Emily ‘crumbles’ against Loughborough on NBL finals day

Emily Westwood endured a difficult time against Loughborough
Emily Westwood endured a difficult time against Loughborough

Hemel Hempstead’s Emily Westwood conceded the pressure had got to her after failing to win at the National Badminton League Finals Day

Sunday saw the culmination of the first-ever NBL season, with four teams – including Westwood’s Surrey Smashers – battling it out at K2 Crawley to lift the trophy.

Surrey went into their play-off clash with Loughborough Sport full of confidence, having topped the table in the regular season.

However, what followed was not what they were expecting, with Loughborough booking their spot in the final with a 5-0 victory.

Westwood found herself playing a crucial role in the tie, pairing up with Matthew Nottingham in the decisive mixed doubles with the score already 2-0 to Loughborough.

But she was unable to lift her game against Marcus Elllis and Lauren Smith as any hopes of a Surrey fightback went up in smoke.

“Last time we had to play Loughborough Sport in the season, it came down to the last set and we lost 5-4 so we knew it was going to be a tough one,” she said. “We definitely believed we could do it, though. Going into it 2-0 down there was a lot of pressure on us but they played really well.

“The pressure got the better of me I think. We’ve played better than that before. I think it just shows how much the crowd at home when we play at the Sports Park help us through our matches.

“Hopefully next time there is a bigger crowd I’ll play better than that and not crumble.”

For Westwood, Sunday’s play-off defeat marked the end of competitions for her for the season until September.

But buoyed by playing her part in the first-ever NBL season, she intends to come back firing on all cylinders.

“It’s been great being a part of the NBL. All our home matches have been sold out so to play in front of that crowd has been great,” she added.

“You go away to tournaments, especially the ones I go to at the moment, and there are a few people there but there’s nothing like the big crowds in the NBL.

“It’s nice to get used to it. It’s given me a taste of what I want. I’ve got a long training block now so I have time to improve different areas of my game.”

For NBL Finals Day reaction, photos and video visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk.