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Loughborough Sport smash Surrey Smashers in NBL semi-final

Loughborough Sport 5 – 0 Surrey Smashers

Loughborough Sport headed to Crawley this weekend to face top of the league Surrey Smashers in the semi-final in the first ever NBL Finals day. Having narrowly lost to Surrey Smashers 3-2 back in December, Loughborough Sport were keen to fight for the chance to play in the inaugural NBL Championship Final.

Up first was the men’s doubles with Peter Briggs and Greg Mairs taking on double national champion Chris Langridge and GB player Tom Wolfenden. Going in as underdogs, Loughborough started strongly, taking the first game 9-6. Surrey fought back in the second, before Loughborough stole a tight third. A well-timed Powerplay gave Loughborough the momentum to take a 3-1.

On the first victory of the day, Peter Briggs said

The change in momentum from the Powerplay in the 4th set was a really big thing. We were down 6-3, took the Powerplay and got us back to 6-6. We didn’t lose a point after that.

Next up was the women’s singles with Linda Zetchiri playing Scottish national champion Caitlin Pringle. Zetchiri, who was in high spirits after her first NBL win against Milton Keynes, gave a strong performance, coming out with a 3-0 win.

On her victory, Zetchiri said:

It was great to get a point for our team. I felt very nice on the court and I am glad I can contribute.

On asking whether Zetchiri thinks they will get to the final:

I fully hope so. I believe that we can get to the final and perform our best.

Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles were up next playing Matt Nottingham and Emily Westwood. Both Ellis and Smith returned from the Indonesian Open yesterday and showed some exceptional individual performances. Despite this, Ellis and Smith gave an excellent performance, coming out with a 3-0 win.

On asked about whether we could win the final, Ellis said:

 Of course we can. We have a great chance in every discipline so I think that puts Loughborough in a really good position to win.

Smith was also positive:

Yeah I agree. I think we’ve got a team that can beat either of the other teams. We will be going out all guns blazing!

In the penultimate semi-final match, Henri Hurskainen took on five time English nationals champion Carl Baxter. Hurskainen, looking to continue his unbeaten run in the NBL so far this season, started the stronger of the two, taking the first game. The second and third games followed in a similar vein as Hurskainen took a convincing 3-0 victory.

Hurskainen gave us his thoughts post match:

I feel really good. My body is moving fast and my shot were very accurate. So I am very happy to win 3 straight sets as I don’t want to waste too much energy to be ready for the next match.

Henri was positive looking ahead to the afternoon’s final:

I’ve had 2 weeks very good practice so I think I am very ready for this. The team looks very strong which is promising for the final.

In the final match of the semi-final Chloe Birch and Jenny Wallwork were up against Eefje Muskens, ranked 15 in the world, and Dutch international Soraya De Visch Eijbergen. With a substitution made by Surrey Smashers mid-match, Birch and Wallwork used this to their advantage, beating Surrey Smashers 3-0.

Loughborough Sport progress to the final against either University of Nottingham Badminton or Team Derby. Watch live on Sky Sports 1 starting at 2.30pm.