Ethan Walsh is the under-23 Ping Pong World Cup champion after a fantastic event in Mexico City – where he also beat the world No 1.

Walsh (pictured above) had been looking forward to the tournament since qualifying last year, and he started off in the under-23s.

It took him a while to warm up and he lost the first match in his group against Bjarke Krong from Denmark, but he went on to win all his other group matches, finishing second on countback.

The quarter-final was against Ying Yuyue from China and saw Walsh win 2-0 to advance to the semi-final. There was no stopping him as he then very comfortably beat Mattheiu Gonnin from France 15-6, 15-7 and seemed to be focused fully on winning the title.

He faced Daniel Vitasek from Czech Republic in the final and with both players having strong attacks it looked as though it would be a great match. Vitasek began to mix defence with attack, but Walsh had the upper hand as he won 15-12, 15-11 to become the U23 champion.

The Stevenage player went into the main sandpaper bat event as No 15 seed. He was in group 15 and his high standard of play continued and he managed to win each match comfortably, winning the group without dropping a set.

He won his first-round match comfortably and then got past Jan Hermann from Germany in the last 16 to set up a quarter-final against world No 1 Alexander Flemming (known as The Flash). The reigning champion had watched Walsh’s previous match and knew he faced a difficult match.

The first leg went all the way and with some amazing rallies and attacking play, it was a very close game. Walsh went 12-13 down and with his turn to serve chose to use his double point, holding his nerve to go 14-13 up. Flemming got the next point to make it 14-14 which meant “sudden death”. With Flemming serving he had the advantage but Walsh knew winning the first set would be so important and with his aggressive attacking game won the point to go in front.

With the momentum growing, Walsh incredibly went 13-0 up in the second and there was not much Flemming could do to stop him as he just didn’t miss. Walsh won 15-4 and took the match to take him into the semi-final against Paul McCreery.

He had to go straight on after winning the U23 final and just was not flowing as well as he had been all day and unfortunately his run came to an end.

Walsh said: ”It’s been a great tournament for me, I am so happy to be the U23 champion but beating Alexander Flemming, the number 1 in the world, is my highlight and has to be up there as one of the best wins of my career. It gives me confidence for the future that I can win these events.”

Walsh’s older brother Luke also competed with success in the consolation event by getting through to the semi-finals.

He said: “It was an amazing event to be part of and I can’t wait for the next one.”

The competition featured hardbat, sandpaper and ‘choice of bat’ categories. Of the other English competitors, Andrew Baggaley competed in all three, reaching the sandpaper quarter-finals, hardbat semi-finals and choice final. Dave Tiplady won the over-55 hardbat category, while Ian Johnston was also competing.