This is the first Five Questions interview with England’s Commonwealth Games captain Andrew Baggaley in the build up to the Sussex Open next week.
The groups have been drawn and you are up against Steve Kerns, Chris Main and Victor Shi, have you played any of them before? Do you fancy your chances to getting out of the group and progressing further?
“I don’t believe I have competed against any of the players drawn in my group (unless I played against them when I was very young) but of course I have every confidence that I will progress through the group stages. As always I have full respect for any opponent I face and therefore will give every match my full preparation. I believe if my form his on a high level at the event then I am in with a chance to win the tournament.”
Will this Open be your last chance to compete before the Commonwealths?
“No, there is an England Verses Australia Test Match in Preston on Sunday 20th July which will be my last competitive match before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.”
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Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford are favourites for this tournament, are they the two players to beat if you want to go all the way?
“I take one match at a time at any event, therefore I don’t really look at any particular player as a rival or the player to beat. Of course if any player has the form and ability to beat Paul (Drinkhall) or Liam (Pitchford) then they certainly have a chance to win the tournament. There is also a strong foreign entry therefore the tournament is very open and if a number of players ‘peak’ at the event they will almost certainly do very well.”
Which up and coming players are you looking forward to watching in the under 21s?
“In all honesty I will not be watching the U21 events unless I potentially have to play against somebody in the U21 draw. I tend only to watch players (in any event) that I will compete against. Of course, it is always encouraging to see an English player winning events in the youth categories!”
Finally, how important is it to the sport that BT Sports are covering the latter stages?
“Regular television coverage of British players is absolutely critical to table tennis ultimately becoming a mainstream sport in the UK. Without it the sport cannot flourish, simple!”
Best of luck to Andrew in the Open and his training leading up the Commonwealth Games. You can follow his progress on Twitter @ABaggaley