English National Badminton Championships – Manchester 2013

English National Badminton Championships – Manchester 2013
Rajiv Ouseph produced another series of sublime performances at the English National Badminton Championships in Manchester to extend his record run of Men's Singles titles to six whilst Chris Langridge finished with two titles, Peter Mills and Sarah Walker claimed their first National crowns and the unlucky Marcus Ellis was left with two runners-up spots to show for his two finals.
 
Ouseph, the Men’s Singles defending champion was at his emphatic best in overcoming friend and former sparring partner Carl Baxter in their fifth consecutive final. Baxter was the last person to take a game off the top seed in the 2010 final but the unflappable Ouseph eased effortlessly to the title with a 30 minute 21-13 21-15 victory and now has his sights firmly set on Darren Hall's record total of 10 men's singles titles.
 
His triumph at National Cycling Centre was historical in that he became the first male player ever to win six singles titles in a row. In the 49-year history of the England National Championships, a couple of men, Roger Mills and Ray Stevens, have won three consecutive titles, and whilst Darren Hall holds the overall record of 10 titles in the late 1980s and early 1990s his most consecutive wins was four. Ouseph’s string of six in a row is unprecedented.
 
Ouseph is still only 26 and he said: "Yes, Darren's 10 is obviously a target but I will take it one year at a time.
 
"Next I am playing in the European Team Championships in Russia later this month. I know I am four short of 50 appearances but it would also be nice for the team to win a medal there."
 
Baxter, who now works as a trainee broker in the sport, recreation and entertainment team at AON in the City, was full of admiration for Ouseph. “Rajiv’s the full package, a top player,” said Baxter. “He can definitely pass 10; he’s young enough at 26.
 
“I’m not having a dig at the younger boys but he is simply so match better than the rest of us.
 
“I am doing a bit of work with Alex Lane and some of the other younger ones but there’s a long way to go to catch him up.”
 
The unfortunate quarter-final retirement of Elizabeth Cann through injury ensured that the championships were guaranteed a new name on the Women's Singles trophy. Third seed Sarah Walker, the 2011 runner-up, came from a game down to beat seventh seed Fontaine Chapman 11-21 21-18 21-18 despite having trailed 11-8 at the change of ends in the final game.
 
With the players level at 15-15 the 23-year-old eventually edged her way to the title.
 
Top seeds Chris Langridge and Heather Olver were the first on the podium on finals day as they took the Mixed Doubles title for the first time with an entertaining 21-14 24-22 victory over Marcus Ellis and Alyssa Lim, who were also appearing in their first final.
 
Ellis and Lim looked to have levelled the match when they led 20-15 in the second game but let slip seven game points before Langridge and Olver took the contest on their first match point after 52 minutes.
 
In the Women's Doubles Gabby White made it four titles in a row as she and new partner Lauren Smith defeated Olver and Mariana Agathangelou, who have now lost four years in a row.
 
The second seeds' 21-9 21-9 win made Smith the first Cumbrian to win an English National title since Margaret Beck in 1975. White became the first player to win four women's doubles titles in a row since Gillian Clark in 1990, a record sequence first set by Margaret Boxall in 1970.
 
Arguably the best final of the championships was the last one with Langridge and Peter Mills making up for last year's disappointment when they lost to Chris Adcock and Andy Ellis by beating Adcock and Ellis's stand-in Marcus Ellis to lift the Men’s Doubles trophy.
 
Langridge and Mills came from a game down to win 13-21 21-16 22-20 in a match with a dramatic finale. Adcock and Ellis saved a match point at 20-19 down then Ellis was service faulted and Langridge and Mills took the title at their second opportunity.
 
The English National Badminton Championships were staged at the National Cycling Centre for the ninth time in 10 years as part of a pioneering partnership between BADMINTON England and Manchester City Council.
 
English National Badminton Championships, Manchester 2013
Men’s Singles: (1) Rajiv Ouseph bt (6) Carl Baxter 21-13 21-15
Women’s Singles: (3) Sarah Walker bt (7) Fontaine Chapman 11-21 21-18 21-18
Men’s Doubles: (2) Chris Langridge & Peter Mills bt Chris Adcock & Marcus Ellis 13-21 21-16 22-20
Women’s Doubles: (2) Lauren Smith & Gabby White bt Heather Olver & Mariana Agathangelou 21-9 11-5
Mixed Doubles: (1) Chris Langridge & Heather Olver bt (3) Marcus Ellis & Alyssa Lim 21-14 24-22

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