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Grantham man appointed coach of England Men's Table Tennis through to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Grantham’s Gavin Evans has been formally appointed as England national men’s coach through to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and is relishing the opportunities ahead.

Gavin, 27, has been working with the team since last October and his position has now been made permanent until the end of the Games by Table Tennis England.

His first task will be to travel to China with England number one Liam Pitchford for the International Table Tennis Federation’s #RESTART series of events – the world number 15 is in the field for the Liebherr Men’s World Cup and the ITTF Finals from November 13. He and Gavin fly out at the end of this month on October 27.

Gavin Evans (left) with Liam Pitchford (42692423)
Gavin Evans (left) with Liam Pitchford (42692423)

Beyond that, there is the World Team Championships to look forward to in February – pandemic permitting – and individual Olympic qualifying events to be scheduled in the spring.

Gavin said: “I’m delighted to be able to continue the work with the senior team and there’s some really exciting times ahead for us leading up to Birmingham – if we’re in a place where we can get a home crowd behind us that would be very special.

“But now it’s about getting in the hall and working with them to give them the best chance to achieve their dreams.

“The #RESTART events are a tremendous opportunity for us to go out there and for Liam to play the best players in the world for a few weeks.”

Originally from Slough, Gavin moved up to Nottingham with his family, but gravitated over to Grantham due to his role as head coach of the very successful table tennis academy at Grantham College.

When asked what he enjoyed most about coaching table tennis, Gavin said: “It’s the competitor in me. I absolutely love waking up in the morning and getting the players ready to be the best that they can be.

“That’s what motivates me. Being a part of a journey which is special.

“[Covid has] been challenging. Our main priority was that the players stayed safe and every one of our family members stayed safe.

“Then the restrictions were lifted a little bit, which enabled us to get back into the hall. We’ve got incredibly strict guidelines to make us safe while we are training, so we’ve had to adapt really. They’re really strange times.

“We’re adapting and trying to stay positive but it has been very challenging. There’s always that constant worry of not contracting the virus and not then spreading it on to vulnerable people.”

Pitchford was also delighted to see Gavin’s stay with the team extended. He said: “I’ve known Gavin for the majority of my table tennis life and since we started working together near the end of last year it’s been very positive.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of good work together – and more so recently, since lockdown, as I’ve not been away that much – and I think it’s paying off. I’ve made some improvements to my game and I’m looking forward to getting out to China and carrying on that good work.

“We like working together. I trust him and he trusts me and that’s what you need in a coach.

“It’s really enjoyable going into the hall and working with him day in, day out and seeing that work transfer into your match play.”

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