RYAN Peniston relished rubbing shoulders with the very best of British tennis.

The 24-year-old, from Great Wakering, was initially first reserve for the ‘Battle of the Brits’ event held at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

But, after an injury to Jack Draper, Peniston was called into action and put up a good fight against Cameron Norrie, Paul Jubb and world number 28 Dan Evans before losing on deciding tie-breaks.

“I wasn’t really expecting to play so to get the call up and be involved has been super exciting,” said Peniston.

“The whole event is definitely one of a kind and it has been incredible to be a part of it.

“Everyone involved in it has done an amazing job.

“The event has been a great success so far from my point of view.

“I know that Jamie Murray put a ton of effort into organising the whole thing and it really shows.”

The tournament, which was shown live on Amazon Prime, took place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Peniston felt that could have been stranger for the other players taking part.

“I am kind of used to playing with not huge crowds on the future and challenger tour but I can imagine it has been very strange for the other guys,” said Peniston.

“The matches that I played in were great experience for me. “They were all tough battles against very good players and I enjoyed the fight.

“Even though I lost I feel that I have learnt from the process.”

And Peniston also thoroughly enjoyed being able to practise with three time grand slam winner Andy Murray.

“It’s been quite surreal,” said Peniston.

“Andy’s a very nice guy who’s also really down to earth.

“I got to practise with him a little bit and was able to appreciate just how well he plays.”

The tennis tournament was the first for the British players since the season was suspended in March.

But Peniston has been doing all he can to stay in the best shape possible.

“Lockdown has been okay to be honest,” said Peniston.

“I’ve been able to keep up my fitness with some running and bodyweight workouts and I was very pumped when the tennis clubs opened up again.”

But Peniston still felt slightly below his best when returning to action.

“I felt a bit rusty as I’m sure everyone did,” said Peniston.

“Tennis players are used to having one or two weeks maximum without a match, so to go over three months without one has been a challenge.

“Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long to play again now.”