Tokyo trip for table tennis teen

ETTA Nationals Sheffield, Sunday 2nd March 2014'   Sam Walker
ETTA Nationals Sheffield, Sunday 2nd March 2014' Sam Walker

Worksop’s Sam Walker has earned a place in the England squad for the World Team Championships next month.

The 18-year-old is off to Tokyo, Japan, after impressing selectors, hoping to help his country to a long sought-after promotion to the Championships Division – the top tier of world table tennis.

Walker joins national champions Liam Pitchford and Joanna Drinkhall, along with Andrew Baggaley, Paul Drinkhall, Kelly Sibley, Hannah Hicks and 15-year-old Tin-Tin Ho – who partnered the Worksop teenager to glory in the Mixed Doubles at the English National Championships in Sheffield.

A former Redlands and Valley student, Walker can’t wait to pull on the England shirt, although he admits the hard work starts, rather than ends, with selection.

He said: “I’m really pleased to say I’ve been selected to represent England in Tokyo.”

“But it’s just the start.”

At the last team world championships, held in Dortmund in 2012, neither the men nor women could earn a place at the highest level.

The men came the closest and only missed out following a 3-2 defeat to India, while the women suffered at the hands of Italy and India in the group stages to cut short their campaign.

An impressive outing in Japan will stand Walker in good stead for selection for the biggest tournament of the year – the Commonwealth Games.

The World Team Championships act as the final major event in consideration before the final squads for the Commonwealths in Glasgow are announced.

Walker is one of several English players currently playing professionally in Germany, where he has managed to develop his game with club TTC Selingenstadt.

He also trains with Bundesliga club TTC Zugbrücke Grenzau