TABLE TENNIS: Emily impresses in senior England debut

Emily Bates (second from right) with team-mates Jo Parker and Kelly Sibley, alongside England coach Alan Cooke.
Emily Bates (second from right) with team-mates Jo Parker and Kelly Sibley, alongside England coach Alan Cooke.
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KGGS student Emily Bates enjoyed some outstanding success at the senior European Championships in Poland last week.

The 15-year-old England junior number one was only called up to the squad two days before the event at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, and made remarkable progress by winning some key matches on her full England senior debut.

Emily played alongside England captain Kelly Sibley and Jo Parker and went through their stage matches unbeaten, topping their group with three wins out of three. They then disposed of Greece in the quarter-final, which was followed by a commendable victory over Portugal.

The final, which was against a very strong French team, resulted in another outstanding victory for Emily’s England team who were presented with gold medals, with the winners’ trophy handed to head coach Alan Cooke.

Emily’s contribution to the team was three fine victories with a particularly pleasing win over the Portuguese player Catia Martins who she dispatched 3-0.

All Emily’s opponents were ranked above her and she enjoyed an inspired performance in the singles event when she found herself up against Estonian Tatjana Tsitjakova. The Grantham player played some of her best ever table tennis and took a remarkable 3-1 set 1 lead in the match.

In the fifth set Emily moved herself into a super 10-6 position which gave her four match points, however nerves struck and after a time-out she lost her lead to make it 10-10. The next point proved to be decisive when Emily opened up with a crunching, down the line forehand, and in the process gave her a fifth match point which she duly took with a well placed sliced backhand.

Emily then came up against world number 98 Elena Timina from Holland. The Dutchwoman had already won a European Championship before Emily was born and the experienced showed, with Emily losing 4-0 in sets but taking the last three too 11-9.

Emily achieved another outstanding win with her partner Alice Loveridge in the ladies’ doubles over two world top 200 players from Serbia. The 3-2 victory was totally unexpected but demonstrated the ever-increasing confidence with which Emily is beginning to play.

She hoped that her performances might see her in the running for the World Championships in Germany next year and that Emily will still remain on the Olympic 2012 long list for the Great Britain team.

Emily is currently in Sweden, once again playing for the seniors in the ITTF pro-tour event.