Cliffedale Primary School under-11 girls’ team won the regional finals to qualify for the English Schools Table Tennis National Finals.
More than 270 schools across 38 counties have been battling it out over this winter in Zone competitions.
Representing Cliffedale were local girls Lucy Bridle, Hannah Latter, Ella Weavers, Chloe Moore and Amy Bridle, who beat off schools from Liverpool, Harrogate and East Bridgford in the regional finals to go through to the last four Schools and the nationals, which are to be played at Hinckley on March 25.
Last year, Cliffedale reached the regional finals only to be knocked out by a Nottingham school. This year they faced another Nottingham school, East Bridgford, and put in a stunning performance all day, leading into a tense and gripping final last match to decide who would win and progress to the nationals.
It was a momentous team effort from players, coaches and parents as emotions ran high and the games went the full distance (four or five sets), with breathtaking rallies.
A draw was on the cards between the two schools and it went down to the final pair which saw coaches checking to see where the teams were sitting should it go to countback at a four games all draw. Cliffedale needed to win one set in the final match to secure their place in the national finals should it go to a draw, but there was need as their team spirit became the deciding factor and they took the first set and then the game to finish 5-3 victors.
Over the last three years, the school has reached the regional finals each time and in 2015 they made the national finals but finished fourth. That team featured a younger Lucy Bridle, experience that will help the team settle as they chase to go a bit further this time or repeat the 2005 success which saw the school win the national event.
School coach John Mapletoft, chairman and head coach of GAPS, is working with local club Cliffedale Chandlers to put together extra training over the next few weeks to best prepare the players. He said: “Table tennis is a great game for all ages and abilities. Grantham has a great heritage in table tennis within schools and developed numerous champions over the last 50 years; let’s hope we can produce a few more this year.” l If you want to know more about the game, school and local clubs, contact John at GAPS or Cliffedale Chandlers.