Susan Pound was born on December 11, 1942, in Swanley, England. Her first taste of success came in the form of a Girls’ Doubles title with Anita Price at the 1961 English National Junior Championships. Pound was married in 1968 to Paul Whetnall. Pound took on her husband’s surname and began competing as Susan Whetnall. Her husband was a very successful English player in his own right and would win numerous international titles in the 1960s and 1970s. The pair even competed in the short-lived Married Couples Tournament held at Ebbisham Badminton Club in Epsom, England.
Susan Whetnall won her first international title in Women’s Doubles with Margaret Boxall at the 1967 Irish Open. The next year, she won the Mixed Doubles title with Tony Jordan at the 1968 All England. This was only her second international title at that time. Her All England title quickly catapulted her into the spotlight. Whetnall continued 1968 with a double crown at the European Championships with her partners, Boxall and Jordan. She added 1 more title at the Dutch Open with Boxall in Women’s Doubles and another title with Jordan at the Scottish Open to finish off a very successful 1968.
Whetnall and Boxall also represented England at the 1968-1969 Uber Cup tournament. The pair contributed a point to the team tie but England fell 3-4 in the second round to Indonesia. The next year, Whetnall and Boxall competed at the All England and walked away with the prestigious title. They would return the following year and successfully defend their title for a second consecutive year.
Whetnall quickly became a regular visitor to the highest step of the podium across the world.
From 1968 to 1970, Whetnall collected a total of 23 international individual titles.
She won 14 Women’s Doubles titles with Boxall – Dutch Open (1968, 1970), European Championships (2 consecutive titles - 1968, 1970), Belgian International (1969), Irish Open (1969), Scottish Open (1969, 1970), South African Championships (1969), Swedish Open (1969), Canadian Open (1970), and All England (1969, 1970) and even the Commonwealth Games (1970).
Parallel to their international career and despite their many travels, Whetnall and Boxall still managed to maintain a 4-year reign at the English National Championships from 1967-1970.
In the same period, 1968-1970, Whetnall also managed to win 8 Mixed Doubles titles. She won 5 titles with Jordan and the rest with different partners. Along with her usual Women’s Doubles victories and apart from the 1968 All England title previously mentioned, her partnership with Jordan brought her a double crown at the 1968 European Championships and Irish Open as well as a title at the World Invitation Tournament in 1969. Whetnall doubled crowned again at the following 1970 European Championships with David Eddy. She also double crowned on 3 other separate occasions – 1969 Scottish Open with Roger Mills, 1970 Canadian Open with Ippei Kojima, 1970 European Championships with David Eddy.
At the 1970 Dutch Open, she won the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles titles.
In 1971, Susan Whetnall and a handful of English players – her husband Paul, Ray Sharp, Margaret Boxall and Tina Barinaga of the USA – turned professional and formed a group called Badminton World Wide. Unfortunately, the group was too early for their times and only lasted for a couple of years.
Whetnall came back to international competition in 1974. However, Whetnall accumulated more silver and bronze than gold in her first comeback year. Her streak of silver began at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in which Boxall and Whetnall fell in the finals to younger compatriots, Margaret Beck and Gillian Gilks. Another bronze medal came in the form of Mixed Doubles with Elliot Stuart at the event. At the All England, Whetnall won her 2nd All England title in Mixed Doubles with David Eddy and sought to add one more to her collection. Unfortunately, Whetnall and Boxall lost the title to Beck and Gilks. At the European Championships, Whetnall was part of the gold medal English team that defeated Denmark but, in individual competition, she double silvered in Women’s Doubles with Nora Perry and in Mixed Doubles with Stuart. Her only other title of 1974 came at the Scottish Open with Boxall.
In 1975, Whetnall and Boxall won one title together at the English National Championships. This was their last title together as Whetnall lost her long-time partner to a different type of partnership: marriage. Margaret Boxall became Margaret Allen and retired from competitive badminton. During this year, Whetnall co-authored a coaching manual simply called Badminton with her husband, Paul.
That year would be a transition period for Whetnall. She won a handful of titles with different partners. At the Dutch Open, she doubled crowned with a title in Mixed Doubles with Eddy and Women’s Doubles with Nora Perry. She also won the South African Championships with her husband, Paul, and with Barbara Giles in Women’s Doubles. Whetnall and Giles also won the Swedish Open together.
As an era comes to a close, a new one dawns. The departure of Boxall opened the door to Gillian Gilks who asked Whetnall to play doubles with her. Results from the new partnership came immediately with titles at the All England, Dutch Open, European Championships, German Open Scottish Open and US Open – all in 1976. After winning so many major titles, it was to no one’s surprise that the pair also won the Women’s Doubles event at the English National Championships. The winning streak only lasted a short while as Whetnall followed her husband to Ottawa, Canada. Paul had accepted the posting of national coach to the Canadian team.
In 1977, Whetnall had a son, Andrew, and went back to England while she was pregnant with her second child. In July 1979, a girl was born and named Clair. Upon Whetnall’s move back to England, she returned to teaching part-time at Gravesend Girls Grammar School. Prior to her move to Canada, Whetnall had taught physical education for 12 years.
Even though Whetnall had retired from international events, she participated sporadically in between pregnancies at more local events such as the 1978 European Championships held in Preston, England. At that event, she helped England win the team event against Denmark.
In 1980, Whetnall moved on to the Veterans circuit. She competed at the 1980 badminton Wimbledon Championship with Heather Nielsen and won the event.
Over the course of her international career from 1966-1976, Whetnall won 41 times for England.
She is currently involved in badminton in Kent County as a member of the Supporters Committee which runs fundraising events for the development of players in the county. She is also Tournament Director for the highly successful Kent Masters Gold Tournament on the Veterans Circuit.
Additionally, Whetnall is in charge of 3 badminton groups as an Activities Co-ordinator at a care home. In her spare time, Sue enjoys looking after her two grandchildren and is also involved in her local church where she runs a Keep Fit class.
It is no wonder that Whetnall was rewarded twice by the BWF. The first time was in 2002 when she received the IBF Distinguished Service Award and the second time in 2009, when she was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS (in order by year)
2002 – IBF Distinguished Service Award
2009 – BWF Hall of Fame
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
Badminton (Paul Whetnall and Trevor Leahy)
Badminton Association of England Annual Handbook 1967-1968 Edition
Encyclopaedia of Badminton (Pat Davis)
Gillian Gilks – A Life of Badminton (David Hunn)
Guinness Book of Badminton (Pat Davis)
International Badminton … the first 75 years (BWF)
-- By Yves Lacroix