Playing under their new name, Loughborough Lightning badminton franchise scored a decisive opening night victory in the AJ Bell National Badminton League, away at Surrey Smashers.
After finishing runners-up for the second season in a row, Lightning who were formerly known as Loughborough Sport, travelled south to take on a strong Surrey Smasher side. After going 1-0 down, the team eventually prevailed 4-1, a great start to their 2016/17 campaign.
Loughborough University students Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore lost out in the mixed doubles to former Loughborough student Ben Stawski and his partner Marie Roepke, which was the only celebration for the 500 plus crowd inside the Surrey Sports Park.
Lightning showed why they went unbeaten until the final last year, with student Chloe Birch continuing her scintillating NBL form with a double victory in both the women’s doubles and singles.
With the format changing this year to allow players to contest more than one event per match night, Birch stormed to a 3-1 singles victory, sweeping aside youngster Abigail Holden. That put Lightning 2-1 in front after Swede Henri Hurskainen had won the men’s singles by the same score-line.
That gave Mairs and men’s doubles partner Peter Briggs the chance to clinch match night victory and show the resilience that has become a trademark over the past two seasons. Alumnus Briggs was the perfect partner for Mairs and they wrapped up victory over Surrey Smashers with another 3-1 result.
Captain Birch returned to court with the result beyond doubt, but as always she fought hard for victory alongside fellow Loughborough student Viki Williams. A new pairing, the duo took a little time to find their groove, but looked impressive when they reached fifth gear, fighting back to secure a tie-break victory.
Next up for the victorious Lightning side is a home clash against newcomers Suffolk Saxons. Tickets for the game on Monday 28th November can be bought here.
Report courtesy of Lougborough University