21I’ve managed to do it.”
But it wasn’t just about new faces in Wycombe. There was joy for returning champions as Lauren Smith made it five back to back titles in women’s doubles, this time alongside Sarah Walker, for whom the win was her third, albeit her first in doubles.
The top seeded pair dominated proceedings from point one in a 21-10, 21-10 win over Chloe Birch and Jess Pugh in a fixture which re-enforced the stranglehold Smith has on the trophy.
Significantly for Smith it sees her now having been nations best with three different partners but she would not be drawn on whether Walker was the most pleasing to win with.
She was however a big fan of moving the Nationals around the country to showcase the sport to new fans.
“Every time the Championships move you get new crowds getting to see top level badminton in this country and I think that is really important for our sport.”
So, for now the trophies are handed out, the champions can revel in national pride and the bragging rights, for a while at least in one Devon household, will belong to the brothers Lane.
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