MK Badminton are out to cause some upsets

Pic: Googabuphotos
Pic: Googabuphotos

Coach Jurgen van Leeuwen says his MK Badminton side hope to pull off a few more shock results during the course of the National Badminton League season.

Toby Penty and Jess Pugh led MK’s fight back, pulling off a shock win over Chris Adcock and Chloe Magee in last Monday’s NBL win over University of Nottingham - the first of the season for MK.

For van Leeuwen, it was the culmination of a lot of hard work with the young side, twinned with an air of surprise.

“We have had to peel them off the ceiling last week,” he said “It was an amazing result, but it wasn’t one many people expected us to pull off.

“We aren’t able to get together that often. All of the players have individual tournaments to play in and represent their counties regularly, so to get them all together to represent Milton Keynes is tough.”

MK Badminton is an extremely young team, compared with some of the others competing for the NBL title.

For van Leeuwen, picking the cream of the youngsters during the team selection phase was something they consciously decided upon.

“We are a young team,” he admitted. “Unlike the other teams, we don’t have major university backing, so it has made it tougher for us.

“But unlike some of the others, we haven’t gone out there all guns blazing to try and win the league.

“We’re trying to blood younger talent, and upset a few teams along the way.”

As a result, they’re not aiming, as such, at landing the inaugural NBL title.

Instead, they’re hoping to go under the radar, springing a few surprises along the way.

Van Leeuwen said: “If we can get into the final stages, in the top four, I think it will be a huge achievement.

“We’ve set our aims high, and it’s ambitious, but I think we can cause a few upsets along the way.

“Not many people see us as a huge threat for the NBL title, but I think if we don’t get an absolute thrashing by anyone, we’ll be happy with the season.

“To have already caused an upset is a great achievement.”

While they’re relying on youth to help them pick up results, MK’s skipper Peter Mills adds some much needed experience to the side.

Along with playing partner Paul van Rietvelde, they are unbeaten in their two NBL matches.

Mills, who picked up two medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer, has been an influential character in the dressing room, according to his coach, and is a vital member of the squad.

“Peter is a great captain. He has a lot of experience, and I was delighted we could get someone of his calibre in the auction, because it really showed our intentions for the season.

“He’s great with the young players, he knows what they’re going through and can help them develop. He brings everyone together.”

MK aren’t back in action now until January, missing out on the December round of fixtures with a bye-week.

However, after the huge win over Nottingham, van Leewen believes his side can carry that momentum into their next game.

He said: “We can certainly draw on it before the next game, because it was such a huge result that it’ll still be in the back our minds when we get together next.”