The University of Nottingham National Badminton League (NBL) team beat the Surrey Smashers 4-1 at the Jubilee Campus Sports Hall in front of the Sky Sports cameras, to take them up to 2nd in the NBL table.

Having started the day in 3rd position, behind the Birmingham Lions, UoN’s impressive victory coupled with Birmingham’s 3-2 loss to Loughborough Sport meant that they leapfrogged the Lions, and are now just two points behind leaders Loughborough.

The first match of the night was the Men’s Singles, where UoN’s Eric Pang faced Surrey’s Carl Baxter. After a tight first few points, it was Baxter who took the first game 9-4, with his strong early hitting leaving Pang having to come from behind.

Pang’s response in the second game showed why he was picked for the men’s singles, however. A fantastic game at 6-5, with some great defensive play to win the point, proved the catalyst for Peng to take the 2nd game 9-6.

Yao Jie’s 3-1 victory in the women’s singles for UoN proved to be far closer than the scoreline suggests

The third game began with the trading of serves between the two players, before Pang took four points in a row to win the third set 9-5. With the shift in momentum, Pang increasingly grew into the game, racing into a 4-0 lead in the fourth game. At 1-0 up, Pang decided to use his power-play point, worth two if won, and victory in this point helped Pang into a 6-0 lead.

A spirited fightback by Baxter brought the game back to 7-3, but the lead ultimately proved too much for him to overhaul, with Pang taking the fourth game and sealing victory for UoN.

Yao Jie’s 3-1 victory in the women’s singles for UoN over Georgina Bland proved to be far closer than the scoreline suggests, with three of Jie’s games won by 9 points to 8.

Jie looked to take the initiative in the first game at 7-7, by using her power-play point; despite losing this point, she managed to take the first game 9-8 in a very tight first game.

After Bland managed to level the match with her own 9-8 victory, the crucial third game went UoN’s way. Jie raced into a 7-3 lead in the third, but it looked ominous when Bland managed to bring it back to 7-7. Jie’s composure shone through, however, as she managed to keep her nerve to take the game 9-8 once again.

The fourth game was slightly more straightforward for Jie, with a 6-3 lead always looking to be enough to hold off a spirited attacking game from Bland, with Jie taking the fourth game 9-7 and giving UoN a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.

UoN’s strong start to the third game became the catalyst for UoN’s third win of the night

Up next was the turn of Commonwealth Gold Medallist Chris Adcock and Adam Cwalina, in their men’s doubles match. However, the first game went Surrey’s way, with Langridge and Wolfenden showing their own class with some assured hitting, and calm nerves to win the first game 9-8.

The second game began at a frenetic pace, with both sides trading blows and sharing serves, taking the second game to 4-4. However, a superb defensive point to make it 5-4, followed by some big hits by Cwalina allowed him to serve out the second game for a 9-6 victory.

UoN’s strong start to the third game became the catalyst for UoN’s third win of the night and an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie, with the big hitting of Cwalina and the neat footwork of Adcock allowing the pair to win the next two games, 9-6 and 9-3.

Adam Hall’s and Ellen Mahenthiralingam valiantly fell in UoN’s only defeat of the tie in the mixed doubles. After taking the first game 9-8 with a brilliant power play point at 7-8, Hall and Mahenthiralingam could not find their rhythm and succumbed by 3 games to 1.

In the final game of the night, the women’s doubles, Cheryl Seinen and Jess Pugh followed up their 3-0 win over MK Badminton last time out with another commanding 3-0 win over Surrey’s women’s doubles pair.

A combination of power and pace proved to be too much for the Surrey pair in a 9-5, 9-6, 9-3 victory, to give UoN their fourth victory of the night and their fourth point in the tie.

With points awarded for every match which is won, the UoN team, despite having won a game less than the Birmingham Lions, took second place in the league ahead of Gameweek 6, against Team Derby on the 21st March 2016, with teams in the top four positions on 22nd March qualifying for the end of season play off, to vie for the Championship title.

By Connor Higgs

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