Ira impresses in top tournament

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SOUTH Wilts pupil Ira Banerjee held her own against a field of stars at the English National Badminton Championships in Milton Keynes.

The 16-year-old lined up against professional players with a decade’s worth of experience but she defied the odds to reach the women’s doubles semi-finals alongside partner Jessica Pugh.

They handed eventual champions Gabby Adcock and Lauren Smith a rough ride, with the world number 30 pair forced to pull out all the stops in recording a 21-16 21-16 victory.

Banerjee also progressed to the mixed doubles quarterfinals with Matthew Clare, pictured right, to complete a whirlwind tournament for the youngster in front of a bumper crowd at the Stadium mk.

“It feels amazing, I’m so surprised I came this far and it’s great to be able to play against some of the top pairs in England,” said Ira.

“There’s still a lot to be done to become as good and consistent as them, in the near future though it could happen.”

Ira is now turning her attention to junior competitions, with the world juniors in Malaysia coming up.

Tickets for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham are available at allenglandbadminton.com or call 0844 444 9994.

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