England’s Chloe Birch may well hold a firm grip on the national women’s singles title but it’s the prospect of a new doubles partnership that has caught her imagination.
The 23-year-old from Preston has been in rich singles form this year; impressing at the Commonwealth Games, retaining the national crown and consequently rising into the world top 50.
However, it is a fledgling new partnership with Lauren Smith – reunited after two years playing apart - that has netted her a first title of the year-the Czech Open.
Significantly, that title, exactly two years after winning the Belgian International with Smith, came after seeing her singles campaign ended in the first round in Brno when she was seeded to reach the last four.
After a year with Jess Pugh on the World Tour, Birch is now looking to cement a solid partnership in time for Tokyo 2020.
“We are both excited about the partnership. Between us we have had quite a lot of different partners.” said Birch.
Birch is correct. Between them, Smith and Birch have shared 21 partners in seven years - Smith, alone has won Women’s Doubles national titles with four different partners and Birch does not feature on that winners list.
“The Women’s Doubles event now is very strong and you kind of need to have the physicality as well as the quality of shot.
“Many current top women’s doubles pairs play in quite a men’s style, it used to be quite slow with a lot of drops and a lot of clears, but I think now the pace is really high and the physicality of all good players is strong.
“That’s what we both bring to the game, we’re both physically strong and willing to put the hard work in, and so far so good.”
“Let’s hope it carries on!”
And she believes life of the European circuit, playing at International Challenge level, is welcome opportunity to flourish before the World Tour returns later next month.
“It was really good (in Brno) to get some games under our belt and, especially in the semi-final and the final, we have found the right way of playing.
“We wanted to be dominant from the off and that’s what we did. “