Table Tennis: Emma Ludlow aims for Commonwealth Games spot
Emma Ludlow's timing couldn't be better as the 17-year-old seeks to convince the selectors that she deserves to be on the plane to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games this summer.
A top junior for many years, last month she hit the form her of her life when winning the Irish senior title.
The Grosvenor Grammar school student defeated fellow Ulster player Ashley Givan to win not only her first senior title but also her first national crown, having just missed out on four previous occasions in junior finals.
Givan, Ludlow, Amanda Mogey, and Hannah Lynch Dawson along with male players Paul McCreery, Ashley Robinson and Peter Graham today head out to the Luxembourg senior open for what is seen as the final chance to shine ahead of the team selection for the Games at the end of the month.
Northern Ireland expects to send three male and three female players to Glasgow and having been inspired by her mum Anne to take up the sport, Emma is hoping she gets the nod.
"My mum was the non-playing captain of the Northern Ireland table tennis team at the Commonwealth Youth Games when they were held in India and I was in P7 at the time. She came back with so many great stories that it made me determined that I would be part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games team," said Emma.
"It has been dream since then to play at the Commonwealths but I have to wait and see who gets picked."
Mum Anne has been around the sport for a large chunk of her life, having reached number four in Ulster at under-17, while playing for top club Glenburn.
It was almost inevitable that she would one day take Emma along to Glenburn where veteran coach Herbie Ross continues to work with a cluster of aspiring young players.
While Anne admits she didn't see the full potential of her daughter right away, there were others who did.
"Emma was about seven or eight when I took her along to the club and she seemed to enjoy it right away and by nine she was playing tournaments," said Anne.
"I suppose because I am her mum I maybe didn't see the talent she had immediately but people around me were saying that she could be very good.
"David Kyle at Glenburn has worked with her from the start, I decided not to coach her – for her sake and mine!
"I'm a bag of nerves when she plays, so it's better that she has a calm coach and I'm just mum. David has done a great job and she has also been working with Jing Yi Graham who has helped her a lot.
"Emma has certainly improved over the past 18 months and not only in her game but also mentally I feel she is a lot tougher. Now we just have to wait and see if she gets the call to go to Glasgow for the Games. It would be fantastic to see her dream come true."