Liam Pitchford (right) celebrates with England teammate Sean Cullen (left) pictures by courtesy of ITTF

Now he is the hunted, previously he was the hunter; that is the situation for England’s 18 year old Liam Pitchford.

At the Volkswagen World Junior Championships he is one of 16 players who received a direct entry to the main draw; he is the no.9 seed.

Therefore, he is a target for any player who has progressed through the qualification stage.

Undoubtedly, Korea’s Cheon Min Hyuck had the Englishman’s name set in his sights early on the afternoon of Thursday 17th November 2011, as the first round of the Boys’ Singles event commenced in the splendid premises of the Bahrain Table Tennis Association.

However, the Englishman staved off the challenge; he recovered from an opening game reverse to post a four games win (9-11,11-6,11-3,11-6,13-11).

In the majority of international tournaments during his young career, Liam Pitchford has been the player seeking to upset matters; at the recent Intersport European Championships, on the very first day of play he caused arguably the biggest surprise of the whole tournament.

He beat none other than Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, three times winner of the Men’s World Cup and three times European champion.

Now Liam Pitchford has become the target, everyone wants to beat the young man who defeated Vladimir Samsonov.

Furthermore, there is another reason why he is being hunted; the results gained at the Intersport European Championships means that he has changed places with Paul Drinkhall at the top of the English Ranking list; for the first time in his life he the no.1 ranked player in the country.

“It’s a different situation now but all I can do is keep playing a give my best”, said Liam Pitchford. “Certainly I’m pleased be the no.1 in England but I want to go further.”

Furthermore he has made the top spot in England whilst still a junior and in his opening contest he overcame a very difficult opponent in the guise of Cheon Min Hyuck.

“It was my first match and the first match is always difficult”, reflected Liam Pitchford. “Especially when have to play a Korean, they are athletic, fit, they chase every ball; I lost the first game but then I played down-the-line more and he didn’t read the play.”

One of the strengths of Liam Pitchford is from the backhand and certainly his ability to play from the backhand wide to the Korean’s forehand brought success.

Courtesy of Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor.

Watch the interview with Liam Pitchford on itTV

Watch Liam’s win over Cheon Min Hyuck on itTV