Nathan Robertson will make his first home appearance since reaching 100 caps when he represents Team England in the international badminton match with Japan at the University of Bath tomorrow (Fri, 6.45pm).
And the 2004 Olympic silver medallist and reigning Commonwealth mixed doubles champion expects Japan to be out for revenge after Center Parcs-supported Team England’s 4-1 win when the two nations last met in the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in the Chinese city of Guangzhou in May.
That was the match when Robertson celebrated his 100th appearance by giving Team England a winning lead by beating Kenta Kazuno and Kenichi Hayakawa after coming back from a game and 18-12 down.
But the 32-year-old former world mixed doubles champion said: “I’m sure they will be out for revenge after the Sudirman Cup and they have brought their strongest possible squad, including Kazuno and Hayakama.
“They will be hard to beat, they have some good players, but our job is to keep just ahead of them.”
Nathan remembers that Sudirman Cup win vividly: “It was a great match but I would have hated losing on my 100th appearance.
“I am very proud to reach 100 and join the other England players in that small group. They are all great players.
“I remember my first cap clearly. It was against China in Boston (1995) and I played mixed with Gail (Emms).
“Actually it was very special for me to start my England career with Gail and win my 100th cap with Anthony as they are the two most special and closest partners and friends.
“Now I am waiting for Ant to reach 100 (he goes into these the match on 91), probably next year. Hopefully it will be a men’s doubles with me alongside him. That would be nice.”
The Japan team are led by Park Joo Bong, another great name in the world of badminton. The Korean is a master of the art of doubles, as you would expect from a former World, Olympic and All England champion.
He also just happens to be a former England National doubles coach and Nathan remembers his time over here. “We have had some great Asian coaches during my career and Park helped me a lot to improve my game during my early 20s,” he said.
Team England’s match tomorrow (Friday) will be followed by another fixture at Loughborough on Saturday. The matches are sponsored by the world’s No 1 badminton brand Yonex in conjunction with the University of Bath and Loughborough University and Team England have selected just about their strongest line-up.
Robertson will be in action with Anthony Clark in the men’s doubles and the former European silver medallists are in good form after winning England’s first Super Series title at the Singapore Open in June. The pair are up to No 10 in the world in this week’s rankings.
Kellogg, who has twice won the European women’s doubles title, will partner Jenny Wallwork in both matches while Andrew Smith will take the men’s singles and Elizabeth Cann the women’s singles.
Team England are supported by Center Parcs, the leader in the UK short break holiday market, and Colin Whaley, Sales & Marketing Director at Center Parcs, said of Robertson’s achievement in reaching 100 caps: “Center Parcs is very proud to be the official partner of Team England and I know all of the staff at our four villages will join me to congratulate Nathan on his fantastic achievement. Nathan joins a very exclusive list of names and we are delighted to be able to associate ourselves with not only Nathan, but the rest of Team England and we wish the team the very best of luck against Japan.”
The matches will be played under the five-match Sudirman Cup format of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and one mixed doubles.
Center Parcs-supportedTeam England:
Men’s singles: Andrew Smith (Hants, age 25, 32 caps). World ranking 28.
Women’s singles: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey, age 30, 27 caps). World ranking: 40.
Men’s doubles: Anthony Clark (Notts, age 31, 91 caps) & Nathan Robertson (Notts, age 32, 100 caps). World ranking: 10
Women’s doubles: Donna Kellogg (Derby, age 31, 87 caps) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks, age 22, caps 20). World ranking: –
Mixed doubles: Clark & Kellogg (World ranking: 13) and Robertson & Wallwork (World ranking:
Coaches: Pete Jeffrey, Julian Robertson.
Men: Kenta Kazuno, Kenichi Hayakawa, Noriyasu Hirata, Hirokatsu Hashimoto, Kenichi Tago and Sho Sasaki. Women: Mizuki Fujii, Reika Kakiiwa, Shizuka Matsuo, Mami Naito, Eriko Hirose and Ai Goto.
Team manager: Park Joo Bong. Coaches: Fumihiko Machida, Keita Masuda.
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