Wilmslow’s Matthew Nottingham admits it was a case of mixed emotions after bowing out of the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham.
Nottingham and men’s doubles partner Harley Towler fought valiantly but went down 21-11, 21-18 to Chinese duo Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan in round one of the main draw at the Barclaycard Arena on Wednesday.
Fu and Zhang both picked up gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics, meaning Nottingham and Towler were always going to be heavy underdogs going into the contest.
And while he was pleased to run their illustrious Chinese opponents close, especially in the second set, the 22-year-old, a former pupil at Wilmslow High School, concedes there was disappointment at not delivering a victory for the considerable home support.
“I think most English players and a lot of other players you speak to would say that this is the best tournament we get to play,” said Nottingham.
“A lot of them would say that maybe they’ve (Fu and Zhang) won Olympic gold but they really want to win this as well.
“It’s probably the best tournament there is bar the Olympics and the Worlds and the fans out there were amazing – it was really good.
“But you always hope you can go on to win a tight set and we were point for point with them in that second set – we were in every rally.
“There were just a few key points towards the end of that set that cost us the match.
“They are both Olympic champions, so we knew it was going to be tough but we wanted to get as much court time as we possibly could.
“We knew that if we played the right game then we can compete in the rallies with them which I think we did.”
With a busy few weeks of events ahead, Nottingham knows he and Towler will have to pick themselves up quickly.
Despite travelling the world to play tournaments, the Brits may struggle to find a more vocal, partisan crowd than the one at the Barclaycard Arena.
But Nottingham claims he is confident they can build on the positives from this week’s All England experience and start producing some noteworthy results.
“We’ve got the Swiss Open next week now where we’ve got a tough draw and then after a week off we’re going to Finland and France,” added Nottingham.
“So we’ve got a pretty hectic schedule at the moment but we’re looking forward to competing and if we play like that then we’ll definitely go far.”
Tickets for the YONEX All England 2015 at the stunning new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham are available on the door or online at allenglandbadminton.com.
Main image courtesy of Badminton Photo, with thanks.