Mollie Patterson & Ismaila Akindiya upset the odds to claim the mixed doubles title, beating the top seeds and heavy favourites Tin-Tin Ho & Liam Pitchford.
Patterson and Akindiya didn’t allow their opponents to settle, with Ho & Pitchford clearly not at their best.
However, it looked like they had the momentum when the won the third game and were ahead in the fourth. But Patterson & Akindyia delighted the crowd with some outstanding rallies, winning the title on their third match point. The final score: 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 14-12.
After the match, Akindiya said: “I’m very happy, I never expected it. It was amazing and I was really surprised we got this far.”
Patterson added: “I want to thank Ismaila, he kept me calm when I was getting nervous at the end. We tried to stay focused throughout and stick to our gameplan.”
Photos by Alan Man – see more on our Flickr page | Feature image above by Pawel Meryn
Yesterday, the top two pairs duly made it into the final. The two semi-finals were the last match of a busy day at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships, and it was the second seeds who were first to confirm their place as Patterson & Akindiya got past siblings Erin & Connor Green 3-0 (12-10, 11-8, 11-7).
The were followed by Ho & Pitchford, who dropped a game against Denise Payet & Tommy Gritton before showing their class to seal a 3-1 (11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8) victory.
Ho & Pitchford have not played much together in recent years but with the understanding forged from twice winning Commonwealth Games silver, they are hot favourites to take the title in Saturday’s final.
In the quarter-finals they were seldom troubled by Amy Marriott & Louis Price, winning 11-8, 11-6, 11-3.
The other quarters were somewhat more convoluted, with two going the distance and the other a tight four-setter. That one saw Patterson & Akindiya come through 15-17, 11-9, 12-10, 12-10 against Jasmin Wong & Ben Piggott.
In the others, Payet & Gritton staved off a fightback by Ella Pashley & Graeme Barella to prevail 3-2 (11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-5), while the Greens came from behind to triumph over Anaya Patel & Naphat Boonyaprapa 3-2 (11-8, 12-14, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9).
In the first round, Ho & Pitchford did not take long to get into their groove, holding off Mari Baldwin & Felix Thomis in three (8, 4, 3).
Second seeds Patterson & Akindiya conceded only one point more as they eliminated Megan Jones & Jakub Piwowar 6, 4, 6 at the same stage.
Two fancied pairs – both previous finalists in this event – were knocked out in the first round. Emily Bolton & Alim Hirji, finalists in 2019, went out 3-0 (12-10, 15-13, 11-4) to Patel & Naphong Boonyaprapa, while last year’s beaten finalists, Lois Peake & Josh Bennett, were defeated 3-0 (8, 8, 3) by Pashley & Barella.
Siblings Erin & Connor Green went through in three against Sienna Jetha & Gabriel Achampong (6, 7, 6) and Wong & Piggott prevailed 11-9, 11-4, 11-3 over Mya Sultan & Shaquille Webb-Dixon. Marriott & Price booked their tie against Ho & Pitchford with a 3-0 (11-2, 14-12, 11-8) win over Anna Green & Naphat Boonyaprapa.
The last of the first-round matches to finish saw Payet & Gritton emerge victorious against Evie Pace & Chris Doran, the score 3-1 (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10).