Wimbledon badminton player relishing upcoming Team Derby clash

Wimbledon’s Toby Penty is looking forward to a clash with AJ Bell National Badminton League champions Team Derby next up, after his Birmingham Lions side continued their impressive start to the season with a 3-2 victory away at MK Badminton on Monday.

The hosts had edged the clash 3-2 last season, but were no match for Penty’s side this time around with the scores reversed.

Penty himself had won in the men’s singles, beating MK’s national champion Sam Parsons, before Fontaine Chapman swept aside Caroline Westley and in the women’s doubles Anita Kaur and Sarah Walker’s triumphed over MK’s Swedish debutant Clara Nistad and Marie Roepke.

The result could have been worse for the home side but for Gordon Thomson and Sophie Sankey, who won the mixed doubles over James Lauder and Catherine Grant, while alongside youngster Sean Vendy, skipper Mills edged Gary Fox and Koen Ridder out of a thrilling men’s doubles contest.

That makes it two wins from two for Birmingham Lions, and former Halliford School pupil Penty believes his side are on course for the AJ Bell NBL play-offs after such a promising start.

“It was a great result,” said the 23-year-old English number two. “I think coming into this match, on paper it could have gone either way, so to go 3-0 up and have the comfort of putting at least three points on the board was massive.

“So I’m very happy, even though perhaps there is a slight bit of disappointment not to have won by more in the end.

“When you’re far ahead it can be easy to let them back into it, but I thought their crowd really perked up and got behind their team who played well in the last couple of matches.

“But at the end of the day with 3-2 we are going to be near the top of the league and that’s the main thing.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum now going into a clash with Team Derby next up, and we are really looking forward to going to their place and seeing what we can do against last year’s champions.

“They are the reigning champions and will be at home, so they will have all the pressure on them. We have put a gap between us and some of the sides below us now so we can just play a bit more freely and enjoy it.”

Penty has been a revelation for the Birmingham Lions so far this season having made a summer switch from MK Badminton, and is two from two so far in the AJ Bell NBL this term.

He kicked off the evening’s events by locking horns with Parsons; a repeat of the quarter-finals of the 2015 national championships where Parsons won 21-19 21-18.

But Penty was in imperious form, making no mistake on his way to a 9-6 9-4 9-6 victory – and with Birmingham Lions recording no men’s singles victories last season his form is making the difference this year.

He added: “I was really happy to get the team off to a great start and I think the first game is always really important.

“I didn’t know I was going on first so that put the pressure on as well as being captain, but I think I’m dealing with it well.

“I’m four from four in the AJ Bell NBL now so I’m really happy. It’s a big confidence booster for me as well beating Sam as I was 2-0 down to him our own head-to-head, but I’m looking forward to plenty more battles to come with him.

“It’s starting to look like this scoring system really suits me, so hopefully as the season goes on I can play even better as there a still big matches to come.”

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