Ace Lydia clinches top title

Lydia Powell with her trophies from the Wimbledon U19 Gold Tournament
Lydia Powell with her trophies from the Wimbledon U19 Gold Tournament

Badminton protege Lydia Powell has pulled off the biggest tournament victory of her highly promising career.

The 17-year-old from Hastings overcame an international field to win the Wimbledon U19 Gold Tournament last weekend.

In an event contested by all nine of the players on the Badminton England funding programme, Powell beat Danish girl Josie Frost-Zwicky 21-9, 21-13 and Ira Banerjee 21-15, 20-22, 21-10 to win her box.

She then edged out her doubles partner Jessica Hopton 21-19, 29-27, avenging a defeat to the same player at the National Championships earlier this year.

Powell returned the next day to pull off a fine three-set victory over much-fancied Indian player Reshma Karthik, who had been sweeping all before her until that stage.

She clinched the title with a first victory in several attempts against number one seed Viki Williams, winning 19-21, 21-16, 21-14.

Powell and Hopton justified their number two seeding in the doubles by reaching the final, although by that stage the former’s efforts in the singles had taken it out of her, and they lost to the country’s top ranked under-19 pair, Williams and Jenny Moore.

Powell and Hopton had previously won the doubles title at their first event of the season, the Hertfordshire Senior Silver Tournament.

Having just started her second year at Parkwood 6th Form, Powell was due to head off to the continent today (Thursday) for the Belgium Junior International with the national under-18 squad. She has also been selected for the Danish Cup next month.

What’s more, Powell has signed a contract with equipment supplier Babolat, best known for its strings and tennis racquets which are used by top players such as Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick.

Steve Chappell, Babolat UK badminton manager, said: “Babolat are delighted to be sponsoring Lydia for the 2013/14 badminton season. There is a new emphasis on badminton within the company and we are looking to aggressively grow our market share in badminton rackets and shuttlecocks over the coming years.

“By having talented junior players like Lydia on our team and by helping support other talented juniors as well as grassroots initiatives, we look forward to inspire new players to take up this great sport.”