COVENTRY’S Fontaine Chapman wasted little time in turning her focus towards clinching the National Badminton League (NBL) title after helping her Birmingham Lions team successfully book their place at Finals Day.
Birmingham Lions needed just one point from Monday night’s home clash with Surrey Smashers to confirm their place at The Ultimate Smashdown at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on May 8.
And British number one Chapman led from the front, achieving that target in the very first event of the night with a 9-6 9-3 9-3 win over debutant Til’ Shiloh Shaw.
As it was, the Smashers would eventually hit back to take a 3-2 win on the night, but it was Chapman and Birmingham Lions, who finished third in the table to set up an AJ Bell NBL Finals Day clash with the University of Nottingham, who were left with the biggest smile.
“I didn’t get off to a great start but I was really pleased to get through it and get a point for the team to get us into the Finals Day,” said Chapman.
“I love the NBL. I’ve had a bit of a foot injury this week and it was touch or go whether I was going to play or not but I wanted to.
“I wanted to make sure I turned out for my side every game this season because I know that one event in it can cost you the match.
“It’s amazing to make the Finals. Last year we were quite disappointed we didn’t make it so this year to actually do it and know that we’ve done it in the first event of this match.
“We’ve got such a good team spirit so getting there is great and now we can start working on the Play-Offs.”
Last year the Birmingham Lions missed out on the inaugural NBL Finals Day as Team Derby eventually went on to lift the trophy.
The reigning champions will again be there at the showpiece event, taking on table toppers and pace setters Loughborough Sport, and Chapman admitted it was hard to predict who would come out on top to lift the trophy this time around.
“I can’t wait for the Finals Day now,” she added.
“Loughborough are a tough team to come up against. But then we can’t underestimate any of the other teams, they’ve all got really good players and so it’s hard to call.
“But we’ve got some really good players too and we can definitely compete with the best.”
Support your local teams and badminton stars in their bid for title glory at the AJ Bell National Badminton Finals Day – The Ultimate Smashdown on Sunday 8 May at the Barclaycard Arena. For tickets and information, visit www.nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk