Worksop teenager Sam Walker made a big impression in his World Table Tennis Championship debut this week, winning his group and claiming a shock win in the first preliminary round.
The 18-year-old dispatched both New Zealand’s John Cordue and Yemen’s Taha Al-Mahaqueri in straight sets in the group stages in Paris, before going up against a player ranked over 280 places above him in the world.
But Walker was clearly undaunted, sending Denmark’s Kasper Sternberg crashing out of the tournament in a seven-game thriller.
The former Redlands pupil, ranked 502 in the world at men’s senior level, won the first game 13-11, but lost the next two.
He came back to take a narrow win in game four, was comfortable in the fifth, lost the sixth and then battered Sternberg 11-3 in the deciding game.
His World Championships singles adventure came to an end at the hands of Admir Duranspahic from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the second preliminary round.
In the men’s doubles, Walker and Liam Pitchford won their first preliminary round match, but lost in the next stage to a Czech pair.
Playing alongside Joanna Parker in the mixed doubles, Walker suffered defeat to Brazilians Thiago Monteiro and Ligia Silva in the first round.
It’s been an incredible month for Walker, who moved to Germany to become a professional player, as proud dad Steve explained.
“Sam beat the world number 69 player on his 18th birthday in India, at the Commonwealth Championships and took a team bronze.”
“He then got a silver in the doubles, as an unseeded pair with Chris Doran, beating India’s top seeds to make the final.”
Walker’s win over Sharath Kamal Achanta on his 18th birthday ranks right up there as one of Walker’s finest.
He admitted: “It was one of the best results of my career.”
“The Commonwealth Championships were a great experience for me, and I’m just trying to take it all in and show the selectors I can be in the England team.”