Sam Walker is looking ahead to next year’s Commonwealth Games after a promising run to the last 16 of the doubles at the World Championships.
The Worksop athlete Walker and England team-mate David McBeath won four matches to set up a clash with 12th seeds Chien-An Chen and Cheng-Ting Liao of Taipei for a place in the quarter-finals.
They made a slow start but fought their way back before going down 4-2 (11-5, 11-5, 11-5, 3-11, 13-15, 11-7) to opponents ranked 31 and 100 in the world, compared with Walker and McBeath at 138 and 221 respectively.
Earlier, there had been a scare in the second qualifying match, in which they trailed 2-0, 9-7 to Clarence Chew & Ethan Poh of Singapore before turning it around to reach the main draw.
There, they beat Gaston Alto & Horacio Cifuentes of Argentina 4-0 (11-8, 11-4, 11-8, 13-11) in the last 64 and France’s Simon Gauzy & Quentin Robinot 4-2 (11-9, 11-6, 14-12, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8) in the round of 32.
“Before the tournament we were quite a new pairing and I don’t think anybody really expected us to make it that far,” said 22-year-old Walker.
“I don’t think we even played our best and there’s a lot more to work on and improve. It’s promising times for us as a pair.
“We were almost out of it at 2-0 and 9-7 down to the Singapore pair in qualifying but we managed to turn it around and win and that gave us a lot of confidence.
“We started a bit slowly in the last 16 and maybe got the tactics wrong at the beginning but by the end we looked as good as them, if not better.
“There’s definitely promise there but we’ve got to work hard in the practice hall and I think we’ll have as good a chance as anyone at the Commonwealths.”
It made up for a disappointing exit for Walker in the singles where he was beaten in his first match in the last 128.
Up against world No 57 Jakub Dyjas of Poland, Walker led 3-1 but saw his opponent come back to win 4-3 (11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8).
“I’m disappointed but not frustrated,” said Walker. “He changed his tactics and upped his game, so credit to him.”
Walker, who plays in the Bundesliga for ASV Grunwettersbach, feels he was getting back to his best form in recent weeks and added: “I’m looking forward to a nice summer but equally looking forward to next season. The back end of this season has been a lot better than the early part or the middle and I’m looking forward to building on that for next season.”