Jess Pugh

An 11-strong English team will look to grasp a precious competition opportunity at this week’s IBERDROLA Spanish International.

The tournament in La Nucia, Alicante runs from Wednesday to Sunday and sees the England team strut their stuff in Spain for the second time in a month.

Their last competitive outing came at the Spain Masters in May and these tournaments on the peninsula are some of the last to be staged before the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Callum Hemming and Jessica Pugh are seeded third in the mixed doubles on the back of a terrific victory at the Portuguese International.

Hemming, who started the season alongside Victoria Williams, hit off with Pugh at the first attempt and they overcame French duo William Villeger and Sharone Bauer 21-18 19-21 15-21 in a pulsating final in Caldas da Rainha.

That gives them a bye to the second round of the Spanish International and an excellent opportunity for a long run at the event.

There are three entries in the women’s singles, taken by Freya Redfearn, Georgina Bland and Abigail Holden.

Redfearn emerged with two victories from her European Championship debut in May.

Redfearn and Bland collided at last month’s Portuguese International, with Bland holding her nerve in the decider to win 15-21 21-19 21-14.

Holden, competing for the first time in 2021, will need to beat either Swiss Nadia Fankhauser or Spain’s Laura Alvarez to claim a place in the main draw.

There are three English pairings in the men’s doubles.

They are Matthew Clare and Ethan van Leeuwen, Rory Easton and Zach Russ and Hemming and Steve Stallwood.

Hemming and Stallwood have beaten both English pairings in 2021 already, downing Clare and Van Leeuwen in straight games at the Portuguese International.

The childhood friends got past Easton and Russ 21-19 21-13 at the Spain Masters and have harnessed the momentum from a memorable first-round victory at the YONEX All England Open.

In the women’s doubles, England enter Pugh and Jessica Hopton.

They will hope to reach the same level that saw them knock out the Estonian third seeds at the Spain Masters, claiming a 21-9 12-21 21-12 victory.

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