Walker battles back in Italy

Sam Walker
Sam Walker

Worksop’s Sam Walker recovered from a tough start to his Europe Youth Top10 debut in Italy to finish seventh.

The table tennis star was making his first ever appearance at one of Europe’s most elite youth tournaments, with nine matches over three days in Terni, against the cream of the crop.

Walker, a former Redlands and Valley pupil, had a little luck in getting selected for the event, having originally been sixth reserve.

But once he got the call-up, the 18-year-old made the most of his opportunity and impressed against Europe’s best juniors.

He had a tough initiation on the first day with three consecutive defeats, but he was somewhat unfortunate to lose to both David Reitspies (CZE) and Can Akkuzu (FRA) 4-3 after going the full distance.

England’s best junior, a Commonwealth Games hopeful, may have been questioning himself after a fourth defeat to Jakub Dyjas (POL) – the eventual winner – but the Worksop-born star picked himself up to win three of his remaining four matches and finish seventh.

First he beat Filip Zeljko (CRO) 4-0, before pushing former European Junior Champion Leonardo Mutti (ITA) to six games.

Then he recorded by far his best win by thumping Portugal’s Joao Geraldo 4-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4) on Sunday morning.

With his final match Walker ended the tournament in style by overturning a 3-2 deficit against Diogo Chen (POR) to finally win a seven-game match 4-3.

The teenager, based in Germany full-time with a professional club, was happy with his finish in the event.

“I’m pleased with seventh in the end, although if I’d have taken chances I could have been on the podium,” he said.

“But it was good to finish the last day unbeaten.”

“Overall it was a good experience, I’m pleased I stayed strong after a bad start and pulled through with good results, I learned a lot.”