Team Derby lifted the inaugural National Badminton League (NBL) title on Sunday, led by captain Rajiv Ouseph’s brilliant singles win to deny Loughborough Sport.
The UK’s first badminton league culminated at the K2 Crawley, Sussex in dramatic style as Ouseph’s win set up a Championship finale which down to the wire, Team Derby securing a 3-2 win in the final event.
Ouseph had only returned to the UK on Saturday from the Indonesian Open after a month-long series of international tournaments.
But the England No 1 adapted superbly to the first-to-nine scoring system to beat Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen 3-1.
Wins for Chris Coles and Andy Ellis in the men’s doubles and Karin Schnaase, Germany’s No 1, in the final women’s singles match paved the way for Team Derby’s victory.
“I fed off the energy of the crowd and off the team to get through that,” said Ouseph.
“I feel like I had a responsibility to the team. I am one of the older players and I knew that I had to play well here.
“You need to get off to a good start and it is crucial to be switched on in this format.
“I have been playing to 21 points for the last month away from home and it took a while to adjust to the first-to-nine scoring.”
Team Derby had earlier beaten University of Nottingham Sport in the Play-Off semi-finals, while Loughborough Sport had outgunned Surrey Smashers, the pre-tournament favourites, 5-0.
The NBL enjoyed a successful first season with a shortened, fast-paced format. The league introduced first to nine scoring, in-play substitutions and 60-second warm-ups.
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