Badminton Life

Excitment Builds for the English National Badminton Championships

The draw has taken place for the English National Badminton Championship, being held in Manchesters Velodrome starting on the 1st of February and some tough-ties have served up some exiting prospects for the weekends action.

Three times runner up Jill Pittard was probably looking forward to having some luck on her side in her attempt to finally clinch the title but her route to the final looks likely to be blocked by top seed Tracey Hallam in the semi-finals if both players negotiate the opening days activities. Its fair to say that Pittard could have had an easier passage but before the tie against Hallam materialises, she will have to overcome Rebecca Pantaney on the Friday schedule.

And if Pittard is bemoaning her luck, then at least she starts off the campaign with a bye, a luxury that is also afforded to Hallan and current title holder Elizabeth Cann as the Womens Singles tournament offers some respite.

There are no byes in theMens competition and last years runner-up Nathan Rice kicks off his campaign with a tie against Jack Molyneux and should he be successful in that pairing, will likely come up against Aamir Ghaffar who was won the National Championships twice in Manchester before. In addition to this, Ghaffar was victorious in the Elite Open at Wimbledon last week and appears to be in a good vein of form for this Championship.

Elsewhere in the Mens Singles competition, top seed Rajiv Ouseph will open up against Handal Suryputra and if he can emerge victorious from that game, he may come up against players the calibre of Mark Constable or Toby Honey, who is currently unseeded but is a former England squad member.

Its easy to see why the tournament generates so much excitement as even a list of injuries to some big names has done little to diminish the appeal of the tournament and an exciting weekend of Badminton awaits the lucky spectators who have tickets for the event in Manchester.

Another star battling with injury in an attempt to compete in the tournament is Gail Emms who missed out on last weeks Korean Open due to illness. If Emms overcomes her bout of illness, she will again team up with Donna Kellog in the Womens Doubles events as the current holders and European champions start their defence against the already mentioned Pantaney and Sarah Burgess.

Like the Womens Singles competition, the Mixed Doubles offers some byes and the lucky recipients include Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, illness permitting and Donna Kellog with Anthony Clark. Given that both teams contested last years final, there will be high expectation of these teams getting there again with Clark and Kellogg aiming to retain their hard fought title.

And although Clark and Robertson may be fierce enemies in the Mixed Doubles competition, they will be pairing up in the Mens Doubles tournament in an attempt to win the tournament they have triumphed in 3 times previously. With so many games and expectations on their shoulders, the duo will no doubt be glad of the bye they have received to the next round where they are likely to face Matthew Honey and Peter Mills in an intriguing contest.

With so many interesting matches and so many subplots and possible flash points, the English National Championships looks likely to be an explosive affair and the majority of contenders will be glad the waiting is nearly over.

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