Madrid: English mixed doubles pairing Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh notched up their first international senior title of 2016 at the Spanish International today.
The fourth seeds in Madrid were imperious throughout the competition, sweeping Jakub Bitman and Alzbeta Basova aside in straight sets in the semi-finals to reach Sunday’s final in style.
And Lane and Pugh did not disappoint, eventually triumphing 21-14 15-21 21-14 over French pairing Gaetan Mittelheisser and Emilie Lefel – who had ended the run of England’s Gregory Mairs and Jenny Moore in the semis, and beaten top seeds Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak of Denmark in the round beforehand.
Lane and Pugh got off to the ideal start, racing into a five-point lead in the first game, going 7-2 in front after an epic rally.
And while their French opponents fought valiantly to stay in touch, at 19-9 the first game seemed won for the Milton Keynes-based duo – although Mittelheisser and Lefel wrestled back some of the momentum to win four points in a row before going down 21-14.
That run seemed to spark them into life, with Lane and Pugh finding life harder at the start of the second game with the lead changing hands several times, before Mittelheisser and Lefel won another four points on the spin to lead 11-7 at the interval.
They then turned the screw with another three straight points, and Lane and Pugh were taken into a decider for only the second time in the tournament.
But the English pairing were not to tire, and despite another tight opening to the set they clinched a lengthy point to take their advantage to 8-5 and never looked back.
After continuing to extend the gap, a perfectly executed shot from Pugh clinched the title at 20-14.
Having finished as runners up at the Victor Dutch International in April, this was Lane and Pugh’s first international senior title of 2016 and their first ever International Challenge category win.
— Badminton England