Birch makes it 10 from 10 as Loughborough Sport beat MK Badminton
The final match night of the regular AJ Bell National Badminton League season saw Loughborough Sport break not one but two records as they secured a 4-1 victory.
Playing away at Milton Keynes, Chloe Birch won her tenth consecutive match, whilst the team ensured they won every game of the regular season, both feats being NBL records.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, as a five game thriller saw MK take an early lead after victory in the mixed doubles. Loughborough University students Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore have been in great form this season, but came unstuck in the fifth and deciding game against their Milton Keynes opposition after coming from 2-1 down to level at 2-2.
It was business as usual in the women’s doubles though as Lauren Smith and another Loughborough University student Viki Williams made light work of a 3-0 victory in the women’s doubles. Taking the first game 9-5, they didn’t hang around, playing some dominant badminton to take the remaining games 9-3 and 9-7.
The first game of the third event, the men’s singles, toed and froed before Loughborough star Henri Hurskainen drew first blood 9-5. Henri didn’t have it all his own way though, as at three-all his young opponent Sam Parsons ran away with the second game 9-3.
Henri still seemed rattled after a contentious decision in the second game, failing to gather himself and again succumbing 9-3. But a player of Henri’s quality wasn’t about to go down without a fight, taking the fourth game 9-5.
Just like Parsons did in the fourth, Henri used his Powerplay on the first point of the final set, but again like Parsons failed to convert it. Losing the next point meant it was event point Parsons, but Head Coach Andy Wood quickly called time-out.
And that it seemed was the catalyst as the Swedish star played a beautiful net cord to save the aforementioned event point, before winning the next four points to secure victory.
Next up in the penultimate event of the night was student Chloe Birch, who was looking to win her tenth NBL match in a row! Having won her previous nine AJ Bell National Badminton League events, few would have bet against her, and she didn’t disappoint, taking a 3-0 win against MK Badminton’s Clara Nistad.
Taking the first game 9-5, Birch looked at her imperious best winning the next game 9-1. Nistad tried to fight back, but Birch was just too strong, taking the final game 9-7. She’ll now look to keep her unbeaten run going on Finals Day.
“It’s really nice to win ten in a row! No one has done it in the NBL, so yeah, it’s been great to get those wins for Loughborough Sport and really boss the league this year.
"We’ve got the team to go all the way, and we’ve shown all year that we can do it, as we’ve beaten every single team. We’ll go to the finals with confidence and I fully believe Loughborough Sport will win the title this year.”
Finally taking to court were Harley Towler and Peter Briggs, who have become well-known for their five game thrillers. Thankfully, despite a very close men’s doubles event, they ran out 3-1 winners, winning 9-8, 9-7, 5-9, 9-5.
Table topping Loughborough Sport now head west to Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena for the Championship Finals on Sunday 8th May. Get your tickets for that one here: http://tickets.sky.com/Badminton/AJ-Bell-NBL-Finals-Day---The-Ultimate-Smashdown