Toby Penty was the pick of the English singles performers at the Commonwealth Games, reaching the quarter-finals at the NEC.
Meanwhile, there was also a commendable showing from Games debutant Freya Patel-Redfearn, with the youngest member of England’s nine-person team reaching the third round of the women’s competition.
Twelve months on from his run to the last 16 of the men’s singles at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Penty headed to Birmingham with high hopes of finishing on the podium and was seeded sixth.
This meant receiving a bye into the second round, where he had a comfortable introduction to the competition as he defeated Australia’s Nathan Tang 21-11 21-7.
The 29-year-old was made to dig deeper in round three, however, as he came up against Scotland’s Callum Smith in what was an all-home nations clash.
Penty was pushed all the way in an epic first game before finally prevailing 25-23 but he was more in control in the second as he came through it 21-12 to book a place in the last eight against Srikanth Kidambi of India.
It was that stage where his run came to an end, however, as third seed Kidambi came out on top in two tight games to take the match 21-19 21-17 on the way to claiming the bronze medal.
Penty said: “I just wanted to create some memories to be proud of and look back on.
“You only get one chance of playing at a home Games and I wanted to make it a special experience, especially after last year in Tokyo where I did so well and didn’t have anyone to celebrate with apart from my team-mates.
— Toby Penty (@TobyPenty) July 31, 2022
“Whether I win or lose close matches, to have that appreciation and relationship with the crowd is something very special.”
The gold medal in the men’s singles was eventually won by India’s Lakshya Sen, who defeated Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia in the final.
For 21-year-old Patel-Redfearn, this was her first experience of a multi-sport event and she began it in confident fashion by defeating South Africa’s Johanita Scholtz 21-11 21-12.
It was a similarly comfortable ride against Suhasni Vidanage of Sri Lanka as she came through 21-11 21-14 to book a third-round contest against fourth seed Yeo Jia Min of Singapore.
Yeo proved too dominant in the first game, but Patel-Redfearn put up a good fight in the second before eventually going down 21-2 21-11.
Patel-Redfearn said: “I started slow and the key against her was to come out quickly. I felt a little bit overwhelmed and took back. She played faultlessly really and didn’t give me any points.
“I felt like I didn’t come out with that same drive and speed that I have done previously, which is a shame.
“I have got a long way to go. I am at the beginning of my journey and I think I have just got to go back and keep working on my physical, my speed and my movement and I feel like it will come together.
“I have definitely learned a lot from this week. There are a lot of positives to take away overall.”
Patel-Redfearn’s team-mate Abigail Holden had been scheduled to face Canada’s second seed Michelle Li, who eventually won silver behind gold medalist PV Sindhu of India.
Unfortunately, the 22-year-old English champion was forced to withdraw with a knee injury two weeks before the Games.