Hemel Hempstead’s Emily Westwood is champing at the bit to return to the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships after last year’s maiden adventure.
Westwood and Matthew Nottingham will compete in the mixed doubles as the great and good of world badminton descend on Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena from March 8-13.
For Westwood it is the event on her calendar she looks forward to above all others, having made her bow last year alongside Harley Towler.
Westwood and Towler won their opening qualification match but failed to reach the main draw as their journey was ended by South Koreans Sol Gyu Choi and Yoo Jung Chae.
But alongside Nottingham this time around, 22-year-old Westwood is aiming even higher.
“I always went to watch the Yonex All England Championships when I was younger so it was a big thing for me playing last year,” she said.
“It was the first time I played there because the year before I was injured. I did have a really good win last year but I wasn’t playing with Matt at the time.
“We did well and I really enjoyed it. In the qualifying stages there isn’t such a big crowd so it’s not quite the same.
“We’re really looking forward to it this year and trying to get into the main draw, but I think it will be tough. We believe we’re in with a shot of getting there.
“There’s four really strong pairs in qualifying so if we get lucky then we’re in with a shot, but otherwise we’re just looking for a good performance rather than setting specific goals.”
We’re really looking forward to it this year and trying to get into the main draw, but I think it will be tough.Emily Westwood
Earlier in February Westwood and Nottingham fell just short of appearing in the English National Championships final as they lost a 57-minute thriller 21-16, 17-21, 21-19 to eventual runners up Chris Coles and Sophie Brown.
And while she would have liked to have made her mark in the showpiece, Westwood believes the pair can take plenty of positives on to Birmingham.
“We didn’t get to where we would have liked to but we did come away with some positives which is a really good thing,” she added.
“Obviously we’re disappointed but it could have gone either way and we did well to come back in the third game but we couldn’t quite get over the line because we were so far down.
“That’s a huge positive for us but we’re still disappointed.”
> Watch the world’s best players at the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena from 8-13 March. For tickets visit allenglandbadminton.com