Last-minute England call-up for table tennis star Emily

Emily Bates (right) meets London 2012 prospect Jessica Ennis.
Emily Bates (right) meets London 2012 prospect Jessica Ennis.
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RISING table tennis star Emily Bates had a surprise late call-up for the senior England team this week.

Fifteen-year-old KGGS student Emily will make her senior debut at the prestigious European Championships which begin in Poland tomorrow (Saturday).

The late call-up came as a result of England number three Hannah Hicks being unable to play and so the selectors opted for England’s junior number one, Emily.

She will be joining the two top England senior women, Joanna Parker and Kelly Sibley, for the week-long tournament in Gdansk-Sopot.

Emily flew out to Poland yesterday and her father Mark was rushing around to find last minute plane tickets for himself. He said: “It’s pretty dramatic stuff and a bit of a bonus for Emily. You don’t expect your full England debut to be in the European Championship side.”

Emily has been training with the England ladies’ team at the Institute for Sport in Sheffield where she has been preparing for her senior debut, which was scheduled to have been at the ITTF Pro Tour Swedish Open in two weeks’ time.

She has also been selected to play in the senior six nations team, with the competition this year being held in Basildon, Essex, next month.

Emily played in the Ladies’ Grand Prix in Newcastle at the weekend where she reached the semi-final in the main event, losing out to England number one Joanna Parker, and made the final of the ladies’ Band One in which she just missed out to England team-mate Yolanda King in a close five-setter.

l Emily has met with one of England’s main 2012 Olympic hopes and former world champion heptathlete, Jessica Ennis.

Whilst attending the Leeds Met University on one of Emily’s sponsored Jaguar sports Rising Stars days, Emily – who is herself on the Olympic Great Britain long list for table tennis – got the chance of some real inspiration from Jessica who not only spent time explaining her determination to succeed, but also even took time to have her photo taken with Emily.