echzz200913jacktabletennis-1Liverpool teenager Jack Hunter-Spivey heads to China next week for the 2014 ITT Para Table Tennis World Championships taking place in Beijing from September 6-14.

The 19-year-old will be competing in his first World Championship having made his championship debut for GB at the Europeans in Italy last year.

“My first world championships mean a lot,” he said.

“It will be amazing going to China – it’s the home of table tennis so you couldn’t get a better place for the World Championships.”

Some good results this season, including a silver medal in the men’s class 5 singles at the Slovakia Open, have seen his ranking rise from 17 at the beginning of the year to nine.

“I think I’ve improved a lot this year,” he said, “not just technically but my mental game has improved. We’ve got brilliant support staff with the GB team and that has helped me massively.

“The Europeans last year was a real learning curve for me. I didn’t deal with the pressure well in the matches but we’ve been working on that and I’ve had some big wins against high ranked players so it gives me more confidence that I’m one of the better players.

“Rankings are only on paper but in my head I’m a lot more confident.”

Hunter-Spivey has also benefited from playing in team events with the Paralympic champion and world number one from Norway Tommy Urhaug.

“He’s got a wealth of experience and you couldn’t ask for a better team partner,” agreed Hunter-Spivey. “He’s the best player in the world in class 5 – he’s got so much advice to give and he’s such a laid back character.

“In high pressure situations he’s so cool and calm which makes me feel better.

“Before we were winning matches 3-2 and he was sort of carrying me but this year we have been winning 3-0 and I want to prove myself to him at the same time that he is helping me.”

The Liverpool FC fan has just returned from an international training camp in Slovenia where the GB team was able to train with some of the best players in Europe, including Urhaug.

“Training in Slovenia has been massive,” said Hunter-Spivey.

“Training at home is great but you don’t get the variety of practice that we got there with some of the world’s best players. Everyone is fighting for the same medals so we were all working our socks off.”

Although he has recently moved to Sheffield to train full time with the GB squad, Hunter-Spivey admits: “I’m ‘Scouse’ and proud and that is never going to change.

“My family are really proud of me and I’m happy to be doing what I am doing.

“I’m very lucky to be in this position and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

“I’m really happy with my level – I’m feeling confident and want to see what happens in China.

“I’ll be seeded to reach the knockout stages and that is my goal but if I get a decent draw I could take a medal.

“But I’m going for the experience and to see how things work – the bigger picture is Rio in 2016 and to be at a major competition before then is great.”

Liverpool Echo