Smith on 10 match unbeaten run with Prague win
Lauren Smith has proven herself to be the queen of the Badminton Europe circuit in recent weeks after victory with Chloe Birch in Belgium two weeks ago and in Prague today alongside Sarah Walker.
Smith (pictured above on podium), the undoubted star of English women’s doubles, has been mixing it up recently with new partners over recent weeks as team England experiment to find new pairings ahead of the worlds in Glasgow next year.
After the win in Belgium Smith teamed up with the vastly experienced Sarah Walker this week and were head and shoulders above the field in Prague. After cruising through the opening rounds the experimental English duo were tested today by Petya Nedelcheva and Mariya Mitsova while never looking like losing.
A remarkable tournament for the English pair winning without dropping a set and sends Smith on a 10 match unbeaten run after victories and consecutive tournaments for the likeable English lass.
“Conditions have been difficult this week with the wind in the hall but we were able to adjust and make it work to our advantage” said Smith. “It’s a great feeling to be winning again and alongside Lauren it becomes pretty easy as she is so strong” said Sarah Walker
Koch Rohde and Abain take singles titles
Natalia Koch Rohde (pictured above) celebrated her women’s singles title today like it was her first win on the circuit. The Dane was visibly delighted after beating compatriot Mette Poulsen in two games after a year that was hampered by injury.
In the men’s singles Pablo Abian took yet another circuit title from the position of top seed. The ageless Spaniard was taken to three sets by Fabian Roth with the German looking a potential winner in the not too distant future.
Abian wowed the crowd with his on court antics and with the crowd on his side Abian was always going to deliver even with the quality of Roth on the other side of the net.
In the mixed doubles final there was a surprise victory with Mathias Bay-Smidt and Alexandra Boje lifting the title from qualification. 8 matches played in mixed alone and the Danes were obviously delighted with their win over Bolotova and Kuznetsov of Russia.
“Wow it’s great to win here after a pretty poor start in qualification” said Bay-Smidt. “This is good preparation and motivation for me with the world juniors coming up soon so yes to win a senior title is a great feeling” said Boje.
In the final match of the day Chinese Taipei duo Lu and Yang completed their hat trick of titles after winning in Belgium and Poland back to back. In today’s final Lu an Yang prevented a double for Mathias Bay-Smidt as the Dane went down in the final alongside Frederick Sogaard.
Fond farewell to a Czech badminton great
Czech badminton bid farewell to one of its great sons today in Prague as Petr Koukal ended his playing career with an exhibition match against another European legend, Hans Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark. There were emotional scenes as Koukal (pictured above talking to Czech national TV after his match) played out his final moments on a badminton court in front of a packed house in Prague.
“To end like this is as good as it can get” said Koukal “I have had a great career with three Olympic Games and seeing the world. I feel comfortable now hanging up my racket and moving on to the next stage of my life”
To watch all the action from finals day in Prague click HERE
For some photos from today’s exhibition match and podium shots click HERE
For all results from the FZ FORZA Prague Open click HERE
Article and Images by Mark Phelan (Live in Prague)