Liam Pitchford has vowed not to get caught up in winning the men’s singles title at the English Senior National Table Tennis Championships for the first time as he arrives back to play on the continent.
The 19-year-old, who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, exacted revenge on defending champion Paul Drinkhall for last year’s final defeat by triumphing 4-2 in Sheffield.
Pitchford also lost in the men’s singles final in 2010 to Andrew Baggaley but was celebrating two titles this time around after winning the men’s doubles with Drinkhall.
He showed no ill-effects of a hip injury suffered over Christmas and, now in Germany, Pitchford is determined not to let his success in Sheffield, in the men’s singles in particular, go to his head.
“I was out for five weeks but I did good rehab and I was in good hands. I’m still working on keeping on top of it. I’m feeling stronger than ever,” said Pitchford.
“I’ve got a match on Sunday and two more the weekend after that. Pretty much everyone’s a national champion [at his club, TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen] so it’s just another day in the office.
“We [Paul and I] practice against each other all the time and we know each other’s games. Every match is difficult but I’m just happy to have finally won one.
“He blew me out of the water in the third game with some ridiculous shots. After that I just said to myself ‘look, you’ve just got to try something different’.
“I started putting more topspin on my serves, waiting for him to flick and then playing down the lines – luckily it worked.”
Meanwhile, there was no dethroning Kelly Sibley as she retained her women’s single title after a seven-game marathon match with Joanna Parker, who she won the doubles crown with.
Sibley eventually ran out a 4-3 winner and, treating herself to a rest day before getting back into training, she is targeting success at the Commonwealth Championships in India in May.
“I’m just so happy to win it really. I kept on getting into winning positions all the time but I just had to be calm and keep focused on what I was doing when I was winning the points,” said Sibley.
“I took my time a bit, had a couple of deep breaths and eventually got that last point. I want to keep pushing and working hard towards the Championships.”
© Sportsbeat 2013