I will take the Palace by storm, says Stokes

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY DAR­REN WITCOOP

SPORT ASH­LEY Stokes is look­ing to move up the rank­ings in the World Cham­pi­onship of ping pong.

Burnt Oak-based Stokes, 26, be­gins his ti­tle as­sault at Alexandra Palace to­day.

De­fend­ing cham­pion An­drew Bag­ga­ley is favourite but Stokes aims to eclipse his pre­vi­ous best in the an­nual tour­na­ment.

He said: “I’d love to win it and that’s the ul­ti­mate aim.

“But if I reached the quar­ter -fi­nals — which means win­ning four games — I would be over the moon with that.

“It would guar­an­tee me au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion for next year’s event which is very im­por­tant.

“I’ve reached the last 32 be­fore so it’s all about rais­ing the bar.”

Stokes will only dis­cover who he faces in the first round on the eve of the com­pe­ti­tion. But he says he is feel­ing the pres­sure from his big­gest critic — him­self.

“I’ve had to qual­ify pre­vi­ously so it was hard to pre­pare,” he said. “Hav­ing got through this time around has meant I’ve had plenty of time to prac­tise.

“And al­though that will help me it does put more pres­sure on my­self to per­form and win games.” Stokes, a for­mer Euro­pean Mac­cabi Games cham­pion, hopes his metic­u­lous plan­ning can reap the re­wards.

He said: “I feel in good form and my prepa­ra­tion has been spot on. Now there will be a step up in qual­ity but I feel in a good place.”

Ash­ley Stokes

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