Back-to-back wins and second place in the AJ Bell NBL delight Suffolk Saxons coach Anthony Clarke
- Credit: Su Anderson
Anthony Clarke has said the start to his team’s debut season in the National Badminton League has been “crazy” – but is delighted with their performances.
The Suffolk Saxons were only formed earlier this year as a professional outfit and stepped into the highly competitive AJ Bell NBL at the start of October.
Their first match ended in a 4-1 defeat – though Clarke has highlighted some extenuating circumstances – but since then have refused to lose.
A 4-1 win against Surrey Smashers in the Saxons’ first home match at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange on November 7 was followed by a thrilling battle at Loughborough Lightning on Monday.
The 3-2 win for the visitors was a showcase for the league’s competitiveness (twice Saxons players battled back from 2-0 down to win events) and will have extended highlights screened on BT Sport tonight.
You may also want to watch:
“It’s been a crazy start to be honest,” Clarke said. “I’m over the moon with the way it’s gone.
“We were very disappointed in the very first match that four of our players couldn’t play because of the Danish Open.”
- 1 Suffolk actress Helen McCrory dies following cancer battle
- 2 Frustrated Suffolk farmer returns dumped items to householders
- 3 'I will be like Demolition Man... there will be a lot of pain' - Cook on his Town squad overhaul
- 4 Matchday Live: Updates as Town travel to The Valley to face Charlton
- 5 'It was a tiny step forwards' - Cook on 0-0 draw at Charlton
- 6 Death of 'loving' Suffolk woman in crash was 'unmitigated tragedy'
- 7 Cook discusses Chambers' future after captain dropped at Charlton
- 8 12 villages set to receive some of UK's fastest ever broadband
- 9 Why are 3,500 homes stood empty in Suffolk?
- 10 Rise in number of Covid patients in Suffolk and north Essex hospitals
But he added: “Having taken out two of the best teams in the league is amazing. Going away to Loughborough I was expecting a really tough match.”
The Saxons laid on free coach travel for fans following the team to Loughborough and Clarke praised their support, saying he expected the home crowd to pull their players over the line when actually it was the travelling fans who made the most noise.
The Suffolk side maintained second place in the league having played half of their six fixtures for the season – though some teams below them have a game in hand – but Clarke said things could have been different if they had been able to field a full strength team against now-league leaders Birmingham.
“Birmingham Lions had their full team out when we played them. We took a 4-1 hit in that match and we’re only one point behind them.
“It could have been very different, we could have been top. We’re just very proud of where we are right now.”
Clarke also had praise for new signing, 17-year-old Fee Teng Liew, who played her first match for the Saxons in the mixed doubles with Sean Vendy – one of the events where the team won three straight matches from 2-0 down for a victory.
“She took the final match of the night,” Clarke said. “She looked nervous to start with but that’s understandable. There is pressure with the NBL because it is a short game.”
Along with Vendy and Liew’s 3-2 win in the mixed doubles on Monday there were triumphs from Julie Finne-Ipsen in the women’s singles, and Sarah Walker and Finne-Ipsen in the women’s doubles.
Next up for the Saxons is a home tie against bottom-of-the-table Bristol Jets, the league’s other new team this season.
Clarke said: “We are looking to try and win again, of course. Our home crowd were wonderful on the first night and we’re expecting more people to come this time.”