A young table tennis star from Hartlepool battled with the world’s best as he took part in an international competition.
Joe Cope, 15, flew out to Obrero in Sweden for his international tournament.
He played in the under 15s Sweden Junior and Cadet ITTF event, winning all of his matches to put him top of the group.
He then went through into the last 64, where he played a Belgium player Nicolas Degros, who is ranked No 50 in the world for under 15s.
Coming from behind Joe, whose older brother Jack, 18, is also a table tennis player, beat his opponent in a five ended game.
However Joe was beaten in the last 32 round by number two seed and no.12 in the world in under 15s, Jo Yokotoni.
Joe, seeded 8th in the country for his age group, lost the match 3-1, but later admitted he was happy with his overall performance.
His proud mum Louise, 37, said: “Joe went over with the England squad along with their coaches for four nights and he’s got a lot out of it.
“His own coach who he sees almost every single day, Carol Moor, couldn’t be there, but he’s taken the whole experience in.
“He’s come back in his own bubble.”
Manor Academy pupil Joe, who lives in the Fens area of Hartlepool, is hugely dedicated to his sport, training every day.
He is also part of Ormseby Table Tennis Club.
Louise, who is married to Joe’s dad Paul, 45, added that Joe is on the lookout for any potential sponsorship opportunities as he is currently a self-funded player.
“We’re always on the lookout for help with sponsorship,” she said.
“I’ve tried with a couple of companies but haven’t been able to get anywhere so far.
“People seem to think table tennis is a cheap sport to play but it isn’t at all.
“The trip he’s just been on was about £800 and that’s without his coach.
“If a Hartlepool business would like to get involved it would be a great boost.
“We’d keep them up to date with how he Joe is getting on with his table tennis.”
Firms interested in sponsoring Joe should call Louise on 07917114562.