Badminton Life

Singles Joy For Middlesex

The Mens final of the English National Badminton Championships had a very Middlesex feel about it as both finalists came from that area.

Eventual champion Rajiv Ouseph became only the counties second victor and to do so, he defeated Middlesex's first every National champion Aamir Ghaffar. The two men played out the climax of the weekend which had been held in a sold out Velodrome arena in Manchester.

Ouseph had been defeated in three previous semi-finals before this year so his relief at even reaching the final was palpable and no doubt finally getting the semi-final monkey off his back allowed him to relax and triumph 21-15, 12-21, 21-11.

The nature of defeat was slightly cruel on Ghaffar who battled back tremendously in the second set but it appears that this effort took a lot out of him and he could only watch at the 22 year old, who is also a former European Junior Champion, held his nerve and triumphed convincingly in the final set.

Ghaffars chances of victory in the final weren't helped by his epic semi-final match-up with Nathan Rice, which lasted 62 minutes, the longest game of the Championships. In the semi finals, Ghaffar was able to come from behind as his 15-21, 21-12, 21-18 scoreline suggests but when it came to the final, he ran out of steam as Ouseph powered away in the final set.

There was even more for Middlesex to celebrate in the Womens Singles Tournament as Elizabeth Cann who was starring for the county at this tournament, triumphed yet again in Manchester. The 2008 Womens Singles was Cann's third title and her victory over Hallam cemented her good run of form of late. In a repeat of the 2005 Womens Singles tournament, Cann romped home in straight sets over Hallam with the margin of victory being 21-15, 21-19.

Cann has now risen to the rank of 30th in the world standings, not only helped by this triumph but with other strong finishes in Scotland and Ireland. Cann finished second in the Scottish open and took home the Irish open title so it is obvious her current form is impressive but she sees no reason to rest upon her laurels.

"My best is Number 19 (in the world.) I just seem to get better and better as this season has gone on" said the champion and on current form, who would bet against her reaching her previous personal best again?

For some observers, the Singles tournaments take a back seat in comparison with the Doubles tournaments but this year, its is obvious that no one in Middlesex will be thinking that is the case. With three of the four finalists, the county has had a tremendous start to 2008 and will no doubt be looking for more of its stars throughout the year and hopefully see a spin-off in the number of youngsters who are wanting to play the game.

Any period of sustained success can only be good for rearing younger players in the game and Middlesex may be well placed to reap the benefits of a very successful tournament.

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