Photo: Badmintonphoto
Jessica Pugh: It feels very weird
Date: 5/9/2020 11:50 AM
Published by : BEC staff

For a multitude of reasons, 2020 has been a year of change for many badminton players. One such player is England’s Jessica Pugh, who shares with us her thoughts about her big change. 

Pugh, 23, first came onto the scene five years ago when winning the bronze at the European Junior Championships in mixed doubles with Ben Lane. The promising pair went onto to win seven titles together. However, this partnership is no more. Explaining this decision, Pugh states. 

- Ben and I achieved some good things and we definitely have bigger goals! Our coaches decided it would be best for us all to focus on one event, therefore in training we give 100 per cent attention to that partner and that event to maximise our improvement. Before, I had already just been playing mixed doubles and Ben was playing two events, so the training was always split between both, which meant our mixed doubles as a pair was improving slower than we would like. So, the coaches decided for Ben to focus on men’s doubles and I was to play with someone new who would be playing just mixed doubles.

This partner is now Callum Hemming, 20, who in 2019 showed a lot of promise playing with multiple partners in both men’s and mixed doubles. Talking about how the last six months have been for her, Pugh says. 

- The past half a year has been challenging for me, I have entered into a new partnership where I am the older more experienced one, even though I am also still not the most experienced player which makes it harder! So, I’m learning to be a leader in a partnership, at first, I found it hard because not only had I not been the older one in a partnership but I also have never switched partners before at all. So, the challenge of starting from scratch with someone new and having to build it all again has been really challenging for me, but I believe in the long run it will make me a much more rounded player and also person off court too!

The pair have only played one tournament together in 2020, at the Barcelona Spain Masters, where they defeated a solid pair in Germany’s Geiss/ Moszczynski, before being knocked out by the experienced pair of Ivanov and Bolotova. 

Read: Robin Tabeling: This was something I was hoping for

Building a new partnership

As mentioned by Pugh, she had not changed partner before in her career. Describing this alien feeling, Pugh says. 

- It feels very weird as I was playing with Ben since we were both 10 years old. We’re still friends and train together at the National Centre! I think most pairs in England who have been super successful have had experience with different partners and that has shaped them and made them even better players.

Lastly, after settling in to her new-look partnership, Pugh lays out her plans moving forward. 

- The plan for me is to build on my new partnership and look to the future with long term goals in mind! We have been training a lot. Of course, it’s been made very difficult at the moment because of the Coronavirus, we’ve lost chances of getting points to begin with and we’re not currently able to train on court. But our goal is the Paris 2024 Olympics and we’re going to work very hard to achieve that! 

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