CALLUM HEMMING and Jessica Pugh came within a whisker of another memorable mixed doubles victory on the BWF World Tour after being denied in a heart-thumping final of the Spanish International.
The English duo came into the event off the back of a terrific triumph at the Portuguese International but were unable to emulate their heroics in Saturday’s final.
The third seeds went down 15-21 21-13 19-21 against Malaysians Kai Wun Tee and Teoh Mei Xing after delivering a defiant display in Alicante.
Precocious pair Hemming, 21, and Pugh, 24, had toppled Austrian duo Philip Birker and Katharina Hochmeir in the last four to navigate their way to another final in La Nucia.
But they were unable to clinch the coveted trophy and rack up a second tournament win in six weeks as their unseeded opponents came out on top in a thrilling deciding rubber.
The mixed doubles wasn’t the only format Pugh impressed in during the tournament, with the Telford ace also reaching the semi-finals of the women’s equivalent alongside Jessica Hopton.
And Pugh and Hopton were knocked out in similarly gut-wrenching fashion in that competition as they succumbed to a tightly-fought 17-21 21-9 19-21 defeat against home favourites Paula Lopez and Lorena Uslé.
The English duo had stunned second seeds Teoh and Yap Ling in Friday’s quarter-finals but a date with the Spaniards on Saturday proved an unfortunate step too far.
Pugh and Hopton were one of three English pairings to be eliminated with a spot in the final looming, with men’s doubles duos Rory Easton and Zach Russ, and Matthew Clare and Ethan Van Leuwen, also reaching the last four.
Both pairs had impressed throughout the week but were unable to battle past their opponents and keep their Saturday hopes of glory alive.
Easton and Russ suffered a 21-13 21-16 defeat against French pair Lucas Corvee and Ronan Labar while Clare and Van Leuwen were beaten 21-11 21-11 by Malaysians Tee and Man Wei Chong.
Eleven English players descended on La Nucia for the tournament and while none were able to hoist the Spanish International trophy aloft, there were several other promising performances throughout the week.
Hemming and Steven Stallwood were toppled by Clare and Van Leuwen in a pulsating all-English last 16 affair while Abigail Holden was knocked out by Goh Jin Wei at the same stage in the women’s singles.
Freya Redfearn and Georgina Bland lost their last 32 matches against Eoon Qi Xuan and Lucia Rodriguez respectively, while Ethan Rose – partnered by Wales’ Aimie Whiteman – succumbed against Lopez and Alvaro Leal in the mixed doubles.
Young pair Rose, 18, and Joseph Waugh, 19, were unable to battle through qualification in the men’s singles but the future looks bright after an entertaining week of action for the English contingent in Spain.