Date of birth: 30/08/2002
Rubber: Target Pro GT H47
Blade: Hinotec Off
Vice-Champion of France Juniors in singles
Double Cadet French Champion
Vice-Champion of France Cadets in singles
Champion of France Minimes in singles
Champion of France Minimes in doubles
Vice-Champion of France Benjamins in singles
Champion of France Benjamins in double
The “Cornilleau Team” Interview
How did you get into ping ?
My father was a player and I often accompanied him and played with him between or after matches. My older sister got into playing ping from quite a young age and that inspired me. At 8 years of age, whilst accompanying her and playing on the fringes of a meeting, I was talent-spotted by someone from France Détection who asked if I played ping. I told her that I didn’t play in a club and she encouraged me to sign up as she thought I had potential.
So how did you reach the top level from there ?
I signed up for the club in the suburbs of Toulouse where I lived with my parents, then a year later I joined the ASPTT Toulouse, a bigger club. I stayed there until I was 13, at which point I joined the Pôle France training cluster in Nantes. I’m with the best players of my generation there and that’s really the start of the top-level adventure.
What are the key moments in your career ?
I can think of two special occasions. The first was when I’d only just started out in ping and I won a regional tournament without really doing any training. That paved the way for a national training session with the best players of my age from regions all over France. That was very complicated as I was a notch below the others. I realised that I would have to work at it and that it wasn’t as easy as all that.
The other memory was in the juniors, during the French championships. I ranked among the favourites. I think I was number two and yet I almost didn’t make it through in my group. I was down two sets to one and seven points to three. I finally turned the situation around and went on as far as the final. That moment showed me that the race is never won till it’s over.
How did you join Team Cornilleau ?
I’ve always played in Cornilleau. When I was playing at the ASPTT Toulouse, the club was sponsored by Cornilleau. It’s via the partnership with the club that I got some gear and some shirts at the start, then I met the Cornilleau teams and joined the team. In terms of kit, on the advice of my coaches I’ve changed woods several times as I grow and my game evolves.
What type of player are you ?
I vary my game a lot, especially with regards to my service or my put away in particular, and I tend to win by wearing my opponent down. I try to focus on making sure I play good quality balls with spin. I think I have a fairly comprehensive and versatile game, with no particular strengths or weaknesses.
Do you still have a favourite shot all the same ?
I can’t say I have a favourite shot, but in my younger days I relied heavily on my service, securing a fair few aces. I’m still working on it, but it’s not as decisive as it once was. I think the more advanced you get, the more difficult it is to make a difference on the service.
On a personal level, what has ping given you ?
When you leave the family home at a fairly early age, you develop a form of independence more quickly, which was what happened to me with ping. I also think that ping has helped me with a lot of aspects related to my personality. Table tennis is a sport where you have to know how to deal with your stress and stay clear-headed and calm at crucial moments. Stress is something that you find in daily life too and playing top-level ping helps us to better understand such moments. In this sport, you experience real highs as well as quite painful defeats and you have to know how to roll with it and refocus on the next stage. On a personal level, I also have to motivate myself to link together a series of remote lessons. That shapes you mentally. I’ve also had to learn to organise myself well so I can juggle my career and continuing with school. Sometimes, it feels like all I do is train, work and sleep, but I know why I’m doing it. Ping has also given me a chance to share some great emotions as it’s not just an individual sport. I’ve bagged two bronze medals in doubles competition and the accompanying memories are priceless.
Do you have any ideas about what you’ll do after your career as a pro player ?
I don’t know yet. For now, I’m flat out with ping and devoting all my time to it rather than casting my mind forward to my post career. However, in a bid to keep all my options open, I’m taking my A’ levels this year.