Sam Walker plays his final junior tournament in Morocco this week, as he takes on the best young players in the world.
The Worksop teenager is in action at the 2013 World Junior Championships, in Rabat, and was scheduled to begin his assault on the boys singles titles today (Thursday).
He was drawn in group three, alongside China’s Juan Lamadrid and Egyptyian Aly Ghallab.
The 18-year-old is hoping to cap a fantastic domestic and international season with a big showing in Northern Africa.
The reigning English Under 18 and Under 21 champion said: “It will be my last tournament as a junior player, and obviously it would be really great to win medals.”
“I will give 100 per cent on trying to get as far as I can.”
Once his Moroccon challenge is over, Walker’s next target will be making the steup up to challenge the top senior players in the world.
Having improved his world ranking from 680th to 338th, he doesn’t think it’s a leap too far.
“I don’t think there’s a massive difference between my highest level and the top players level,” he said.
“I believe I can beat anyone on my day, I think the difference is the top players are more consistent in their level.”
“I’ve just got to keep trying to play at that level all the time.”
“I can see it in training and I’m training with top players day in day out, so I believe that I can be at that level too.”
That training that he values so much takes place in Germany, where he is based full-time with professional club TTC Selingenstadt.
Playing in the German third division Walker has become a force to be reckoned with at senior level.
Describing life as a professional in Europe he said: “I’ve felt really confident in my German matches this year.”
“I’m playing in the as the number one in my team and so far I’ve won 11 and only lost one and the team are fourth in the league.”
“I’m training with the Bundesliga club TTC Zugbrücke Grenzau and its perfect for me.”
“I’m playing with players like Andrej Gacina and Kaii Yoshida most days.”
“They’re not only great to practice with but they’re always there giving tips and helping us all out. “
“Gacina especially is a great role model for me and its fantastic to have someone like him in the hall for me to look up to.”
Walker has broken into the England senior squad this year, after reaching the semi-finals of the National Men’s Singles, and winning his first International Table Tennis Federation title in Malta.
Those results saw him selected for both the European Championships and European Youth Top Ten events, which proved to be an invaluable learning curve for the youngster.
He said: “It was great to play in them, both were fantastic experiences and had amazing atmospheres - especially the Europeans.”