In just a year and a half Seville Grove girl Jessika Nichols-Neale, 11, has gone from table tennis novice to a serious competitor.
Jessika is one of four WA students and the only girl to go to Adelaide to compete in the 2015 school sport Australia Pacific school games this week.
Jessika started playing on her family’s backyard table when she was nine but after joining the WA table tennis association she started taking it more seriously.
“We had a table in our shed and one day my dad pulled it out and we started playing and then we went to a club and now I’m really interested in it,” she said.
She will be taking on the top young table tennis players from around Australia and Asia but that hasn’t fazed her at all.
“I’m excited to have the experience and play somewhere else and against other people,” she said.
“I’ve been practicing my backhand and forehand…I’m nervous but I’m confident and I’m just going to try my best.”
Jessika’s dad Steve Neale said Jessika had played casually since she was five.
“We used to just bring the table out every summer and Jess first just picked up a bat when she was five,” he said.
“Two summers ago she didn’t want us to put the table away.
“She wanted us to keep it out and we ended up enquiring and going for a social hit at the club in Vic Park.”
Mr Neale said he was happy to watch his daughter have fun and make it to a level where she was playing in tournaments.
“Everyone’s been saying you need to get her in tennis and golf because table tennis isn’t a paying sport but I’m not a parent that’s going to push my child into a sport or something she doesn’t want to do,” he said.
The Pacific school games will see 4000 students participate in nine different sports at the highest level and runs until November 29.