Third straight national final defeat for Worksop’s Sam Walker

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Sam Walker cut a disconsolate figure after losing in the men’s singles final for the third year in a row at the PG Mutual National Championships.

The Worksop athlete, fresh from playing a key role in England’s bronze medal at the Team World Cup a week earlier, kept up his good form, holding off fifth seed Chris Doran in six games in the quarter-finals and then defeating England team-mate David McBeath 4-1 (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8) in the semis.

Walker’s opponent in the final was Liam Pitchford, who he had beaten in the last four in 2016 and 2017 before losing the final on both occasions to Paul Drinkhall.

And although Walker took the first game, Pitchford continued his own scintillating World Cup form by coming back to win 4-1 (8-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6).

Walker’s stark assessment was: “He played good, I played bad – I’ll try again next year.

“I don’t know what changed after the first game, I just don’t know. I thought I’d processed losing in the final the last two years – maybe I don’t deserve it yet and I just have to work harder and try again.”

There was no joy for Walker in the men’s doubles either as he teamed up with Pitchford to face Drinkhall & McBeath in the final, only to lose 3-1 (11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1).

In the mixed doubles, Walker & Denise Payet lost 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-2) in the semi-finals to McBeath & Kelly Sibley.

Walker has now flown to Qatar to compete in the World Tour event there this week as preparations continue for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.