Sam Parsons applauds the home crowd. Credit Gary Baker
Surrey Smashers returned to winning ways on match-night 3 of the 2016/17 AJ Bell National Badminton League season with a fine 3-2 win over University of Nottingham Sport.
Badminton fans were treated to a night of world-class action at Surrey Sports Park as a total of five Olympians hit the court, including two with medals to their name, as Smashers breathed a sigh of relief to finally get their first win of the season.
Women's Doubles: Gabby Adcock/Sophie Brown 3-0 Jess Pugh/Nina Vislova (9-7 9-7 9-8)
A quick start from the Notts pair, including London 2012 bronze winner Vislova, saw the visitors rush to a 1-4 lead but it didn't take long for Adcock and Brown to gain control of the game and win it 9-7.
Smashers cruised to a 5-1 lead in the second only for Notts to briefly halt the charge. Their efforts weren't enough to prevent Surrey from taking the point before going on to comfortably complete the match win and open the night with a 1-0 home lead.
Men's Singles: Sam Parsons 3-2 Kieran Merrilees (9-6 9-6 0-9 1-9 5-3)
On paper, world top 70 Scotsman Merrilees looked like an overwhelming favourite against the young Smasher, but it was Parsons who maintained firm control across the first two games to take a shock 2-0 lead.
Parsons' solid start came completely undone in the following two games as Merrilees' experience shone through to secure 15 straight points. The home crowd roared as Sam took a single point in game 4, but a tie breaker loomed to decide who would take the match win.
Merrilees elected the Power Play shuttle to open the set, which was well defended by Parsons who went on to take a 3-1 lead. A standing ovation followed for Sam though, as he went on to secure his first win in a Smashers shirt with an incredibly mature performance.
Men's Doubles: Chris Langridge/Dean George 2-3 Chris Adcock/Adam Cwalina (6-9 9-6 7-9 9-6 1-4)
Smashers captain Langridge made his first appearance at Surrey Sports Park since his Rio 2016 Olympic Games success and partnered with fans' favourite Dean George, who made a brief return after retiring last summer.
A tight opening game went the way of the fellow Olympian Chris Adcock and his partner Adam Cwalina, but the Smashers pair were able to take control of the second to tie the match.
A failed Power Play handed the match lead back to Nottingham at 1-2 before another quick turnaround in the 4th allowed Langridge and George to take it to a tie-break, but Smashers were unable to hold out for the win as Adcock and Cwalina secured their side's first match win of the night.
Women's Singles: Line Kjaersfeldt 3-1 Li Lian Yang (6-9 9-5 9-4 9-8)
With more than 100 world ranking places between the two players, Kjaersfeldt was set to take her first AJ Bell NBL win against Li Lian Yang but it was the Malaysian who opened the tie with a 6-9 game.
Taking some time to get into her stride, Kjaersfeldt confidently took the following two games 9-5 9-4. Yang opened the vital fourth with a 0-3 run before a well taken Power Play took the game out of her reach and handed Line a 9-8, confirming the match-night win for her side.
Mixed Doubles: Gabby Adcock/Chris Langridge 1-3 Chris Adcock/Nina Vislova (8-9 9-8 6-9 7-9)
The night of the night was saved till last as all four Olympians, including two medallists, hit the court in the mixed doubles. Fans were also excited to see the battle between husband and wife pairing Chris and Gabby Adcock, going head-to-head for the first time in the AJ Bell NBL.
And the tie had a classic written all over it from the off and neither pair could break away from the other both of the opening games, with each team taking 1 a piece ahead of the 3rd.
Adcock and Vislova took their Power Play shuttle to go 4-7 up before holding on to lead the match 1-2, and from there on it was a straight forward victory for the Notts pair as they cruised to a 1-3 mixed doubles win.
The match-night victory pushes Smashers up to 4th place in the AJ Bell NBL table, with their next fixture coming on Monday 9th January at home to Rajiv Ouseph's Team Derby.
Surrey Smashers fans will be treated to a night of top quality badminton on Monday evening as Rio 2016 bronze medal winners Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis are set to go head-to-head in the 2016/17 AJ Bell National Badminton League.