A SPOT in the men’s singles final proved a step too far for Toby Penty, but he was just happy to back feeling like his old self at the English National Badminton Championships at the weekend.

Since exiting the World Championships in the second round in August, Penty has been sidelined with a tendon tear in his knee.

However, the 21-year-old No.2 seed fought his way back to fitness in time for the Milton Keynes showpiece.

He showed no signs of rust as he marched into the semi-finals without dropping a game.

However, that was where his journey ended as he lost 18-21 21-13 24-22 to No.4 seed Sam Parsons.

Despite just missing out on the final, Penty, from Walton-on-Thames, was left toasting a job well done after proving he is somewhere back to his best after a lengthy lay-off.

“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.

“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 he came through the National Championships unscathed couldn’t have been better timed with the European Championships taking place later this week.

Tickets for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the NIA in Birmingham are available at www.allenglandbadminton.com or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.