A spot in the men’s singles final proved a step too far for Toby Penty, but he admits he was just happy to back feeling like his old self again at the English National Badminton Championships, writes Chris Bailey.
Ever since exiting the August World Championships in the second round, Penty has been sidelined with a tendon tear in his knee.
Yet the Walton 21-year-old number two seed fought his way back to fitness in time to strut his stuff in Milton Keynes at the 2014 National Championships on Saturday.
And he showed no signs of rust as he marched into the semi-finals without dropping a game before losing 18-21 21-13 24-22 to number four seed Sam Parsons.
But despite just missing out on a spot in the showpiece, Penty was left toasting a job well done after proving he is somewhere back to is best after a lengthy lay-off.
“It was good, I thought the crowd started to warm to me a bit,” he said.
“At the start it felt like they all wanted him [Sam] to win, but I think people realise how tough it’s been the last six months.
“I was really struggling in the third set, but to get back into it and give people a better game was a nice feeling.
“I was just trying to enjoy it at the end and play with a smile on my face. I realised that win or lose, I have played great so it’s OK and just move onto next week.
“I think he’s a decent player but I think I’m better than him. I’ve just got to get my confidence back, get my play back on court and see if I can get back to where I was.”
The fact that Penty came through the National Championships unscathed could not have been better timed with the European Championships taking place in France later this week.
And he cannot wait to continue to blow away the cobwebs as he bids for a big year.
“I shouldn’t have lost this match, but this is just what happens and fair play to Sam, he played a smart game,” Penty added.
“At least it’s something else to concentrate on because at the moment I want the ground to swallow me up a bit, but I’ll have something to take my mind off it and hopefully I can play a bit better for the team next week at the Europeans.
“I’ll move on and hopefully in six months I’ll have another big win under my name.”
* Tickets for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the NIA in Birmingham are available at allenglandbadminton.com or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.