By Oli Dickson Jefford at the Utilita Arena Birmingham
Exmouth badminton star Ben Lane vowed to come back stronger after tasting defeat in his opening round clash at the YONEX All England Open in Birmingham.
Lane and partner Sean Vendy battled hard but fell 21-18 17-21 21-16 to fifth seeds Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi at the Utilita Arena, failing to match an opening round victory for the English pairing a year ago.
It was the third time this year that Lane and Vendy had lost to the Chinese pairing, though this was by far the closest of their meetings in 2023 - the first time the duo have taken a game off their rivals.
And Lane believes that despite a tricky start to their season, the pairing will push on to continue their rise up the rankings from 2022.
“I thought we played some good badminton out there, but we were just a bit too patchy,” said the 25-year-old.
“We played some very good badminton at the end of the second to get us back into the game because we knew we were a set and 16-11 down.
“It’s always a bit gutting when you train hard up to a big event and lose, but it’s definitely coming. We feel like we’re playing well and training well.”
Vendy added: “We're training really hard and we were in really good shape coming in. We’re obviously gutted, it was a really tough draw but I’m sure there are a lot of positives to take. It’s a bit raw now.
“We started off a bit passive [in the third game]. We were just letting them come onto us a little too much. We started hitting a little slower. We might have just given them a little too much lead and again we caught back a little bit - but it was probably a bit too hard at that point.”
It was a return to the Second City for Lane after competing at the Commonwealth Games last summer, where he and Vendy battled their way to a silver medal.
And with the All England taking pride and place in the city every March for the last 30 years, there is no place in the world he loves playing in more.
Lane commented: “It’s always amazing playing in England.
“The crowds are amazing in Birmingham, it was the same in the Commonwealth Games last summer and same every time we come here.
“A big thanks to the crowd and everyone who supports us, not just today but throughout the whole year.”
Tickets for the 2023 YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships are on sale now. Click here to find out more.