Date of birth: 01/03/1997
Rubber: Target Pro GT
Blade: Hinotec Off +
4 titles of champions of France (double junior, double senior, per team in N1 and in Pro B)
Member of the France team from 2011 to 2015
Multi-medalist in young international Opens (cadet / junior)
Multi-medalist in French Youth Championship (single, double)
Médaille championnat d’Europe jeune
Multi-médaillée en Opens internationaux jeunes (cadet/junior)
Multi-médaillée en Championnat de France jeunes (simple, double)
The “Cornilleau Team” Interview
How did you get into ping ?
I discovered ping at 9 years of age. I was holidaying at a campsite with my mother and I enjoyed playing it together. I immediately signed up for a club back home, in Grasse (Alpes Maritimes).
And then what path did your career take ?
I stayed in Grasse for four years and then I joined the Pôle espoir training cluster for young hopes in Boulouris (Var region), where I remained for two years. Things got serious for me there and I realised that ping was really going to play a pivotal role in my life and that it was what I wanted to do. After the Pôle espoir, I went to the Pôle France training cluster in Talence then the INSEP (National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance) and I’ve returned to Boulouris, at the CREPS (Centre for Sports Resources, Expertise and Performance) this time. I’ve also been a member of various clubs: Miramas, Etival, Poitiers and Nîmes, and I’m currently playing in Grand Quevilly.
In your view, what has been the key moment in your career ?
Unquestionably, it was meeting Eric Angles. I first got to know him during a regional training session and he subsequently became my coach. He’s had a crucial role in my training, as well as playing a big part in my personal development, which has gone way beyond ping. Moreover, he was the one who introduced me to the disabled sports federation.
You’re known for being the official service returner for France’s disabled table tennis team, can you tell us more about this role ?
I began working with France’s disabled sport team in 2014. I was 16 or 17 and it was Eric Angles, who was coaching the team at the time, who enabled me to start out as the team’s service returner, sitting on a ball to mirror the actions of a wheelchair athlete. Straight away I relished the atmosphere and found it really thrilling. I’d already been interested in the world of disabled sport for a while as I want to become a physio. Therefore, that enabled me to get a foot in the door of a world that already appealed to me and it really lived up to expectations. My role was strictly related to being a service returner at the start, then I was given a bit more responsibility. I was part of the staff during the Olympic Games in Rio and that should be the case for those in Tokyo too. In any case, I’m keen to continue in this direction.
Let’s go back to your career. How would you describe your game ?
I’m versatile. People say my game is a bit like a guy’s. My serve isn’t bad and after that I like to go for the forehand. After that, if the exchange continues, I move away from the table.
Which shot characterises you ?
If I had to choose, I’d say the high ball. I’m fairly at ease in defence and I like to really put the high balls away.
Are there any titles or performances you’re particularly proud of ?
I was the French doubles champion with Lucie Gauthier in 2017. We clearly weren’t ranked among the favourites in 13th or 14th place I think and we’d never played together before. We proved all the forecasts wrong by beating the No.3 and then the No.1 seeds in the final. It’s a fantastic memory. More recently, with my club in Grand Quevilly, we beat Lille in the quarter finals of the European Cup. We weren’t able to play in the semi-finals due to the lockdown, but reaching this level in the competition is relatively rare.
On a personal level, what has ping given you ?
Ping really is the root of everything for me. It’s my passion and it gives me a connection to almost everything that’s important to me. For example, I’ve joined physio school thanks to my status as a top-level player and I’ve been able to access the Paralympic world professionally. Table tennis has also brought me a great deal in terms of values: commitment, rigour, motivation and drive. On a daily basis, it really is an advantage as I can rely on these values in all my projects. Ping has also enabled me to travel. I’ve seen a lot of interesting countries, but I still have a soft spot for Macedonia. Ok, maybe I’m not being completely objective as that’s where I come from, but the country’s well worth a visit.
How did you become a member of Team Cornilleau ?
It was whilst I was at the Pôle Espoir that Eric Angles once again stepped in and made that happen. I was thirteen, fourteen years old and the contact with the team clicked very quickly. The same was true regarding the equipment. I had no problem finding the wood/ rubber combination that suited me and I still play with the same one today.
Crédit photo : © Jean-Christophe Fraisse