Stonehouse table tennis star Billy Shilton has been named in a 16-strong squad from the British Para Table Tennis Team that will head to Italy next week for the Lignano Master Open (March 14-16), a tournament that marks the start of the sport’s qualification period for Tokyo 2020.

The 20 year-old who trains full time with the British squad in Sheffield narrowly missed out on qualification for the World Championships last year and warmed up for Italy by playing well at the PG Mutual National Championships in Nottingham last weekend.

“I was a bit apprehensive before the nationals as I hadn’t played as many competitions as I would have liked to in the lead up,” he said.

" Playing in front of a big crowd has given me a lot of confidence and a feel for what it is like to be under pressure in a big match.

"Over the last few months I feel that I have gone up another level. It has been a hard winter and a lot of training – during the last few weeks we have been focused on getting ready for matches so I feel really well prepared.”

Shilton went to the Rio Paralympic Games as part of ParalympicsGB’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme and is hopeful that he can qualify to compete in Tokyo next year.

“Having been through the qualification period for Rio will help me a lot,” he added.

“Last time I wasn’t really expected to qualify whereas now I feel there is a little more pressure but I can hopefully do enough this year to qualify. It is everyone’s dream to compete in a Paralympic Games so it would be amazing.”