Luc Miller is the stand out Table Tennis star in Jersey and has just spent time at Grantham Table Tennis College, improving his game further.
Sportscast Jersey headed down to the Geoff Reed Table Tennis Centre to catch up with the young talent. We spoke about what Table Tennis means to him, what his time at Grantham was like and how he is enjoying coaching the future island talent in a sport that he loves.
Read the full interview here.
How long have you been playing Table Tennis?
I have been playing for ten years now which is actually pretty crazy! I started when I was eight. I came to an open day as there was a lad on my estate who used to play so he got me into it. Obviously we have the great facility so it was easy to start and get into playing the sport.
What is it about Table Tennis that you love so much?
I think that it is a lot more complicated than what people think it is. People look at it from the outside and think ‘ping pong’ and ‘holiday game’ but once you play at a higher level it becomes interesting, from the spin aspect and things like that. I also love the people at this club. They make it for me.
Has there been a highlight moment in your career so far?
It is one of two. The first one is winning the Men’s Gold Medal at the island games in Gibraltar with Jordan Wykes and we didn’t actually drop a set in that run. That was a big one because I don’t think Jersey had won Table Tennis Gold for well over ten years before that. The second highlight would be winning silver at the British Home Countries Internationals in the U18s. I probably didn’t play my best in the final but coming second was a great achievement nevertheless.
How good is it to play Table Tennis here in Jersey?
It is brilliant. It’s probably one of the only places in the country which has a purpose built facility for Table Tennis. From perfect floor, tables, brand new LED lights, it is a fantastic place. Another thing is that anyone can play. When you look around the hall there are people from all sorts of demographics, age groups and abilities so it is so easy for anyone to start playing. I think that is what makes it so unique and so special.
When did the idea of going to Grantham Table Tennis College first come about?
It was two years before I left. Jordan went to Grantham and thought it looked great. However, I didn’t decide that I wanted to go until two days before I left. It was crazy! We managed to get the monies together and it went smoothly. The initial interest, though, came when I was fourteen.
Tell us a bit more about Grantham for those he may be unaware?
Grantham College is the only Table Tennis Academy in the country at the moment where by you can study and also play up to twenty hours a week of Table Tennis. I did my A Levels at a separate institution, but I know they offer loads of BTEC and alternative courses at the college so it is a perfect balance. The head coach is Vidal Graham and he has been coaching for a number of years. Natalie Green is also there along with physical coaches and technical coaches. It has the best players and coaches so it is the best place to develop.
How hard was it leaving Jersey?
It was really difficult. I think because of how short notice it was in the end I wasnt prepared for it really, but I knew I wanted to be a great Table Tennis player, or at least see how far I could get so I would have done anything at that point for any opportunity. It was at a time as well where it was getting quite difficult because I was the best player here and I needed something to stimulate my growth as a player.
Looking at it, how much has it developed your game?
Massively. The first half of the first year there was a big growth and then you stop for a little bit, but that is where you need to keep persevering. Physically and technique wise I was improving but it happened over such a short time, so you need your mind to catch up as well. My big results came in the second year as I had done my first year with all the peaks and troughs, so going into the second year I was a lot more relaxed as I knew what I was getting myself into and I think that is why I had the results that I did.
How good was it to train with other top players who really care about the sport?
It is so important because if you want to improve as a Table Tennis player, you have to be surrounded by better players, but also like you say, people with the same passion for the sport as you. That is really important. Styles is also a massive thing in Table Tennis, so the more styles you can play the easier it is. In tournaments you could come up against anyone, all the spinners and funny rubbers, anyone, so it is important that you have that player based that you can work with.
How long do you have left at Grantham?
So, I was supposed to have done two years and my two years are up now, but due to the current situation with Covid-19 I had to leave slightly earlier. I may potentially be going back in September as the plan was going to go to university but for one reason or another that isn’t happening. The Commonwealth Games are coming up and I need a training base to develop and be surrounded by top quality players.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
The immediate goal is to go to the Commonwealth Games. Next season is a massive season. I believe that they select the team they want to go in the Autumn of 2021 so that is the main focus right now. After that, I am not sure. I don’t like to look too far ahead because I think if there is one thing this period of time has taught me things can change so quickly. It is very much one step at a time and hopefully I can boost my ranking, with it being around 50 in England for men’s at the moment. I would also say a big thanks to Commonwealth Association Jersey for helping fund me, Butterfly and Tees Sport for sponsoring my kit and also the Jersey Sport Foundation for helping me out with my fitness, strength and conditioning and nutrition.
Finally, a few words for the upcoming Jersey Table Tennis Talents. Do you have any tips for them?
We have massive potential. All ages and abilities are welcome, and there is a wide range of abilities in the hall. We have Hannah Silcock who is probably top five for her age group in England. Leon Pierre the outstanding junior player at the moment in the Channel Islands. They all have a lot of potential and now, if I can pass on my experience over and try to get them to learn from me. I personally love coaching as it is so rewarding to give back. Loads of people have given up time for me, no more than Mr Geoff Reed who sadly passed away a few years ago, but he challenged me when nobody asked him to. I want to keep that legacy going and help the next generation. If they continue to work hard there is no reason to why Jersey won’t have a strong side in the coming years.