Defending a title is no mean feat but Chloe Birch successfully defended both her women’s singles and doubles titles at the English National Badminton Championships in Winchester.
The 24-year-old tasted victory in the first final of the day as she defeated Freya Redfearn to win her fourth singles title in a row.
In a close contest Birch showed her experience over the young star, who was competing in the final for the first time, to triumph in two games – 21-12 21-17.
Birch had already taken to the court before her singles final, as she teamed up with Lauren Smith in the semi-finals of the doubles.
The top seeds advanced to the final with a straightforward 21-10 21-13 win over Jessica Hopton and Hope Warner.
After her gold medal exploits in the singles, Birch returned with Smith but the doubles final wasn’t as clear-cut.
Jenny Moore and Viki Williams put the pressure on and claimed the first game 21-12 but the defending champions fought back to win 12-12 21-18 21-11.
Birch said: “They made us work for it, and we just had to battle. After that first set, we knew we had to come out fighting and give everything.
“We did. We got ourselves back up to speed and back in the game. They played very well, we play each other in training a lot and all credit to them, they were really good today.
“It’s really nice to see family and friends. It’s always a special day and I think it’s important that we can play these events to give it our all and show what level we’re trying to compete at.
“I’m really happy to be here and even more happy to win.”
The victory ensured Smith etched her name into the record books as she clinched her eighth women’s doubles title – having not tasted defeat since 2012 – putting her level with Gillian Gowers.
Smith said: “That’s the hardest I’ve had to work here for a while. As Chloe said, they came out really strong and played tactically great.
“It hampered our attack and we weren’t able to get on the shuttle like we wanted to. It was a very hard-fought game and I’m happy to come out on top in the end.”
Alex Lane became a two-time men’s singles champion at the English Nationals as he beat Johnnie Torjussen 21-19 21-10 in the final.
The 2017 champion faced a tough test in the first game with neither player able to get momentum but Lane edged ahead in the closing stages and sealed the result in two games.
Lane said: “It feels really good, I think I had a difficult journey to the win here this week. I had three good players, so it feels good to get number two.
“The first game was tough for me; Johnnie came out really confident even from the first rally so I thought I did well to stick in there and managed to get the win.”
There was an amazing performance for Max Flynn and Fee Teng Liew in the mixed doubles as they clinched the crown in their first final.
After knocking out the 3/4 seeds in yesterday’s quarter-finals, the duo continued in resolute fashion and triumphed 21-11 21-19 over second seeds Tom Wolfenden and Moore.
Liew said: “We played so well. Yesterday we played quite well in the semi-finals so we just tried to keep that level and bring it forward to today.
Flynn added: “We’ve only just started playing together again over the past month so I hope it’s a sign of good things.”
In the last final of the day, Wolfenden bagged a title as he teamed up with Greg Mairs to win the men’s doubles.
It was a tense first game but the duo eventually got the better of Rory Easton and Ethan Van Leeuwen, beating them 18-21 21-13 21-12.
Wolfenden said: “It’s what we came here to do – to win a title – I was disappointed at the mixed doubles earlier, so wanted to come out here and get a win.
“Credit to the boys they played their part, we had to change our tactics after the first set but we’re happy to get the win.”
Mairs added: “I think in this game we felt under pressure and we weren’t really in the first set. If you’re a little bit off, they come at you and it’s dangerous. I’m really glad we could use our experience to get it over the line and turn it around.”
For results and more information on the English National Badminton Championships, visit badmintonengland.co.uk