Suffolk Saxons dominate Surrey Smashers side packed with Olympic badminton talent in home debut 4-1 win
- Credit: sarah lucy brown
It was a night to remember for Suffolk’s first professional badminton team as they recorded a hard-fought home victory over an opposition side containing three Olympians.
The Suffolk Saxons played their first ever home fixture at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange this evening (November 7) and, despite being underdogs, put on a show to wow the capacity crowd and wrap up the evening after four of the five events against the Surrey Smashers.
With the men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and the mixed doubles, all best of five matches with teams trying to be the first to race to nine points (five in the case of a tie-break fifth game) the action was fast and furious throughout the evening.
Opening the play was mixed doubles duo Sean Vendy and Zoe King. They had the unenviable task of taking on Team GB stars Chris Langridge and Gabby Adcock, both of whom competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The first game was a short one, Langridge and Adcock making it 1-0 with a 9-3 win, but the home pair rallied in the second game to level the match one-all to chants of “Saxons, Saxons” from the Suffolk supporters.
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The third game was closer but ended in the Surrey win, Langridge and Adcock then quickly seeing the fourth game out 9-2 to take the first point of the fixture.
The battle of the Danish ladies was next, Julie Finne-Ipsen taking on Line Kjaersfeldt in the women’s singles.
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Finne-Ipsen got the better of her compatriot with relative ease in the first game, winning 9-4, but lost by the same scoreline after the first change of ends.
However she stayed strong and went behind only once in the third set which she won 9-6.
Holding her nerve, Finne-Ipsen engaged in some tough rallies with Kjaersfeldt and, despite losing a power play, recorded another 9-4 victory to take the match and level the overall score at 1-1.
Joel Douse was up next for the Saxons, taking on Sam Parsons in the men’s singles.
It was 1-1 after two games, Douse taking the first 9-4 but falling onto the back foot early in the second to give Parsons an advantage he did not relinquish.
Power plays – a one-use-per-match-boost where the server can gain two points if he wins the rally while only surrendering one if he loses – effectively decided the match in the third and fourth games.
After some powerful and intense rallies Douse played his at 7-6 up in the third, winning the point and moving 2-1 ahead.
Towards the end of a nip-and-tuck fourth game Parson activated his power play – marked by the use of a pinked-ended shuttlecock – when 8-7 down, but lost what was effectively the deciding rally and handed the match to a delighted Douse.
A win in the women’s doubles would seal the fixture for Saxons, Finne-Ipsen returning with Sarah Walker has her partner, taking on Adcock and Sophie Brown.
Again it was 1-1 after two games, the Saxons duo relinquishing their initial lead after a couple of mistakes let Surrey back in.
The third and fourth games saw some of the best rallies of the evening though, pulling Adcock and Brown all over the court to record back-to-back game wins thanks to clever power play in the fourth.
With the fixture secured at 3-1 it fell to the men’s doubles team of Vendy and Andy Ellis to wrap up the action.
All points count in the AJ Bell National Badminton League so they took on Langridge and Tom Wolfenden with serious intent.
The first game went the way of the Saxons 9-6. The second was much closer – at 8-8 it could have been either side’s, but home advantage helped the Saxons through.
A surge in the next game prevented a 3-0 whitewash, Saxons losing their power play and going down 7-9, but Surrey returned the favour at 8-7 in the next game.
Two points would have sealed it for the visitors but Ellis and Vendy came out on top to make it a memorable first home fixture for Suffolk.
For a full report and reaction from the team, see Wednesday’s paper.