Tough National Badminton League debut for Mansfield’s Emily Witts

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Mansfield’s Emily Witts admits she struggled to adapt to the quick-fire nature of the AJ Bell National Badminton League after making her debut in the competition as a late replacement.

Witts only found out she would be replacing University of Nottingham Badminton team-mate Ellen Mahenthiralingham on the morning of Monday night’s fixture against Birmingham Lions.

And the 18-year-old was taking part in a competition that is unlike any other in UK badminton.

PowerPlays – where double points are available – and Time outs are used and it only involves five nine-point matches.

It is in its second year and is the only place where you see under-19 stars coming up against Olympians, like world number seven Chris Adcock, who is captain of University of Nottingham.

Witts played alongside Cheryl Seinen at University of Birmingham’s Great Hall but they lost the deciding match in straight sets against Anita Kaur and two-time national champion Sarah Walker as the hosts won 3-2 in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Witts said: “I played all right but it was not what I expected. It was so quick; the nine points were over before you knew it.

“I was trying to adapt to that but I didn’t have the time to do it so hopefully next time I can start quicker and can get in from the beginning.

“It was my first NBL game and I have never played in anything like it before or in front of such a big crowd, who were very vocal in supporting their team which makes it harder for us.

“I only found out this morning that I was playing so it was a shock.

“I was looking forward to it but I was nervous. I had not played in front of the TV cameras before, which was exciting in the build-up but once I was out there I forgot about it.”

Witts is studying maths at University of Nottingham, whereas many of the players in the NBL are full-time athletes.

So the former Brunts Academy pupil was philosophical when asked about what she hoped to achieve in the sport.

“I just want to play well in all my matches and wherever that takes me it takes me,” Witts said.

“Hopefully I will get another chance to play in the NBL and hopefully I will get the win.

“I am studying at university at the moment and I have BUCS matches every Wednesday and we are hoping to win the league.

“I play around England in competitions and I am already working towards the Nationals in February.”

For NBL fixtures, tickets and team news visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @NBL_official.