DERBYSHIRE badminton starlet Grace King has been called up to the England Under-15 squad for next month’s 8-Nations event in Denmark.
The youngster from Quarndon is still only 13 but her form has earned her selection to the team, which consists of six girls and six boys.
King became the county’s first national champion in more than a decade last year when she won the Under-13 national singles title.
Her coach, former England international James Boxall, feels her international call-up for the tournament, which takes place from February 20-23, is well deserved.
“It’s a great achievement, because Grace is still only 13,” said Boxall.
“Although she has previously represented England, this is her first championship event.
“She’s played in some development tournaments but this is a little bit more serious now.
“This is a massive reward for her – and her parents, who have been very supportive. She deserves it.
“It will be interesting to see how she gets on.
“She will be a year younger than some of the players, so it will be tough.
“She will be up against some bigger, stronger girls, so it will be good to see how she copes.
“It will be a good experience for her.”
Boxall believes King has a bright future ahead of her.
“I’ve been working with Grace for about two and a half years – pretty much since she started playing badminton,” he said.
“Her biggest achievement is to have got to this level in such a short space of time.
“She’s one of the most hard-working kids I’ve ever met.
“She’s got great potential and her attitude is flawless.
“She works so, so hard – day in, day out, no matter what. She’s relentless.
“She really does want it and she’s got as good a chance as anybody.
“She’s a very talented kid but that doesn’t matter if you don’t have the desire and willingness to go with it.
“Fortunately, Grace does – she has what it takes to progress as far as she wants to.”
Another Derbyshire prospect, David Hong, has also been celebrating an international call-up.
The 13-year-old Allestree Woodlands School pupil is in the England Under-13 squad for a home friendly international against Denmark, also next month.
Hong and King are both part of the Derbyshire Badminton Performance Centre based at Etwall and are supported by the Derbyshire Institute of Sport.
“We’ve got a good group coming through,” said Boxall.
“Grace and David are the pick of the bunch at the moment.
“They’ve both done very well.”