A BUDMOUTH student who made his debut at a national table-tennis tournament earlier this month is hoping it will be the first of many appearances on a championship stage.

Jamie Blair travelled to Doncaster to play in the under-12 section of the National Under-11-14 Championships after making it through a tough regional qualifying event in Southampton.

He was the only player from a group of talented, up and coming youngsters from Weymouth to qualify for the championships in any of the four age groups.

The five-hour trip to Doncaster meant the youngster had to travel up the night before, and the Wey-mouth League’s help with funding for the journey was greatly appreciated.

The top 49 players from all over the country were split into 11 groups of four or five players for the first round and they would play the best of five sets in each match.

Blair took on the top-rated player first and, despite some good play, he was beaten in straight sets.

The next two matches were a lot closer, but unfortunately the Bud-mouth pupil lost those too and so did not qualify for the next round.

Despite his disappointment at not qualifying, Blair learnt a lot from the experience and hopes it encourages others in Weymouth’s army of young players to train hard, improve and have the courage to enter tournaments when they can.

Blair, who started playing the game two years ago and was a member of the Budmouth C team that won the Weymouth League Division Three title last season, has also represented Dorset at under-15 Cadet level.

He is now preparing for his next tournament at Waterside Table Tennis Club in Southampton.

Any youngsters wishing to try table tennis for the first time, or rekindle their relationship with the sport, should contact Andy Millar, youth co-ordinator for the Weymouth League, at a.millar212@gmail.com or on 07710507075.