2016 has been a coming of age year for England’s young gun pairing of Jessica Pugh and Ben Lane (main picture). After settling into senior life with relative ease the English pair verified their status as one of the emerging young mixed doubles pairings from Europe with a wildcard selection for their first European championships in France.
The English continued their rise up the pecking order of English and European mixed doubles today in Madrid winning the Spanish International title, their first International Challenge win on the Badminton Europe circuit.
The English has set their stall out early in the competition beating one of the fancied French pairs, Labar and Fontaine in three games in the quarter final. In today’s final the English once again dealt the killer blow to the French beating Mittelheisser and Lefel in the final in three games.
The French has beaten top seeds and second in the BEC circuit rankings, Christiansen and Grebak of Denmark in the quarter finals which serves as confirmation of the outstanding form of Lane and Pugh this week in Madrid.
“So happy that we've won our first IC title!! And a great way to end the season! We showed a good level this week and over the moon with the result! It's great to see things we've been working on in training come into tournaments and pay off!”
commented Pugh on her facebook page after lifting the Spanish title.
Antonsen’s win seals circuit rankings top spot
Just a mere 15 months ago Anders Antonsen (pictured above) was winning the European junior title in Poland. Who would have predicted what would follow as the young Dane came, played and conquered all before him on the Badminton Europe circuit claiming 5 wins in an amazing season.
Antonsen followed up his wins in Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and Austria with a win today at the Spanish International to seal the top spot on the Badminton Europe circuit rankings.
The young Dane was taken the distance in today’s final against Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama and was a set down and staring defeat in the face trailing 19-17 in the second game before fighting back to win the title in three games.
What was more remarkable about the Danes 5th title of the season was the quality of player he defeated on his way to the title. Clearbout, Persson, Pawar and top seed Pablo Abian all succumbed to the silky skills of the Dane who is without doubt Denmark and Europe’s big hope for the future with the badminton world at his feet.
After Abian’s defeat in the men’s singles semi-final the home fans were banking on some home success with Beatriz Corrales in the final of the women’s singles. Corrales had been in excellent form all week and had not dropped a set on her march to the final.
The final itself proved to be forgetful for the now Milan based Spaniard who lost out in two games to Japan’s Auymi Mine in two games, The Japanese shuttler not dropping a set the whole week herself on her march to the title.
Japan rounded off a good day for the Asian powerhouse nation by lifting both the women’s doubles and the final men’s doubles as top seeded Danes Daugaard and Christiansen fell to Hoki and Kobayashi in two games 21-10 21-6.
For all the results from the finals of the 2016 Spanish International click HERE
For the European Circuit rankings for the 2015/2016 season click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe