Badminton: Hardaker heads list of hopefuls

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The Independent Online
England's successes against China during their six match tour have been encouraging the home manager, Ciro Ciniglio, to feel he can hand over to his successor next summer with the most promising squad for several years.

The home country went into last night's fourth match of the series at St Austell with another new teenage hopeful, Sarah Hardaker, to add to those who did so well in the 4-1 victory at Boston on Friday.

That success put England 2-1 ahead in the series with three matches to play and Ciniglio now believes that several of the dozen or so youngsters knocking on the door may make international standard players. Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms made highly encouraging winning debuts and the former England No 1, Joanne Muggeridge, looked a new player after having lost two stone in weight.

Peter Bush also won well at Boston, and the debutant Mark Constable showed promise in defeat at Gateshead on Thursday, creating hopes that England's dearth of good-class singles players will not continue too much longer. If so, the future may be tough for the likes of the out-of-favour national champion, Anders Nielsen, and the former national runner-up, Peter Knowles, but much better for the former national champion, Steve Baddeley, who returns from Switzerland after the Olympic Games to take over the difficult managerial position from Ciniglio.