3rd Jul, 2022

Waiting game for Coventry's Fontaine Chapman with a place National Badminton League Ultimate Smashdown at stake

BADMINTON: FONTAINE Chapman admits nerves are going to be higher than ever when it comes to AJ Bell National Badminton League Match-night 7 – even though the Coventry badminton star won’t be taking to the court.

Despite losing her women’s singles event, Chapman’s Birmingham Lions finished off their round-robin stage with victory over Surrey Smashers, a 3-2 success just about keeping them in the competition.

But with a place at AJ Bell NBL Ultimate Smashdown at stake – only the top two in the league progress – the Lions’ fate rests in other hands when Loughborough Lightning face Team Derby on February 6.

And Chapman insists she will be a reluctant watcher for that particular outing, something of an opposite to what her champion side have been used to in recent competitions.

“Waiting to find out is going to be a long few weeks,” she admitted. “We can’t do anything about it, we’ve done our matches and played the best we can, now it’s just a waiting game.

“It’s going to be a nervous watch! I’ll be watching some of the other teams battling it out and there’s nothing we can do but hope.

“I’ll pretend not to care, but I know that when the last Match-night starts I’ll be all over it, watching the scores come through!

“I’d much rather be on court playing and deciding rather than waiting it out. In the last few tournaments we’ve been the side who needs to go and get the win so it’s going to be a strange feeling.”

It was a night of mixed emotions for Chapman, with her Lions prevailing despite missing out on personal glory from the very last point of her event.

Having battled her way from 8-4 down to win the third game on a Powerplay, the 27-year-old went into a final game tie-break with Line Kjaersfeldt – with a chance to put her side 2-0 up in the fixture.

But with both players on match point, it was the Dane who took the last blow, a gut-wrenching way for Chapman to miss out in front of her home crowd at Munrow Sports Centre.

“The last few times we’ve played she’s beaten me so I was desperate to take it to her and show that I’m competing again, and I certainly did that but it wasn’t enough to take the victory,” she added.

“After I’d come back I thought had unsettled her a little bit, to pull something like that off doesn’t happen very often and you get a lot of confidence – particularly from having a couple of games early on where I wasn’t on rhythm.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game but I had the belief that I could sneak it, and I very nearly did so it’s a tough one to take on the chin.”

The AJ Bell National Badminton League final takes place on 8 February at centre:mk in Milton Keynes, offering a great value family evening out. Tickets to see the league’s top two teams go head to head to be champions can be booked at www.nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk 

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