Junior Pathway Round-Up: April
April was a big month for our junior pathway players as tournaments were held across the continent, with some able to reach the podium and bring home medals.
Here’s what our youngsters have been up to…
We kicked off the month by sending a strong team to France for the Adidas Alpes International Championship with some outstanding performances.
England had 19 entrants in total across the five draws as Nadeem Dalvi led the way in the men’s singles, with an excellent run taking him through to the quarter-final stage.
The Luton youngster produced a fantastic run of form to reach the last eight, with victories over seeded players including Dominik Kopriva along the way.
Although Indonesian youngster Muhammad Reza Al Fajri ended his brave run with a 21-17, 21-16 win, Dalvi can take great pride from his performances in Voiron.
Ashwati Nair was another to find top form in the women’s singles draw.
She defeated two Spanish players en route to the last eight, including a three-game win over 12th seed Cristina Teruel, a player nearly 500 places above her in the world rankings.
Marie Cesari, one of many from a deep French squad, was next but she was also beaten in a decider, Nair coming from behind to win 14-21, 21-14, 21-19.
Fourth seed Emile Drouin, who had earlier knocked out Chloe Dennis, ended her run in the quarters but Nair went down fighting, losing 21-13, 21-16 against a tough opponent.
A full review of the tournament can be found here.
Under-17 6 Nations
Over Easter Weekend a selection pathway players were representing England at the prestigious Victor 6 Nations under-17 tournament.
All involved gained valuable experience by playing against some of the best young shuttlers in the continent.
And after some good performances throughout the squad, 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.
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.
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 Jason 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.
Under-15 Quadrangular Event
England’s under-15 squad capped off the month by taking a superb team event gold at the Quadrangular 2022 tournament in Dublin.
Taking on Wales, Scotland and hosts Ireland, our team were in impeccable form throughout, losing only one rubber across their three ties.
9-0 wins over Wales and Scotland were followed by an 8-1 triumph over Ireland that secured the title.
In the parallel individual events English shuttlers claimed all five gold medals, with James Song completing his own personal hat-trick of titles.
Song topped the podium in the boys’ singles, boys doubles (with Aarav Sujith) and mixed doubles (with Sofie Chong)
Sia Pandit claimed gold in the girls’ singles, while Ann George and Rajvi Parab became girls’ doubles champions.
Forza Dutch International
Our England Junior Pathway players also provided a podium finish at the Dutch International where Alex Green and Jonty Russ found their best form of the season so far, during a superb run to the final.
The young duo came through an epic second-round clash with Andreas Søndergaard and Jesper Toft (21-19, 24-26, 25-23) before knocking out Swedish pair Joel Hansson and Melker Z-Bexell in the last eight in straight games.
Fellow English shuttlers Yue Chern Chua and William Jones awaited in the semi-finals after a solid run of their own, beating third seeds Marvin Datko and Patrick Scheiel of Germany 21-11, 30-29 in the quarter-finals.
But it was the combination of Green and Russ who had the edge on this occasion, winning 21-16, 21-19.
That set up a final against Rasmus Kjaer and Frederik Sogaard and the Danish pair took the opening game 21-9.
Green and Russ fought back to push the eventual champions all the way in the second game but were eventually edged out, 21-19.
Freya Redfearn and Abi Holden were also both seeded in the women’s singles draw and looking to lead the charge.
Holden put together a good run to reach the final four, the fifth seed showing her mental strength in a mammoth quarter-final against Jenjira Stadelmann, eventually going through 21-10, 29-27 after surviving four game points in the second game.
That effort took its toll on her semi-final played later the same day, where Holden was beaten by Siti Nurshuhaini 21-18, 21-6, but it was still a positive week for the 22-year-old.
Elsewhere, Redfearn was defeated in the opening round by Milena Schnider and Emily Beach also fell at the same hurdle after navigating qualifying.
Junior Olve Tournament
Two of our younger age groups were also competing across the continent during April, with under-15 and under-13 players heading to Belgium.
In the older age category, junior shuttler Sofie Chong picked up two medals, winning gold in the mixed doubles event and a silver in the girls’ singles.
Chong won gold with James Song after a brilliant 21-14, 21-14, win in the final over French pair Nathan Nguyen and Eva Bouville.
Aarav Sujith also came back from Antwerp with a gold, picking up the boys’ doubles title with his partner, France’s Arthur Tatranov.
Meanwhile, two pathway players also made it to the final of the girls’ doubles with Annakalathil George and Rajvi Parab securing a silver medal.
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