TALENTED Joseph Cope is to represent his school, town and county as he ping-pongs his way to the top!
The 13-year-old Manor College of Technology pupil – who is seeded as 13th-best table tennis player in the country for his age – first held a table tennis bat on holiday with his family when he was just 18 months old.
Toddler Joseph would sit on the end of the table and hit the ball baby-style.
But when he hit the age of eight, the sporty youngster decided to give up his other loves of football and street dancing and take up table tennis as his full-time hobby after his talents were spotted at school.
He was encouraged to make a start at Hartlepool Table Tennis Club before he moved onto Northfield Table Tennis Club in Billingham where he trains at least four nights a week.
Joseph, who lives in the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool with his talented brother Jack Cope, 16, who is also a keen player, recently took part in the 2015 Butterfly Schools’ Individual Table Tennis Championships.
He won the school, Hartlepool, and Cleveland legs of the competition, and is now preparing to take part in the national finals in Tipton Sports Academy, West Midlands, on April 25.
There, about 300 youngsters will be taking part in under 11, 13, 16 and 19 levels.
His mum Louise, 35, and dad Paul, 43, a manager at Tesco, say they are super-proud.
“We’re all really proud of him - me, his dad, and Jack,” said Louise, who works as a production planner.
Joseph is representing his school, Hartlepool and the county and it’s a big thing. It gives the school, the town, and the area some recognition.Louise Cope, mum of Joseph
“Joseph hasn’t had his coaches at Northfield behind him for this competition because it’s school-related, so he’s done it all off his own back, with the help and support of his brother.
“They are there for each other and support each other. Jack’s always there for Joseph because he’s his little brother.
She added: “Joseph is representing his school, Hartlepool and the county and it’s a big thing. It gives the school, the town, and the area some recognition.
“He might not win the national final but to me it’s a big achievement to even get this far. I’m really proud of him, proud of both of my kids.”
Joseph and Jack, also a Manor College pupil, are members of Northfield Table Tennis Club and as well as practicing during the week, take part in competitions nationally, and potentially one day, internationally.