Wales retains Challenge status
Date: 11/27/2013 11:23 AM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

Less than 24 hours until Day 1 of the Yonex Welsh International Badminton Championships (27th-30th November) and Badminton Wales are looking forward to hosting yet another International Challenge at the home of Welsh Sport, the Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff.

Badminton Wales are delighted to have maintained the Challenge status this year along with the accompanying $15,000 total prize money. Events Organiser James Phillips says,

'It was really important for us to retain the Challenge status this year especially considering the success of last year’s event. Whilst our event has always attracted some great players, the inaugural Challenger saw players ranked in the world’s top 20-40 competing across the various disciplines which was brilliant not only for the spectators but also for the event going forward. This year is an even bigger spectacle with even more of the world’s best attending the event.'

This year sees an increase in entries across the board especially from Commonwealth countries with players hoping to secure enough ranking points to confirm their place at the eagerly anticipated Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014.

Spaniard Beatriz Corrales (#31) will feature in the Women’s Singles event whilst the Men’s Singles event has attracted Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen (#43), Dmytro Zavadsky of Ukraine (#44) and Malaysia’s Misbun Ramdan Mohmed Misbun (#46). The Men’s Doubles event is strong and contains pairs in the world’s top 30 including world No.21 Chris Langridge and Peter Mills of England (#21). Not to be outdone, the Women’s Doubles event also sees pairs within the world’s top 30 in USA’s Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana (#22) and England’s Heather Olver and Kate Robertshaw (#25). In the mixed event, world no. 19 England’s Chris Langridge and Heather Olver are competing as well as world No. 34 Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova of Russia.

8 Welsh players will play their home event including a number of senior international players who are hoping to clock up valuable ranking points in a bid to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

Joe Morgan and Nic Strange, who have reached two BEC finals this season, will be looking for another strong performance after achieving a semi-finals place in last year’s tournament. Morgan says,

‘After a long season abroad trying to qualify for Glasgow 2014 it’s great to have the opportunity to compete at your home venue. The support gives you a real boost which will spur us on to hopefully achieve good results.’

Dan Font will be looking to progress through the rounds of the Men’s singles on the back of reaching the quarter finals at the Bahrain International Challenge. Unfortunately, Font’s doubles partner (and Sarah Thomas’ mixed partner) Oliver Gwilt is in the latter stages of recovery from injury and so will miss his home event. Font will be playing at the international in the Men’s doubles event with Scotland’s Michael Campbell. Font says of the event,

'As always, I am looking forward to the Welsh International however it's a shame that my regular doubles partner Oliver Gwilt is still recovering from injury and isn't able to play. Last year's upgrade to a challenger level event has really brought in some of the best players from across the world this year. Of course this means it will be tough but I'm hoping that the home crowd realise how important their support is and that I can reward them with some hard fought matches.'

Carissa Turner will be striving to better the quarter final place she earned in last year’s Women’s singles event and will also be looking to progress to the latter stages of the ladies doubles event with partner, Sarah Thomas. Thomas will partner up with Font in the mixed doubles as they have done on a couple of occasions already this season.

‘I'm really looking forward to playing the Welsh International. It's always a great chance to get some results on home ground but especially this year with it being in the Commonwealth Games qualifying period,’ stated Thomas.

Turner added,
‘The Welsh International is always a special tournament but it also comes with added pressure. It's very strong this year which is great because there will be a lot more competitive matches to be seen. I'm hoping to do well on home soil.’

The draw for this year’s Championships makes for great reading with many thrilling first round and potential second round battles.

In the men’s singles Scotland’s Kieran Merrilees will contest a difficult first round match against England’s Rhys Walker whilst 4th seed Joachim Persson (DEN) could meet Spain’s Pablo Abian in the second round. The men’s doubles promises a gripping first round clash between Daniel Benz (DEN) and partner Kwong Beng Chan (MAS) and Russian pairing Andrej Ashmarin and Vitalij Durkin. A challenging first round match awaits 4th seeds Anna Rankin and Madeleine Stapleton (NZL) in the women’s doubles against the unseeded pair of Imogen Bankier and Kirsty Gilmour (SCO). In the Women’s singles both No1 seed Beatriz Corrales (SPA) faces Russian opposition in Ella Diehl. In the mixed doubles, 5th seeds Ross Smith and Renuga Veeran (AUS) have drawn England’s Gary Fox and Sophie Brown which promises to be a closely fought encounter.

Check out the Men's Singles draw

From a Welsh perspective, in the women’s singles qualification, 5th qualification seed Aimee Moran will face Sarah Preece (ENG) in round one whereas Jordan Hart will play 7th qualification seed Elizabeth Cann (ENG). In the main draw, Carissa Turner meets Matilda Petersen (SWE) and could encounter a tough second round match in the form of 4th seed Russia’s Natalia Perminova.

In the first round of the men’s singles, Dan Font will tackle the 7th Qualifier and may have to contend with 2nd seed Dmytro Zavadsky (UKR) in the second round. In qualification, Michael Kinnear’s first round match will see him play Andrew Kindred (ENG).

Check out the Women's Singles draw

The men’s doubles sees 8th seeds Joe Morgan and Nic Strange facing Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh (SCO) in the first round. The pairs have already played each other in two finals over the past two seasons and at the moment stand at 1 match all, making for an exciting contest. In the Women’s doubles, Sarah Thomas and Carissa Turner will play Ira Banerjee and Jessica Pugh (ENG) and could meet 5th seeds Indonesia’s Keshya Nurvita Hanadia and Devi Tika Permatasari in the second round.

Check out the Men's Doubles draw

Dan Font and Sarah Thomas are 1st qualification seeds in the mixed doubles and will play Martin Drabble and Georgina Bland (ENG) whereas 2nd qualification seeds Aimee Moran and her partner Conor Bambrick (ENG) have been drawn against Joshua Young and Zoe Hallam (ENG). Nic Strange and Jordan Hart will tackle English 4th qualification seeds Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh in their first round match.

Check out the Mixed Doubles draw

Badminton Wales is delighted with the high calibre and number of entries for this year’s Championships and look forward to hosting an exciting tournament.

Go to tournamentsoftware for full draws including live scoring

Article and photos by Laura Cairns.

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