Teenage star closes in on his first singles title

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NINETEEN-year-old Liam Pitchford is attempting to achieve his first men’s singles title at the 54th English Senior National Table Tennis Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield this weekend.

The England No 2 from Chesterfield has already been a beaten finalist twice; to fellow 2012 Olympic Games teammates Rotherham-based Paul Drinkhall (23) and Andrew Baggaley (30) from Milton Keynes.

Last week Pitchford beat Korea’s Kim Minseok, ranked 34 in the world at the ITTF World Tour Qatar Open. His reputation for giant killing is starting to precede the world No 157 following a catalogue of victories over some of the sport’s biggest stars, including world No 9 Vladimir Samsonov, No 20 Alexey Smirnov and No 32 Robert Gardos.

He said: “I guess people will be doing their homework before they play me but I don’t think they fear me just yet. Hopefully they will soon!

“I’ve lost in the final twice now, of course it would be great to win and that is the main goal, so I’ll be taking each match at a time and see how it goes.”

Tickets for the English Championships are available on the door at Ponds Forge, Sheffield (March 1-3) with free entry today, while tomorrow prices are £6 for adults and £3 for concessions and Sunday prices are £8 adults, £4 concessions.

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