Walton-on-Thames badminton ace Toby Penty praises Birmingham Lions win after back-to-back defeats

Birmingham Lions captain Toby Penty praised his side’s resilience as they bounced back from two consecutive defeats to triumph 3-2 against a strong Bristol Jets’ challenge.

Hosts Bristol Jets, playing their first ever AJ Bell National Badminton League home fixture at the city’s SGS Wise Arena, welcomed a Lions side still hurting from back-to-back defeats against Team Derby and Loughborough Lightning.

Bristol Jets, one of two new AJ Bell NBL teams this year, are themselves still waiting for their first victory of their inaugural season, having fallen to Team Derby and Suffolk Saxons earlier in the campaign.

But for men’s singles player Penty, Monday’s victory in the West Country is a turning point for his side – the reigning AJ Bell NBL champions – with this season’s Championship Final now less than a month away.

“It’s really good for us to get a win,” he said. “We’d had two back-to-back defeats.

“The one against Loughborough we could have easily won, and the fixture against Derby was very, very close.

“We’ve had a little bit of hard luck this season, so hopefully that will change now and we have a win on our backs going into the tie with Surrey Smashers.

“My win [in the men’s singles] was good, particularly in the first two games because I was really happy with how I played.

“The third game was a little bit trickier, but it was a good performance overall.”

The Lions got off to the perfect start away from home, with Heather Olver and Jenny Wallwork taking top honours in the women’s doubles with a 6-9 9-5 6-9 4-9 victory over Emily Westwood and Mizuki Fujii.

But Bristol Jets immediately got themselves back into contention in a tight men’s doubles encounter, with captain Chris Coles and Richard Eidestedt prevailing in the tie-break to defeat Frederik Colberg and Gary Fox 5-9 3-9 9-6 9-3 (5-3).

Penty swung the fixture back in the Lions’ favour, defeating Alex Lane in straight sets in the men’s singles, before Fontaine Chapman wrapped up the overall victory for the visitors, triumphing 9-7 8-9 9-8 4-9 0-3 over Nicola Cerfontyne.

But Bristol Jets were determined to spoil the Lions’ party, and ended the night on a high with a dominant straight sets victory for Ben Lane and Westwood over Colberg and Catherine Grant in the mixed doubles.

The AJ Bell National Badminton League final takes place on 8 February at centre:mk in Milton Keynes, offering a great value family evening out.

Tickets to see the league’s top two teams go head to head to be champions can be booked at  

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