TABLE TENNIS: Grantham’s Leete is a national champion

National doubles champions Matt Leete and Josh Bennett in action. Photo: Michael Loveder
National doubles champions Matt Leete and Josh Bennett in action. Photo: Michael Loveder
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Grantham’s Matt Leete is celebrating becoming a national champion.

The 17-year-old won the Junior Boys’ Doubles title alongside Josh Bennett at the Cadet and Junior National Championships – and he added silver medals in the singles and in the mixed doubles.

The triumphant pair show off their newly-acquired silverware. Photo: Michael Loveder

The triumphant pair show off their newly-acquired silverware. Photo: Michael Loveder

Matt and Bennett were seeded second for the doubles and claimed the title with a 3-1 (11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7) victory over James Smith and Ethan Walsh, who had earlier knocked out top seeds Tom Jarvis and Luke Savill.

It was a satisfying outcome for the second seeds, who had been beaten in last year’s final.

Matt had earlier won silver in the mixed doubles in partnership with Charlotte Bardsley, the pair being defeated 3-1 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-3) by James Smith and Denise Payet in the final.

And Matt ended his stellar day with silver in the singles as he was defeated by defending champion Jarvis, going down 4-2 (4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5) in a battle of the top two seeds.

The previous day, Matt had again struck silver in the team event as Grantham College – also featuring Joe Clark and Olly Tyndall – were beaten 3-2 by Blades TTC. Matt was defeated in the final match by James Smith, who staged a great fightback to win 3-2 (8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9).

Despite the near misses, Matt was happy with his weekend’s work. He said: “I was happy with how I played in the early rounds and I raised my game after that, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat Tom.

“The best player won, but I’m obviously disappointed not to get the title. It seems like I’ve improved in the last year and put my training to good use – I just need a bit more to get over the line.”

Matt was not the only Cliffedale Chandlers Club member winning medals.

Kris Sumner was competing at the World Masters Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, with her RAF team-mates.

Kris came home sporting a bronze and silver medal, the bronze came after she defeated team-mate Hayley Cunningham in the third place play-off and the silver coming in the Women’s Doubles with Hayley as her partner.

The action did not stop there, though, for the Grantham-based club.

Five of the club’s younger members were in action a little closer to home in Wolverhampton at the ESTTA Schools Individual Championships.

Lucy Bridle (U11) and Stefi Popa (U13) both finished second in their respective groups by playing some outstanding table tennis and only losing one match each to progress to the last 16 of their age groups.

But this was the stage where their competition ended, Stefi going down 3-1 in her tie and a valiant Lucy losing an epic fifth end to go down 3-2.

Jake Crane and Flynn Connolly found the going hard as both had tough groups, winning only one of their matches.

Jake put in a terrific effort but was hampered by an injury suffered only days before which left his arm in plaster. Flynn’s results did not do him justice as he made his opponents work for their victories.

Benjamin Rigby was the last of the Chandlers quintet in action. He also found it tough going but put in the performances of his life in a real battling display and give a fright to the eventual group winner and runner-up, taking them both to five ends, the only one in the group to do so.

Benjamin’s improvement from the beginning of the season is a testament to his hard work and dedication in training.