The Saxons, sponsored by the University of Suffolk, produced a remarkable 4-1 winning score line that was well deserved. Every match however stretched the nerve of the fantastic home supporters who were treated to a series of high quality and intense badminton, with this form of the game living up to its fast and furious brand.
Saxons Head Coach Anthony Clark, who surprisingly left himself out of this fixture after a fine win in Birmingham, had stated that his squad were “battlers” and suggested the Saxons would “hustle the Smashers and make them work hard for their points”. On the evidence of last night Clark got his team and tactics spot on against a Smashers side fielding three Rio Olympians and a World Series winner in Gabby Adcock.
The evening began with a mixed doubles fixture featuring Adcock, paired with Chris Langridge, bronze medallist from Rio. The youthful Saxons pair of Sean Vendy and Zoe King performed above expectation to take the Olympians to the brink of a fifth set before falling to the experience of the top GB pair.
This early lead for the Smashers failed to dampen the volume of the Saxons crowd and debutant Julie Finne Ipsen, proceeded to whip up even more noise in what was the first of two inspired performances by the young Dane. In this key singles match against highly ranked compatriot Line Kjaersfeldt the Saxon maintained a high intensity attacking game to delight the fans and secure a 3-1 victory.
There was more excitement to follow as rising star Joel Douse rewrote the form book with a power display against Smasher’s Sam Parson’s. In a near perfect game plan Douse recovered from a period of Parsons’ domination to clinch victory, with clever use of the power play bonus point and superb offensive tactics.
The momentum was with Saxons and it was left to Julie Finne Ipsen and Sarah Walker, to produce a match winning performance against a top NBL pair in Gabby Adcock and Sophie. Tight games, and long rallies tested the defences of both pairs, but in truth the Saxons pair were never going to give this game up and in clinching a 9-8 third set demonstrated great technique under pressure. On this form Walker and Ipsen are going to be a tough pair to beat and the crowd rose to mark a landmark victory for the Saxons.
There are however no dead rubbers in the AJ Bell NBL as every point counts in the league positioning. Andy Ellis had been disappointed with his game last month in Birmingham, but in this match the Saxons fans saw the real deal. The men’s doubles pitched Ellis and the inspired Vendy up against Langridge and Wolfenden. A wonderfully tight and tense match full of quality was the result with each set closely contested. It was Ellis and Vendy who stepped up though to claim an important fourth point that the team deserved.
Saxons will travel to Loughborough later this month and the next home match will take place at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on 5 December when another full house is expected. Tickets are available on the Corn Exchange ticket office from today: http://bit.ly/2fyRmXe
AJBell National Badminton League result:
Suffolk Saxons 4 Surrey Smashers 1
Suffolk Saxons v Surrey Smashers scores:
Sean Vendy & Zoe King lost to Chris Langridge & Gabby Adcock: 3-9, 9-4, 7-9,2-9
Julie Finne Ipsen beat Line Kjaersfeldt 9-4,4-9,9-6,9-4
Joel Douse beat Sam Parsons 9-4,7-9,9-6, 9-7
Sarah Walker & Julie Finne Ipsen beat Gabby Adcock & Sophie Thomas 9-5, 6-9, 9-8, 9-5
Andy Ellis & Sean Vendy beat Chris Langridge & Tom Wolfenden 9-6, 9-8, 7-9, 9-7