Report: Olympic battle ends in defeat for Smashers
11 January 2017 17:03
By Chris Whitehead
Abigail Holden secured a shock win in the match-night defeat (Credit Gary Baker)
Surrey Smashers faced their third match-night defeat of the 2016/17 AJ Bell National Badminton League season on Monday night as Team Derby stole a 3-2 right at the death at Surrey Sports Park.
Fans were eagerly anticipating the match-up between Rio 2016 bronze winners Chris Langridge (Smashers) and Marcus Ellis (Derby) in the mixed and men's doubles events, but it was the Derby man who took the spoils in both ties to help his side to a key match-night victory
The night got off to a disappointing start in the mixed doubles as Lanridge, paired with Marie Ropke, suffered a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Ellis and Lauren Smith.
Sam Parsons turned Smashers' fortunes around in the men's singles with a straight games win over Ryan Quek, before the performance of the night from 17-year-old Abigail Holden saw her defeat 2010 Commonwealth Games medallist Lyddiah Cheh 3-0 in the women's singles to hand Smashers a 2-1 lead.
Ropke, paired with Sophie Brown, came unstuck once again in the women's singles as they went down on a tie-break to Smith and Kate Robertshaw allowing Derby to send the match-night into a deciding event.
Smashers captain Langridge went into the men's doubles alongside Tom Wolfenden with one eye on revenge over his Rio partner, who was joined by Nico Ruponen for the closing match. The pairs were finely poised throughout the tie, which went down to the wire at 3-all in the tie-breaker.
Sadly for the home support it was Ellis and Ruponen who held their nerve and took a dying moments victory to seal at 2-3 match-night win for Team Derby.
With two match-nights left for Smashers (away vs Birmingham on Mon 28 Nov and away vs Bristol on Mon 6 Feb), they now have an uphill task to complete if they are to reach the NBL Finals on Wednesday 8 February.