Sam Walker won silver and bronze medals at the PG Mutual National Championships, but a first Men’s Singles title still eludes the Worksop ace.
Third seed Walker had high hopes going into the event at the University of Nottingham and he reached the semi-finals with a solid 4-2 (11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8) victory over Tom Jarvis, the Team GB reserve at the Rio Olympics.
His opponent in the last four was fellow Olympian and second seed Paul Drinkhall, who Walker had never beaten. It looked as if that duck would be broken as Walker led three times, only for Drinkhall to pull out a 4-3 (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 2-11, 11-1, 11-8), leaving Walker to settle for a bronze medal as a losing semi-finalist.
Walker, 23, said: “The result, I’m disappointed with. In terms of the way I’m playing, I’m quite happy with that. The stuff I’ve been working on is showing, especially in the game against Paul, which is positive. We know each other’s games and to see it’s working against them and I’m progressing is a positive.
“For a lot of years I’ve been there or thereabouts but not quite managed to do it. But there’s one a year, so there’s plenty of chances.”
In the Men’s Doubles, Walker again reached the final, alongside David McBeath, where they faced Drinkhall & Liam Pitchford, the Commonwealth Games gold medallists.
And again it went with seeding as Drinkhall & Pitchford won it 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-5), though the first set was tight up to 8-8.
Walker said: “They played better than us today, but if we had taken the first set it’s a different story, because pressure is a big part of it and they wouldn’t have been able to play the same way in the second and third.”
Walker next heads to the Spanish Open and the Qatar Open later this month, ahead of the World Championships in Budapest in April.