England finished a respectable fourth at the prestigious Victor 6 Nations under-17 tournament over Easter weekend.
Our junior squad only narrowly missed out on a medal position in the team event, after three days of competition against host nation Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and eventual 2022 champions France.
In the end, medal hopes rested on their final tie against Germany, but a narrow defeat meant England had to settle for fourth, finishing with an overall record of two wins and three losses.
A 13-player squad headed over to Arnhem, gaining valuable experience by playing against some of the best young shuttlers in the continent.
England were defeated 6-3 by France in their opening tie on Saturday but responded in the best possible fashion by winning their next fixture against Netherlands later that day by the same scoreline.
Denmark proved too strong in the opener on day two, completing a clean sweep, winning all nine rubbers without reply.
But once again our young team showed real resilience in the next match against Sweden, edging a hard fought-tie 5-4.
That meant the team was still in contention for a medal going into the final day of the tournament.
The fifth and final opponents Germany won the first rubber when Jason Ou and Lila Dundas were defeated in a close doubles match.
England found themselves 3-1 down, but turned the match around through wins for Dillon Chong in the singles, and David Ng and Ivan Tan in the doubles.
Sadly it was not to be as the German’s won the final two rubbers to clinch a 5-4 win, meaning our young crop had to settle for fourth in the final standings.
France finished top, with a perfect record of five wins from five matches, while Denmark finished second and Sweden secured the final podium spot.
Jia Bin Lee and Grace Sachdeva in particular pulled out some excellent performances for Team England, with Bin Lee winning six of his ten rubbers.
Sachdeva was successful in four of her nine matches, with a thrilling three set win over Netherlands’ Esmeralda Van Drunen on day one the pick of the bunch.
Prior to the team event over the weekend, there were also individual events, with England managing to pick up a bronze medal after an excellent run in the men’s doubles.
Jia and Ou paired up and an excellent run saw them secure silverware, only beaten 21-13, 21-13, in the semi-final by eventual winners Philip Kryger and Solomon Thomasen.
Our under-17 junior pathway players will next be in action at the Turkey Open, which takes place in Ankara next month.