21-year-old TT player living his dreamWHILE MOST PEOPLE aspire to achieve their childhood dreams, Mark Phillips has been living his since the age of nine.
As a child, he was introduced to table tennis by his father, Donald Phillips, who would later become his first coach. “My father used to teach me in the backyard on a piece of plyboard,” he recalled. “I caught on really fast, and I knew then that table tennis was the sport for me,” he said.
The rest is history.
By age 14 he was recruited to the National Under-15 Table Tennis Team, appointed team captain and later joined the National Under-18 Team. The 21-year-old is now a member of the National Senior Team.
Throughout the years, Phillips has dedicated himself to the sport, amassing several trophies and medals for local, regional and international tournaments. His most prized possession, however, is a medal he received as part of the senior team at the recently concluded World Table Tennis Championships held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The team, consisting of Captain Michael Hyatt, Kane Watson, and Phillips, played for a third-place finish and copped bronze medals.
According to Phillips, he felt overjoyed to medal at that level but more so to be able to meet some of the best table tennis players in the world, including his role model, German player, Timo Boll. “The first table tennis DVD I got featured him; that guy is just awesome!” Phillips excitedly divulged to UWIMONA Now that Boll was “one of the only persons beating the Chinese players, who are known for table tennis. I got to take a picture with him at World Championships. I had to! He was playing right beside me! It was an awesome experience”!
Phillips also enjoys the cultural exposure and travel opportunities afforded by the sport. “I have travelled to St Kitts, Trinidad, Miami, California, Malaysia and Germany,” he said.
Though passionate about table tennis, Phillips has other interests. Throughout his primary and high school years he dabbled in lawn tennis and he was also a long distance runner while in sixth form at Kingston College. Now a resident of the Elsa Leo-Rhynie Hall at The UWI, Mona, he plays badminton, table tennis and lawn tennis for the Hall.
Phillips, who was awarded a full UWI Sports Scholarship in 2014, also does well academically. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance and will be entering final year come September.
In the future, he hopes to pursue a second degree which will allow him to fulfil another childhood dream. He wants to practise law when he retires from tennis.
But for now, this talented St Catherine native is content to travel the world as a professional table tennis player.