Latest Blog Entry written by Colin Judge

My 2nd Blog

Hi everyone! I have been very busy since my last blog. This week I will talk about my preparation for the French Open and how I got on in the competition. I will also tell you a little bit about my plans for the future and my training for the big year ahead. I practiced really hard during September and October. I trained five times every week and got 1:1 coaching with John Murphy and Mick Cunningham. We worked on everything but focused mainly on the weaker aspects of my game. These sessions were very constructive and very beneficial and as a result I found that I had a lot more confidence in my game during the French Open last week. I also found that my teammates in IWA contributed a lot to my training in the weeks before my competition. I was able to practice what I had worked on with John and Mick against all the different members of my team. I think it is very important to play with different players and I believe that there is something to be learned from everyone. So I felt that my preparation for the French Open couldn’t have been any better but I was very well aware that preparation could only take me so far. I travelled to Nice with my friend and teammate, Des Ryan, on Wednesday the 23rd of October. When we arrived at the airport we got the bus to Hyéres just outside of Toulon. We practiced at the training facility that evening and then went back to the hotel for dinner and an early night. The competition would start early in the morning.

My first match was against the world number one, Fabien Lamirault. He played very well and beat me in straight sets. However, I knew that I could not let this defeat knock my confidence. I had a very important game later that day which would determine whether or not I made it out of the group stages. I played Gianni Verzino later that day and won the match 3-1 which meant that I had qualified for the quarter finals.

The next day I faced Stephane Molliens, the world number 6 from France. He won a very close first set but I found form in the second and third set and had a 2-1 lead going into the fourth. Stephane then came back very strong which meant that we would go into a fifth and final set. Stephane continued to play at the top of his game right until the end and won the match 11-9 in the fifth. This defeat was really hard for me to take but I didn’t feel disheartened. Stephane is, in my opinion, the best player I’ve played in an international competition and I felt that I had played very well in the singles event overall. There were many more matches to be played over the next few days and I knew that there was still a big chance for me to turn things around. My luck would change in the team event! 

I won seven from eight singles matches in the team event. I played some very good table tennis and got great wins against some very highly ranked players.

I had to play Fabien Lamirault, the world number one, again in the opening match of the team event. I was eager for revenge but knew that this was going to be a very difficult game.  I played very well in the first two sets and managed to win them both which meant I was 2-0 up going into the third set. It was a great start for me but I didn’t want to get complacent, I knew Fabien would come back strong. He won the third set 11-3 and the fourth set 11-4 which meant we were going into a fifth set. The momentum was with him so I needed a big performance in this final set. A big crowd began to gather and my heart began to beat. I had been in this situation so many times before and lost so I knew this time that I needed to do something different. I needed to play how I practice and not let my fear of losing ruin my chance of winning. This is what my coach, Tibor Pofok, who helped me so much throughout the week, told me during the timeout. On this occasion I took my chance and I beat the number one in the world. I was over the moon! My best international result ever. 

I was unfortunate to have missed out on the medals at the French Open but I was delighted with how I played and with the games I won and I think that this is more important. I was also very happy to see my good friend and roommate, Tom Davis, play so well throughout the competition and get some great wins against some very highly ranked players. It just goes to show that anything is possible if you work hard. I still have a lot more work to do before my competitions in 2015 but it was nice to end the year on a high. I am back in Dublin now and I am very keen to continue training hard. I will go to a squad session next weekend and a Paralympic training camp in Athlone the following weekend and I am looking forward to getting back to it. I know now what I need to work on and I am determined to work on all aspects of my game in the coming months. Every session counts ahead of the biggest year in my table tennis career.

The next time I will talk a bit about my preparation for the Irish National Championships and my international competitions which follow afterwards. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment at the end of the page and I will respond to your questions on my next blog. Thank you very much for reading and for all the support.

Until next time!