Mills backs young team mates

Peter Mills with his MK Badminton team-mates
Peter Mills with his MK Badminton team-mates

MK Badminton captain Peter Mills is confident his side can turn around their poor start to the National Badminton League after a 3-2 defeat to Birmingham Lions on Monday.

The hosts had edged the clash 3-2 last season, but they were no match for Toby Penty’s Birmingham Lions side this time around with the scores reversed.

Penty himself had won in the men’s singles, beating MK’s national champion Sam Parsons, before Fontaine Chapman swept aside Caroline Westley and in the women’s doubles Anita Kaur and Sarah Walker’s triumphed over MK’s Swedish debutant Clara Nistad and Marie Roepke.

The result could have been worse for the home side at Oakgrove School but for Gordon Thomson and Sophie Sankey, who won the mixed doubles, while alongside youngster Sean Vendy, skipper Mills edged a thrilling men’s doubles contest.

And the double Commonwealth Games medallist applauded his side for fighting back when they were staring a whitewash in the face.

“We’re disappointed to lose the match of course, but to take the last two points from 3-0 down is really important,” Mills said.

“We learned last year when we just missed out on the play-offs that you have to be absolutely clinical, so we wanted to make every game count.

“You could see that by how much it meant everyone just to win the last couple of matches, so it’s onwards and upwards hopefully from here.

“We have had a tough start, but we bounced back after a 4-1 loss to start with last year and got a couple of wins, so there’s no reason we can’t do the same again and take some more points in the next match.

“We want to make sure we have the best team we possibly can out against Nottingham as it will be another very tough game.

“If we can raise our level again from tonight then I think we can take some of the singles points as well, which we’ve struggled on so far, and get an overall win.”

The best contest of the evening was saved for last when Mills and Vendy took on Birmingham Lions’ Gary Fox and Koen Ridder in a fiercely competitive match.

With two of the four games going down to a deciding point it was a nail-biting affair for the home crowd, but some aggressive serving from Vendy and consistency from Mills at the back of the court saw them over the line with the score 9-8 7-9 9-6 9-8.

And Mills, who broke his AJ Bell NBL hoodoo with a first victory in five events, believes he and national under-19 champion Vendy had plenty of chemistry on the court.

He added: “It’s the first time Sean and I have actually stepped onto the court together so to come off with a victory, especially in that really tight match, is amazing and I’m thrilled to have won such an important point for MK.”

“To finished the night off like that makes me really happy, and I think we worked really well out there together actually.

“We have a good understanding of the way that we want to play men’s doubles so it did work really well for us, and we settled into that and didn’t make many mistakes.

“I think Sean really does have a lot of talent. You have to give him a bit of a kick sometimes, but you can see clearly the skills that he’s got and he has a lot of promise for the future.”

For NBL fixtures, tickets and team news visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @NBL_official.