Sam and England miss out in Lisbon

Sam Walker in action
Sam Walker in action
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Worksop table tennis ace Sam Walker has spoken of his disappointment at missing out on promotion with England, in the European Team Championships in Lisbon.

Both the men’s and women’s teams had high hopes of finishing in 17th place, which would have won the Challenge Division and sealed promotion to the Championship.

Such a feat would also have sealed qualification for the inaugural European Games in Baku next summer.

Both won their groups to move into the play-off stages, but respective defeats in their opening play-off matches condemned them to remain in the second tier.

The women ended the event in 21st place and the men in 23rd.

Walker, 19, played in two group matches, and had the responsibility of sealing qualification in the deciding fifth game of the match against Finland.

The Finns had unexpectedly taken England the distance, but Walker beat Roope Kantola 11-5, 11-5, and 11-6 to ensure his country topped the group.

However, the play-off stages did not go as planned, as first Belgium and then Slovenia beat England, leaving them to overcome Turkey to clinch 23rd place.

Walker lost both matches against Slovenia but ended on a high, winning twice against Turkey.

The former Outwood Academy Valley student was disappointed not to showcase his best table tennis.

He said: “It’s not been our best, but we gave everything we had.”

“I personally didn’t play at the level that I wanted to play, but we still won our group and got to the quarter-finals. “

“We gave everything we had but they played a strong match.”

“We’re all disappointed but we’ve had a good year and we know we will come back stronger.

He was pleased, however, that he got better as the Championships went on.

Walker added: “I was disappointed to lose my first match against Finland but I was happy I managed to play well and do enough to win the last match.

“I was happy that my performances improved through the tournament but there are a lot of improvements to make.”

With international duty out of the way, Walker will now get back to concentrating on his ‘domestic’ action in Germany, playing for ASV Grünwettersbach.

The teenager moved to Germany after his GCSEs to become a full-time player.