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Eight set for England debuts at European Team Championships

Eight players will make their team debut for England this week as a 19-strong squad heads to Kazan for the European Men's and Women's Team Championships.

Ten men and eight women have travelled to Russia with the men’s squad looking to equal or better the bronze medal they won at the last event – also held in Kazan, two years ago.

The women finished second in their group two years ago but just missed out on a quarter-final spot as one of the best second-placed teams.

This year’s event sees David Jones, Ben Lane and Sean Vendy making their international team debuts for the men – with the competition getting underway on Tuesday.

And Vendy, world number 48 and former European U19 runner-up from 2015, is thrilled to fulfil a childhood ambition.

“I am excited to make my debut in the senior England squad, it’s been a goal of mine since I first started playing badminton around nine years of age,” said the 21-year-old.

“I have never represented England as a senior before in a team event but every time I step on court with England on my back it makes me feel proud to represent my country doing what I love.

“I think the goal as a team is to at least get a medal, we have high hopes and think we can get a silver or gold.

“For me personally, I just want to perform well and get wins on the board for the team.”

Taking their bow in the women’s event are Abigail Holden, Grace King, Freya Redfearn, Jess Pugh and Jenny Moore.

And 18-year-old Holden is aiming to soak up as much as possible from the experienced players around her.

“I feel really excited to make my debut at the European Team Championships,” she said.

“I think it will be a really good experience where hopefully I can learn lots about senior badminton from the more experienced players in the team.

“The atmosphere during team events is really fun. It’s a really nice feeling to play with your whole team behind you cheering you on.

“Team events are not very frequent in badminton so they make a nice change from individual competitions that we are more used to.

“Each time I represent England is very special to me and I feel really proud. I don’t know what to expect in terms of the result as a team but I’m excited to get out there and compete.”

With the event being held in Russia, the home nation are likely to be a threat having reached the quarter-finals of both events last time.

England’s men face Hungary, Slovakia and Greenland in Group 2, with the women taking on Norway, Poland and the Czech Republic.

But experienced head Rajiv Ouseph is under no doubt who England’s main opponents – reigning champions in both the men’s and women’s competitions, Denmark.

“We are a mix of younger and older players and if I can pass on any experience then I will,” said the reigning European men’s singles champion.

“Hopefully we can get a medal from the week and that the younger players get the experience of playing in a team event.

“Obviously Denmark will be competitive, as defending champions, but Germany and France are also strong and Russia will be strong on home courts.” 

Full team:

MS | David Jones
MS | Rajiv Ouseph
MS | Sam Parsons
MS | Toby Penty 

MD | Peter Briggs
MD | Marcus Ellis
MD | Ben Lane
MD | Chris Langridge
MD | Sean Vendy
MD | Tom Wolfenden 

WS | Chloe Birch
WS | Abigail Holden
WS | Grace King
WS | Freya Patel-Redfearn 

WD | Chloe Birch
WD | Jenny Moore
WD | Jessica Pugh
WD | Lauren Smith
WD | Sarah Walker