Earlier this month the 2018 International Table Tennis Federation World Hopes Week and Challenge took place in Alicante from 30th July to August 5th.
The competition is an underage event where budding table tennis players get to grow their skills and have the guidance of professional coaches in their qualifying games. Twelve year old Sophie Earley is the current number one in Ireland at both U18 and U15 level.
The European Hopes selection rounds, held in Luxembourg in April, consisted of supporting young players to enhance their knowledge of the sport and to develop the techniques and skills necessary to progress to playing at a high level. Technical training focused on forehand attack, backhand attack, footwork, counter top spin, long rallies, serve, serve and attack, return of serve and multi-ball exercises.
Ireland’s Sophie Earley from Ormeau Table Tennis Club recorded the highest European evaluation which qualified her for the World Hopes event in Alicante. Sophie proved herself steady in the knockout round by defeating Baiasu from Romania 3-0. Earley was not only the only Irish contender, but the only European girl competing in the finals event.
Sophie went on to win the quarter final game against Guatemala’s Cux Tiriquiz placing her as number two seed. It was neck in neck for Earley with Egypt’s Hana Goda in the semi-final for over 4 sets. Goda took the game in the fifth set 13-11. Sophie narrowly missing out on the chance to compete in the final, came back strong in her game against American Emily Tan in their bronze medal match. Though Tan was fighting hard throughout, Earley secured bronze by beating Tan 11-8 and 12-10 in the last two sets.
A great video from Ormeau Table Tennis Club of Sophie Earley in action!
Earley had a great run in this competition and has a great chance to qualify for the World Cadet Challenge in Japan in October. This year’s event shows that supporting young women in their sporting development plays an important role in Irish women’s sporting success. We hope to be hearing a lot more about Sophie Earley in the international table tennis scene over the next few years.
Know a young girl who might be interested? Find a Table Tennis Club near you: www.irishtabletennis.com.