NATIONALS ROUND-UP – 9 in a row for Clark

With the break in international competition it was time for badminton professionals all over Europe to concentrate on their respective national titles with honours up for grabs in England, Denmark, […]


With the break in international competition it was time for badminton professionals all over Europe to concentrate on their respective titles with honours up for grabs in England, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Ireland to name but a few. Most professionals would be somewhat content with one title in their careers but this past week witnessed many historic milestones and none greater that Anthony Clark’s 9th men’s doubles title in a row in England.

By: Mark Phelan.  Photos: (Live)

As a hectic January and February drew to a close most badminton fans had a break between Super Series events with the annual lull between the opening salvoes in Asia and the March instalments on the European leg of the Super Series tour. Not the players though, as they had the matter of their own national titles at stake, which for many is as important as any international competition and an immense source of pride in the build up to next month’s All England’s in Birmingham.

In England all eyes were on the men’s doubles as Robertson and Clark were attempting to win their sixth title together and for Clark a record breaking ninth men’s doubles title in a row. In a repeat of last year’s final Robertson and Clark overcame the stiff challenge of Robert Blair and Chris Adcock in two sets 21-14 21-19.
Clark said: “When I was a young player of 16 I used to watch players like Simon Archer and Chris Hunt and dream about winning this title just once. I can’t believe I have had this success. I’ve had some great partners over the years. I always look upon the Nationals as the stepping stone to get the season started and now we have the All England in Birmingham next month and the Europeans here in Manchester in April to look forward to. I hope we can push on from here.”

In the men’s singles Rajiv Ouseph reasserted his dominance as he took his third title in a row as he beat Carl Baxter in three sets 21-15, 13-21, 21-7.

“I’m really happy. Carl played really well in the middle of the match so I was pleased to come through it. Now I’ve got the Thomas Cup, the All England and the Europeans to look forward to,”said Ouseph after his victory.

In the women’s singles Elizabeth Cann made up for her final defeat last year but had to battle back to save three game points against Helen Davis to claim her fourth national title 23-21, 21-15.

Yorkshire’s Jenny Wallwork (pictured above with Gabby White)claimed two titles as she landed the mixed with partner Nathan Robertson along with the Women’s doubles with Gabby White. The biggest loser on the day was Heather Olver as she missed out on both the women’s doubles and mixed titles with new partner Anthony Clark.

In Denmark it was pretty much business as usual for all the top seeds. Peter Gade once again proved he still has what it takes as he fended off the challenge of Jan O Jorgensen in the final. Tine Rasmussen didn’t drop a set en route to yet another national title and there were national titles for Boe and Mogensen in the men’s doubles, Mikkel Delbo, who was without regular partner Mie Schjoett due to injury, and Mette Schjoldager in the mixed and following from their recent success in Sweden Helle Nielsen and Marie Ropke took top honours in the women’s doubles.
There were records broken in France too as Pi Hongyan stretched her unbeaten nationals run to 6 as she claimed the women’s singles title in two sets against Perrine Lebuhanic 21-8 21-19.

“It was more difficult than other times because I’m in the middle of my preparation for the Swiss and All England and I felt heavy on court all week. But Perrine was eager to play beat me. She played very well and I was ready for a third game, but unfortunately for her, she served long for the match point”,said Pi Hongyan, who made known her new ambassadorship of SOLIBAD – Badminton Without Borders, which was launched in France this week-end before an international launch next March during the Yonex all England.

The surprise of the championships came with the victory of retired players Kelhoffner and Stoyanoinv (pictured above right)in the men’s doubles. The pair who last played together in the European Championships to claim bronze in 2008 defeated France’s number 1 pair of Careme/Grosjean in 2 sets.

Brice Leverdez had little problem seeing off the challenge of Lo Ying Ping in the men’s singles 21-11, 21-10 as the mixed title went to Choinet and Careme as they overcame the persistent challenge of Eymard and Grosjean 21-19, 21-10. Indeed there was double celebration for Choinet as she and partner Weny Rahmawati beat Chanteur and Matias in the women’s doubles again in a two set final.

As in Denmark with the rise to fame of 16-year-old Viktor Axelsen, 16-year-old Lea Palermo’s (pictured left) rose to prominence in France with bronze medal in both in WS and WD as the tender age of 16.

In The Netherlands there were national titles for Yao Jie in the women’s singles as her opponent Judith Meulendijks was forced to retire in the second set after a seemingly hectic finals day schedule. “We had the most insane schedule for the Sunday. We played semi final in Ladies singles which took 1 hour with a 20min break before semi in ladies’ doubles which also took 1 hour and then about 45min after we had to play ladies’ singles final. I just got cramp in both calves, I tried to continue, but had to stop half way through the 2nd game,”said Meulendijks.
Eric Pang reversed the seeding to beat Dicky Palyama in two extremely close sets 21-19, 22-20 while Lotte Jonathans and Pauline VanDooremalen beat Barning and Muskins in the battle of experience versus youth to claim the women’s doubles title.

Jorrit De Ruiter was unsuccessful in both the men’s and mixed finals as the national titles went to Arends and Mass in the men’s and Khodabux and Barning in the mixed.

In Germany, Marc Zwiebler (pictured right) confirmed his current form both nationally and internationally as he cruised to a 2 set win over Dieter Domke to claim his fourth national title.

“Dieter Domke is the only German player I have lost against in the last 5 years so from the start i was concentrated and focused and did not let him play his aggressive game. Only at the end did I get a bit nervous but I had enough of a lead to see it through to the end”said Zwiebler after his victory.

There were easy 2 set wins for Juliane Schenk in the women’s singles as she re confirmed her dominance in the female singles event in Germany. Birgit Overzier walked away with two titles in the mixed with Ingo Kindervarter and the more expected women’s doubles title with Sandra Marinello. In the battle of the experienced for the men’s doubles title it was Hopp and Schottler who reigned supreme over Kindervarter and Fuchs.

dm10-img_40152Probably the biggest story of the German Nationals weekend was the trip to the semi final of Nikolaj Persson (pictured bottom left), the 18 year old brother of Joachim Persson the Danish ace shuttler (can you see the resemblance?). Persson beat seven time German champion Bjorn Joppien in the quarter final before finally falling to Dieter Domke at semi final stage.

In Poland, there were no surprises as Wacha and Augustyn won the singles events, Logosz and Mateusiak claimed yet another men’s doubles national title and Augustyn was successful in the women’s doubles event with partner Kostiuczyk. Meanwhile Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk lifted the mixed crown as expected.

Finally in Ireland Scott Evans set a record as he won his 5th national title in a row in Lisburn and did it all without dropping a single set. The Dubliner only dropped a maximum of 14 points in any one set throughout the competition on his way to the national crown and he will lead the Irish team in Warsaw in the coming weeks. Sam and Chloe Magee won 2 titles each as expected as both combined to take the mixed title along with the women’s singles for Chloe and the men’s doubles for Sam.

About Mark Phelan