The 2017 English National Championships was memorable for plenty of reasons – none more so than the six players crowned champions for the very first time.
Among them were Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden, who made amends for last year’s defeat to Olympic bronze medallists Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis to walk away with the national men’s doubles title.
Facing Sean Vendy and Ben Lane in the last final of the day – the latter of whom had already been crowned mixed doubles champion alongside Jess Pugh – it wasn’t an easy ask for Briggs and Wolfenden.
Having won the first game 21-19, Vendy and Lane restored parity in the second, triumphing 21-17 to take the final into a decider.
But it was Briggs and Wolfenden who eventually came out on top, winning the final game 21-19 to wrap up the final in 49 minutes – the longest match of the day.
And having set themselves the target of winning in Wycombe with Langridge and Ellis not in contention, Briggs and Wolfenden couldn’t have been happier to get the job done.
“I am feeling tested, that was definitely a mental battle for us that game and it went right down to the wire. We feel relieved and mentally tested from that,” said Briggs.
“It means a hell of a lot as I’m sure everyone can tell. We battled it out in the final last year against Marcus and Chris and when we heard they weren’t going to play this year we thought this is definitely our time, 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.”
But while anything less than a win would have been a disappointment for Briggs and Wolfenden, they were under no illusions as to the challenge they faced in Lane and Vendy.
No strangers to their opponents’ strengths, this final was always going to go the distance, and Wolfenden was quick to praise the fight Lane and Vendy posed.
“We play them a lot in training so we both know each other’s styles which makes it difficult,” he said.
“We did have a plan going into the match – it worked in the first set but then in the second set they changed a little bit and they did make it hard for us.
“They didn’t let us get into any rhythm so credit to them for that.”
England's men make the quarter finals of the European Men's and Women's Team Championships, while the women are downed by Denmark.