Liam Pitchford, David McBeath, Sean Cullen and Sam Walker who was drafted in to replace the injured Gavin Evans, along with coach Jia Yi Liu and physio Jill Guizzetti have just qualified for the main event of the World Junior Table Tennis Championships in Bratislava. Battling hard, the boys came second in an extremely tough group, achieving what many thought would be an unlikely victory, the disposal of Chinese Taipei in three straight sets, their sole defeat came at the hands of the Korean Republic.

Watch all of the amazing action from their 3-1 win over the Slovak Republic by clicking on the matches below:
Sean Cullen v Jakub Figel
Liam Pitchford v Samuel Novota
Samuel Walker v David Karas
Liam Pitchford v Jakub Figel

Read about and mark victory against Chinese Taipei in Ian Marshall’s Report below:

Represented by Liam Pitchford, Sean Cullen and David McBeath; England caused the one upset in the third series of matches in the first stage of proceedings at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Bratislava on the morning of Sunday 5th December 2010.

They beat the highly rated Chinese Taipei trio of Fu En-Ti, Hung Tzu-Hsiang and Lee Chia-Sheng by three matches to nil.

It was a notable victory against a team than included Hung Tzu-Hsiang, the silver medallist of the Boys’ Singles event at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, earlier in the year.

Liam Pitchford was the young man to beat Hung Tzu-Hsiang and he did so in impressive style; he recorded a straight games victory.

A Chance
“We knew we had a chance”, said Liam Pitchford. “I’ve had a groin injury so I haven’t been able to practise; yesterday I was struggling but today I felt good.”

On the opening day of play, Liam Pitchford had suffered defeat against Pierre-Luc Theriault of Canada before recovering to beat André Ho and thus gave England a three-one victory.

Travel Problems
However, one day later it was a razor sharp Liam Pitchford who entered the arena; furthermore, he was a young man relieved to be in Bratislava.

“We are having a great problem with the weather in England, many airports are closed and the players, who were due to go to the Finalandia Open, have not been able to travel”, added Liam Pitchford. “In Sheffield we’d had over two foot of snow, roads have been closed, very difficult to travel.”

Sheffield is the home of the English Institute of Sport where the national training centre is based and where the English Open in January 2011 will be staged.

Sparked Victory
Liam Pitchford played the role of the leader but the man to spark England to life was 17 year old Sean Cullen playing in his first World Junior Championships; in the opening match he saved three match points against Fu En-Ti before progressing to secure victory and thus gave England a tremendous boost.

“At the start of the match I made easy mistakes”, said Sean Cullen. “After saving the three match points I just felt more and more confident; my service was good and I was able to attack quickly after the service.”

The vital area of table tennis, the service and first attack with the adage “win a close game and gain confidence” ringing very true.

By Ian Marshall

Here’s what Peter Charters (Vice Chairman of Selection) had to say:

‘ We all know the fighting qualities of Liam Pitchford but put Sean Cullen in an England shirt, put him in a team match and he is a different player to that seen in the tournaments at home. These two former Primary Schoolmates are doing us proud after the unfortunate injury to Gavin Evans.’

England’s Group A Results:

England beat Canada 3-1
Piere-Luc Theriault bt. Liam Pitchford 3-2
David McBeath bt. Andre Ho 3-1
Sean Cullen bt. James Pintea 3-0
Liam Pitchford bt. Andre Ho 3-0

England bt. Chinese Taipei 3-0
Liam Pitchford bt. En-Ti Fu 3-2
Sean Cullen bt. Tzu-Hsiang 3-0
David McBeath bt. Chia-Sheng Lee 3-0

Korea Republic bt. England 3-0
Jae-Jun Cho bt. Liam Pitchford 3-2
Ji Hwan Kim bt. Sean Cullen 3-1
Dong Hyun Kim bt. David McBeath 3-1

England bt. Slovak Republic 3-1
Sean Cullen bt. Jakub Figel 3-0
Liam Pitchford bt. Samuel Novota 3-0
David Karas bt. Sam Walker 3-1
Liam Pitchford bt. Jakub Figel 3-0

Next up the boys face Brazil, with the prospect of China should they be successful against their South American counterparts.

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Image: Courtesy ITTF/Remy Gros