A packed Corn Exchange in Ipswich witnessed the Suffolk Saxons record a rousing victory over highly-fancied Surrey Smashers on their first ever AJ Bell National Badminton League home fixture.
The Saxons, sponsored by the University of Suffolk, produced a remarkable 4-1 winning scoreline on Monday that was well deserved.
Every match, however, stretched the nerve of the fantastic home supporters who were treated to a series of high quality and intense badminton, with this form of the game living up to its fast and furious brand.
Ahead of the match Saxons head coach Anthony Clark, who surprisingly left himself out of this fixture after his fine win in Birmingham, had stated that his squad were ‘battlers’ and suggested the Saxons would ‘hustle the Smashers and make them work hard for their points’.
On the evidence of last night Clark got his team and tactics spot on against a Smashers side fielding three Rio Olympians and a World Series winner in Gabby Adcock.
Clark said: “I’m thrilled with last night’s result and I couldn’t have asked for more from our players. They gave it everything they had, against tough opponents and the home crowd were loud and enthusiastic which was just brilliant for us.”
The evening began with a mixed doubles fixture featuring Adcock, paired with Chris Langridge, a bronze medallist in Rio.
The youthful Saxons pair of Sean Vendy and Zoe King performed above expectation to take the Olympians to the brink of a fifth set before falling to the experience of the top GB pair.
This early lead for the Smashers failed to dampen the volume of the Saxons crowd and debutant Julie Finne Ipsen proceeded to whip up even more noise in what was the first of two inspired performances by the young Dane.
In this key singles match against highly-ranked compatriot Line Kjaersfeldt the Saxon maintained a high intensity attacking game to delight the fans and secure a 3-1 victory.
There was more excitement to follow as rising star Joel Douse rewrote the form book with a power display against Smasher’s Sam Parson’s.
In a near-perfect gameplan Douse recovered from a period of Parsons’ domination to clinch victory, with clever use of the power play bonus point and superb offensive tactics.
The momentum was with Saxons and it was left to Julie Finne Ipsen and Sarah Walker to produce a match-winning performance against a top NBL pair in Gabby Adcock and Sophie Thomas.
Tight games and long rallies tested the defences of both pairs, but in truth the Saxons pair were never going to give this game up and in clinching a 9-8 third set demonstrated great technique under pressure.
On this form Walker and Ipsen are going to be a tough pair to beat and the crowd rose to mark a landmark victory for the Saxons.
Andy Ellis had been disappointed with his game last month in Birmingham, but in this match the Saxons fans saw the real deal.
The men’s doubles pitched Ellis and the inspired Vendy up against Langridge and Wolfenden.
A wonderfully tight and tense match full of quality was the result with each set closely contested.
It was Ellis and Vendy who stepped up though to claim an important fourth point that the team deserved.
Saxons will travel to Loughborough later this month and the next home match will take place at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on December 5, when another full house is anticipated.
Tickets are available from the Ipswich Corn Exchange box office www.apps.ipswich.gov.uk or by calling 01473 433100.
Suffolk Saxons 4 Surrey Smashers 1 (Saxon names first)
Sean Vendy & Zoe King lost to Chris Langridge & Gabby Adcock: 3-9, 9-4, 7-9,2-9
Julie Finne Ipsen beat Line Kjaersfeldt 9-4,4-9,9-6,9-4
Joel Douse beat Sam Parsons 9-4,7-9,9-6, 9-7
Sarah Walker & Julie Finne Ipsen beat Gabby Adcock & Sophie Thomas 9-5, 6-9, 9-8, 9-5
Andy Ellis & Sean Vendy beat Chris Langridge & Tom Wolfenden 9-6, 9-8, 7-9, 9-7