Badminton: Unseeded Leeds starlets net Italian title

Marcus Ellis.
Marcus Ellis.
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LEEDS’ latest badminton star Marcus Ellis is looking forward to indulging in a few home comforts over Christmas after ending 2014 on a high with victory at the Italian International.

Ellis and his partner Chris Langridge caused an upset as the unseeded pair beat Germany’s top seeds Michael Fuchs and Johannes Schoettler 21-11, 21-19 to win their first ever tournament title.

The 25-year-old only teamed up with Langridge in September but they triumphed in the men’s doubles without dropping a single game throughout the whole tournament.

Ellis admits it is the perfect end to the year and will now look to make the most of some rare time off.

He said: “It’s a really big positive for us.

“We were actually in two minds whether to compete or not as we had such a hectic schedule leading up to the competition.

“I thought we performed really well throughout and got our reward in the end which was brilliant.

“I’m looking forward to just spending some time with my friends and family now though.

“We spend that much time travelling around the world that we don’t get to see them much so Christmas is perfect to catch up with everyone.”

While Ellis was born in Huddersfield, he grew up playing badminton in Leeds and credits the city with one of the strongest set-ups in the country.

After being introduced to the sport by his dad when he was aged just six, Ellis would travel to Leeds to train at least four times a week.

A number of badminton players have come out of the city in recent years, including Commonwealth gold medallist Gabby Adcock.

Ellis said: “A lot of the best players seem to have come out of not just Yorkshire but Leeds in particular. It’s not just the players, the coaches there are some of the best in the country too. I’d have to say the set-up in Leeds is as good as there is. It’s pretty weird really. There are about four players that all went to the same school as well!”

Ellis has confirmed that he will continue his partnership with Langridge following their recent success, and they are now targeting the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships which will take place at Birmingham’s NIA Arena in March.

He expects the competition to be tough, but is aware that if he wants to move on to the next level then he needs to make an impression at these kind of tournaments.

“There’s some really good English players out there now and it would be my first nationals title but you have to go there confident and thinking you can win them,” he added.

“Chris and I have really settled and have been playing some good stuff so will be giving it a good go.”

Of course it’s impossible not to mention the Olympic Games, which will next be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Some sportsmen prefer not to think about such a major event in case it puts too much pressure on themselves but Ellis happily admits that it is on his mind and is excited about the challenge which lays ahead.

Last year he was ranked 18th in the world in the mixed doubles category and has also reached the top 20 in the men’s doubles in the past.

He said: “Of course I’m targeting that. It has been on our minds for quite a few months now. Before you know it, it will be time for qualification to start up so until then I need to work on getting my rankings up and starting climbing them ladders again.

“I won’t start worrying about it though. It’s not until 2016 so obviously that year is the year to do it.”

Watch Marcus live in action at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships on March 3-8, 2015. Tickets are now on sale at allenglandbadminton.com/tickets/info