Lancashire’s Tom Wolfenden became the first male badminton player in 28 years – since Darren Hall in 1984 - to win three U19 national titles this weekend at the U19 English National Badminton Championships, in association with Carlton.
In fact, new champions were crowned in each of the 5 disciplines at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes with Ryan McCarthy and Holly Smith pairing Wolfenden to Doubles glory whilst the unseeded pair of Jenny Moore and Sophie Sankey ripped up the seedings to claim the Women’s Doubles titles.
There was joy too for reigning U17 Women’s Singles champion Chloe Birch, who added the U19 age group title to her already impressive haul this season.
Wolfenden kicked off his unprecedented hat trick of titles by claiming the Men’s Singles title after a closely contested final against Rhys Walker [Warks]. The Lancastrian took the first end 21-15 but Walker put in a sterling comeback to draw level, winning the second end 21-11 in style.
Eventually, the final between the top two seeds swung in favour of Wolfenden as he claimed glory with a 21-16 win in the decider.
It was the start of a big weekend for Wolfenden who then partnered Ryan McCarthy to success in the Men’s Doubles event. The pair’s resolve would be tested in the Final against Alex Lane [Devon] and Sam Parsons [Warks] - the reigning U17 national champions – who had beaten 2 pairs seeded in the top 4 en route to the final.
However, the experienced Wolfenden-McCarthy combination proved a step too far as they strode to glory 21-11, 21-18.
Lane and Parsons had proved that stepping up an age group came without fear and it was a mantra that Yorkshire’s Chloe Birch took one stage further as she added the U19 Women’s Singles title to the pair of U17 titles she won in Hatfield 2 weeks ago.
Birch looked on course for glory after taking the first end 21-13 against top seed Emily Westwood [Herts] but that opening scoreline did little to hint to the epic second end battle that would follow.
A tense, and often nervy, end between the top two seeds swung in both directions as Westwood sought to get back into the game but it was Birch who emerged victorious in dramatic style as she edged to glory with a 27-25 win.
The drama was too be replicated in the Women’s Doubles event, courtesy of the surprise package of Jenny Moore [Cheshire] and Sophie Sankey [Lancs] who claimed the national title in spectacular fashion.
The unseeded, scratch duo were only formed due to the withdrawal of Natalie Chan-Lam, however they were quick to establish themselves on the draw.
And what an impact. Moore and Sankey defeated the top seeds in their first match together and then saw off the joint 3rd seeds in the Semi Final to set up a Final against Buckinghamshire duo Raveesha Fernando and Lexi Gilders, also unseeded.
That momentum generated in the early rounds was carried through to the final by Moore and Sankey, who claimed the national crown with a 21-13, 21-16 win.
All that action left Tom Wolfenden with the chance to complete his perfect hat trick in the last final of the weekend in the Mixed Doubles.
Pairing with Holly Smith [Durham], Wolfenden faced Ryan McCarthy – his Men’s Doubles partner - and Sophie Sankey in the final and it proved to be an absolute classic, worthy of bringing down the curtain on the U19 National Championships.
The script seemed to be going to form as Smith and Wolfenden won the first end 21-13 however McCarthy and Sankey, buoyed by their own title successes earlier in the day, roared back to draw level, 21-17 in the second end.
However, following a gritty and determined display from both pairs, Tom and Holly claimed the decider 22-20 to complete Wolfenden’s golden weekend.
For a full draw-by-draw results service from the U19 English National Badminton Championships – in association with Carlton – click HERE
The U19 English National Badminton Championships are part of the National Championships Series