ILKLEY Grammar School’s very own table tennis superstar, Kate Nixon, showed her fellow students a thing or two about the game this week.
Kate, 14, joined Mark Smith and John Ainley from FocusTT to explain to students the hard work, training and challenges that table tennis requires and not forgetting the great fun that it can offer. Kate is extremely dedicated to the sport, first picking up the table tennis bat at primary school. She has gone on to reach the world wide raking of five (in her age group) and has recently spent time in China training. Kate has gained honours representing England in a number of International junior events.
Mark Smith, Focus Table Tennis, began his table tennis journey way back in 1985 at the age of nine. Mark was immediately hooked on the sport, and within two years he was the Yorkshire champion. He continued to develop as a player, and before reaching adulthood he’d already represented England and become national singles champion, twice.
As an adult, Mark continued his playing career on the professional circuits in France and Belgium, while also developing a keen interest in coaching. He became a development officer for the English Table Tennis Association, and helped English clubs and counties to win several championships.
Eventually his coaching took him overseas, and he landed in Western Australia for the 2004/5 world tour as a coach in residence. Mark went on to become the Western Australia table tennis champion, and in his spare time produced a series of informative table tennis coaching videos.
Mark launched Focus Table Tennis, Britain’s first specialist table tennis company, in 2010 when he saw an opportunity to spread his knowledge and enthusiasm for the game with other adults and children alike.
John Ainley leads the Focus TT’s work in Yorkshire and has played table tennis for over 40 years, and moved into coaching in 1997. John’s commitment to his players has produced great successes especially through his coaching of Kate Nixon.
The students watched in awe as Kate and Mark displayed amazing rallies, spinning the ball and hitting the ball so fast it was difficult to spot it!
Hilary Ravensdale, Head of PE, said: "We are extremely proud of Kate and to be able to show some of the younger students just how good she is was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. Maybe we even inspired some of them to give her a run for her money in the coming years!"