Westwood ready to get the feathers flying on Yonex All England bow

Emily Westwood will be competing at the Yonex All England Championships
Emily Westwood will be competing at the Yonex All England Championships

Hemel Hempstead badminton star Emily Westwood is adamant the pressure will not get to her when she makes her Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships bow in Birmingham next week.

The 21-year-old had been in line to make her debut at the Barclaycard Arena last year before injury ruled her out of contention.

But 12 months on she is back for another crack at trying to make it to the main draw of the mixed doubles alongside partner Harley Towler.

The duo have been drawn to face Japan’s Keigo Sonoda and Reika Kakiiwa in the first round of qualifying, with another victory on top of that handing them entry to the main event.

And Westwood, who has been attending the prestigious event as a spectator for the last decade, admits it will be a special moment to simply take to the court, regardless of the outcome.

“I’ve never played the All England before but I’ve been to watch with my parents and family since the age of 11 so it will be amazing to play it,” she said.

“I didn’t play it last year because I was injured but I went along to support. The atmosphere is crazy, it’s such a big tournament and everyone says it’s the best tournament to play in England.

“There’s no pressure but the whole event – just walking out into that arena – because personally I’m not used to playing those, is quite a big thing so I think I will feel a little bit shaky on the day.

“It’s more exciting than intimidating, depending on who your opponents are obviously.

“If you’re playing a world top-ten that’s quite scary at the moment but the only thing you can do is learn from it. Watching some of the pairs play, it’s ridiculous how high the standard is.”

Westwood and Towler have already enjoyed a busy start to 2015, reaching the semi-finals of both the Swedish Masters and the English National Championships and most recently, the second round of the Austrian Open.

However hopes for home success next week will rest principally on the shoulders on world number six pairing Chris and Gabby Adcock, with Westood admitting they are the standard by which English players should aspire to.

“Chris and Gabby have the potential to do very well so all our hopes for that are on them for the moment,” she added.

“The rest of us are just trying to get some experience and get through qualifying, but hopefully one day.

“The Far East are very strong, they’ve got a lot of good young players coming through and we get to see them on the Superseries circuit. We need to start getting out names out there too.”

Tickets for the Yonex All England 2015 at the stunning new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham are available at allenglandbadminton.com or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.