It has been an impressive season so far for French singles players on the Badminton Europe circuit. Lucas Claerbout has taken his game to a new level while Delphine Lansac (main picture) and Thomas Rouxel secured a bumper haul of singles gold medals for France last week in Warsaw.
All three will benefit from the familiar surrounds at the Orleans International this coming week and add into the mix the already established singles credentials of Brice Leverdez (left) and Lucas Corvee the French have a better chance than ever of home success.
Indeed, French success on home soil has been a rarity and since the tournaments inception in 2012 there has never been a home winner in any of the five categories. 2016 represents the best opportunity ever for home success with Leverdez likely to lead the charge as top seed in men’s singles.
A semi-final in Ireland and a win the following week in Italy just before Christmas represented the French number 1’s best run of form this past year but the home fans will hope that Leverdez can find the form that Leverdez displayed in helping France to a silver medal in Kazan last month in the European men’s team championship.
Denmark sends both Rasmus Fladberg and Emil Holst to Orleans this week and both will be a viable threat to the podium. Others with a point to prove and points to collect, namely Lang, Tan and Martins are all likely to figure if the French slip up.
Lansac will have the eyes of the nation on her this week after her victory last week. A spot at the Olympics is almost secured which should take the pressure of the French number 1. Like last week Konon and Schnaase will be sniffing out success in their private battle while once again World Junior Champion Jin Wei Goh will be gunning to put her defeat in Warsaw last week behind her.
Defending champions living by memory
With just two of the five defending champions travelling to Orleans this week it will a big task for either to go back to back with titles as Corrales, Blair/Bankier & Cwalina/Wacha have done in previous years.
Cwalina and Wacha had the opportunity for a hat trick of French success last year only to be beaten by Nottingham and Towler (above) in the final. Both are back this year once again and for the English they are certainly living by the memories of last year’s victory. The twelve months since has been an injury ridden roller coaster for Towler and the courts in Orleans should offer some solace as the English pair continue their comeback.
As always for the Poles is a simple case of hunting down every single valuable point for Olympic qualification as we round the bend into the home straight with Rio the carrot in the distance.
Danes Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak (left) are another defending pair and like the English men’s doubles had some injury frustrations to deal with this past year. The Danes have had two wins since their victory last year and will be one of the clear favourites again this week.
Durkin and Vislova head the mixed seeding’s while the home supporters will look to Mittelheisser/Fontaine and Mittelheisser/Kersaudy in both mixed and doubles for home success. Watch out for Lane and Pugh in the mixed doubles also. It will be the English pairs first trip to French soil since the announcement of their wild card for the European championships which comes up at the end of April.
For all draws for this week’s Orleans International click HERE
To see the list of all previous winners in Orleans click HERE
To watch all the action from court 1 this week at the Orleans International click HERE
Article and Images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe