THE English National Badminton Championships are coming to Winchester for the very first time this weekend.

Westgate Badminton Centre has been selected to host the flagship tournament on February 2/3.

The headline acts are Marcus Ellis, men’s doubles bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and 2017 European champion Rajiv Ouseph.

Ollie Baczala, head coach at the Westgate Performance Centre, will fly the local flag in the men’s doubles and three other Westgate players taking part are Anna Showan (ladies’ doubles), Jo Dix (ladies’ singles) and 17-year-old England international Annie Lado (ladies’ doubles).

In an innovative approach to staging the Championships, Badminton England are handing over the organisational reins to the Hampshire Badminton Association.

The move is intended to reinvigorate relationships between county badminton associations, the local community, volunteers and potential partners.

Winchester becomes the 21st location to host the Nationals in their 54-year history and it’s a golden opportunity for local fans to see top-class badminton on their doorstep.

Adrian Christy, CEO of Badminton England, said: “I am delighted that the Nationals are going out on the road again.

“It is always our intention, wherever possible, to offer badminton fans across the country a chance to see their favourite players up close.

“I am also thrilled that Hampshire Badminton Association has shown such energy and enthusiasm in wanting to bring the Nationals to the wonderful city of Winchester.

“I cannot wait to see the show they put on for the badminton community.” Richard Peters, Westgate Badminton Centre manager, said: “It’s the biggest event we’ve staged by a long way – and hopefully it will be the first of many.

“It’s the first time a county badminton association has been given the honour of hosting the National Championships and it’s something Badminton England want to continue.

“It’s quite nerve-racking, but exciting in equal measure!”

Round one and the quarter-finals will be staged on Saturday, followed by the semi-finals and finals on Sunday.

The English National Badminton Championships remain the pinnacle event on the hugely popular domestic tournament circuit and have courted the very best of domestic badminton since 1964.

In that time more than 100 individual players have won National titles.

Day tickets for the English National Championships at Westgate are priced £11.25 (Saturday) and £16.58 (Sunday), including online booking fee. School/group passes are also available priced £12 per person. For every ten paying group members, the group leader will be admitted free.

For more details go to http:// westgatebadmintoncentre., ring Richard Peters on 01962 444440 or send an email to centre.manager@