Top seeds Heather Olver and Lauren Smith raced to the Orleans International 2016 women's doubles title in France on Sunday as the national champions picked up valuable qualification points in the Race to Rio standings.
Olver and Smith overcame home hopes Delphine Delrue and Lea Palermo, the unseeded French pair who had taken out the second seeds in the second round, 21-19, 21-8.
Victory at the Palais de Sports was their first title since landing the USA International in Florida as an unseeded pair.
“We’re really happy to have won this week, it’s good to take confidence going forward,” said Smith. “In terms of Rio we are just focusing on performing every game, one at a time.”
Their run to the Orleans final – they were beaten finalists in 2015 - had included a pivotal victory over compatriots Chloe Birch and Sarah Walker in the quarter-finals.
In the final, they opened up two crucial leads at 9-4 and 16-13 as they won the opening game.
In the second, the top seeds showed their class when they found themselves 11-0 up before atoning for last year’s final defeat to the Stoeva sisters of Bulgaria in convincing fashion.
Dave Lindley, England's coach in Orleans, said: "This was a solid tournament for both of them and a good final against a young French pair. Heather and Lauren executed the plan very well especially in the second set to earn a comfortable victory."
Elsewhere in Orleans, defending champions Matthew Nottingham and Harley Towler reached the last eight in the men’s doubles.
Nottingham’s run in the mixed doubles with Emily Westwood also ended in the quarter-finals. Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh, continuing their early forays as a senior pair, also reached the last eight.
Olver and Smith will now travel to this week’s Malaysian Open near Kuala Lumpur in buoyant mood.
We will preview the Superseries event on Tuesday.
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