Ahead of her YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships bow, Sheffield’s Chloe Birch insists she can definitely see the improvements she is making out on the court.
Despite being aged just 19, Birch is no stranger to the big stage and has already represented Great Britain, having been selected for the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
The one major competition Birch is yet to tick off is the YONEX All England, however that will all change in just under a month’s time when she takes to the court at Birmingham’s refurbished Barclaycard Arena to take on the great and good from around the world.
And Birch, who started playing at Abbeydale Badminton Club aged just eight years old, will arrive in Birmingham full of confidence after an impressive English National Championship at the end of last month.
Birch reached the semi-finals of the singles - losing out to number one seed Fontaine Chapman - while she and Jenny Wallwork lost out to eventual women’s doubles champions Lauren Smith and Heather Olver in a thrilling quarter-final.
And it is performances like this that give Birch the belief that she is heading in the right direction: “The Nationals went quite well,” she said.
“In the doubles we performed really well but we were just a bit unlucky with the draw.
“We came up against the number one seeds Heather and Lauren in the quarter-finals which was pretty tough.
“But it was a really good game, it went to three sets and it was a really close game and I thought that me and Jenny played really, really well.
“So that is nice when we haven’t been playing much together and she hasn’t been training that much so that was really good. In the singles I played really well. The semi-final I didn’t play as well against Fontaine but she played really, really well so all credit to her but I was pleased with how well I got on and where I got to.
“I feel that I have improved. My touch and control has definitely improved and I feel that you can now see it in matches now. I feel I still need to make some further improvements but it is definitely getting a lot better than it was so I feel that is really helping my game.”
The Yonex All England, taking place between March 3-8, is the first Superseries Premier event of 2015 and features all the world’s best players.
And Birch can’t wait to rub shoulders with the best of them after a difficult end to 2014.
“I am coming off the back of a tricky six months with different situations,” she said.
“And now I am coming out on the other side and getting some good performances in and really feeling good in training and matches now so things are going really well.
“It settled down after Christmas a little bit and then now the tournaments start coming thick and fast again so it is about making sure that we get enough training sessions in in the week before we go in and compete and that we are really sharp and ready for the matches. And what better way to start this busy period than my first All England? I am really looking forward to it.”
Tickets for the YONEX All England 2015 at the stunning new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham are available at allenglandbadminton.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.