‘Main focus’: Bolton’s Wallwork desperate to avoid repeat of 2015 National Badminton League heartache

Bolton’s Jenny Wallwork is hopeful Loughborough Sport can go on and win their first AJ Bell National Badminton League title after they snatched a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Birmingham Lions to confirm a top-four finish.

Loughborough Sport went into Monday night’s fixture just two points ahead of Birmingham Lions as both sides looked to move a step closer to securing a top-four finish, and with it a spot in the AJ Bell NBL Championship Finals Day on May 8.

And the hosts came from two events down against Birmingham Lions at the Sir David Wallace Arena at Loughborough University to extend their lead at the top of the table to three points and book a place in the Finals Day with a fixture to spare.

Loughborough Sport lost to Team Derby in the inaugural AJ Bell NBL final last year and Wallwork is keen to put that right this time around.

“We are really pleased with the win, especially as we are now through to the Finals Day,” the 29-year-old said.

“We want to go into the Finals Day unbeaten and we want to get the title this year – that is our main focus.

“We just missed out last year and we were devastated so we do not want that to happen this year.

“Hopefully we can finish the season off in the right way this time around.”

Wallwork was partnering Lauren Smith in their 9-8, 9-5, 9-4 victory over Heather Olver and Sarah Walker on Monday night.

It came just two days after Smith and Olver knocked out Wallwork and Birch at the semi-final stage of the English National Badminton Championships, winning 21-16, 15-21, 21-17, before going on to retain their title.

Bolton’s Gary Fox was also in action on Monday night having taking part in the Nationals a couple of days before.

Fox and his Birmingham Lions partner Koen Ridder picked up their first AJ Bell NBL victory of the season against Peter Briggs and Harley Towler in the 3-2 defeat.

Two days before Fox had reached the quarter-finals of the men’s Nationals doubles with partner Dean George before departing at the hands of Towler and Matthew Nottingham 21-16, 21-16.

Fox also took part in the mixed doubles alongside his girlfriend Lauren Smith but they were knocked out in the second round by eventual runners-up Christopher Coles and Sophie Brown 21-15, 14-21, 21-17 – although Smith did go on to win a fourth consecutive women’s doubles title.

“It has been a tough season so far and with me and Koen not being full-time, it is tough but we knew we had a chance to win that one,” Fox said.

“And I was pleased with my performances in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles at the Nationals.

“We lost two tough games against seeded pairings but I was pleased with my performances and I really enjoyed myself.

“This year I didn’t put any pressure on myself because I am not funded and not on a programme so I am just playing for enjoyment and that helps you to just enjoy yourself and play the sport that I love.”

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