CARRAMAR teenager Holly Nicolas is looking to become an international table tennis force in Australia’s next generation of world-class players.
The last year has been a particularly successful one for the 16-year-old, who has been earmarked as a prospect for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in 2020.
The teenager is the most successful junior ever to come out of WA, regularly winning in competitions beyond her age group.
Nicolas was named Oceania U18 singles champion in April, claiming the title as the best junior across Australia, New Zealand and surrounding island nations.
She claimed a silver medal in last year’s national U21 championships at age 15.
At just 13, she became the first junior in WA history to win all four age groups in one year, claiming the U13, U15, U18 and U21 state titles.
This has all come about as the result of steely dedication.
“I do at least 12 hours of training a week, sometimes more and there’s also lots of travel time, as the training centre is 45 mins away,” she said.
“I also train with the Australian junior squad about four times a year, which means flying to the eastern states.
“I also try to fit in some gym work and running during the week.”
In a sport that’s immensely popular as a games room staple, it would be easy to assume her dominance at the elite level might take away the fun of the clashes with the backyard battlers.
But she said this was not so.
“I still enjoy mucking around with friends and family but they always complain because I spin the ball too much and hit it too hard,” she said.
Last month she represented Australia on the World Junior Circuit in Thailand, where she came up against the skill of Asian competitiors.
Nicolas won one of three games in her group, defeating Thailand’s Jirutchaya Ketcharan to finish third out of four competitors.
Asian countries dominate the sport, with nine of the world’s best 10 women players from Asia.
Nicolas considered her most exciting victory to be when she ousted Oceania opponent Roufei Rao at the junior championships in 2013.
“She was ranked No.1 and it was my first year at an international tournament and I was yet to be ranked at that time,” she said.