TABLE TENNIS: Grantham schoolgirls contest national finals

Cliffedale Primary School U11 girls.

Cliffedale Primary School U11 girls.

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Having won the regional finals earlier in the month, Cliffedale Primary School U11 girls went through to the ESTTA Butterfly 2017 National Finals last weekend.

There were many age groups from U11s to U19s for both boy and girl teams. The spread of 31 teams showed the geographical dominance of the sport through funding, academies and table tennis being on the school curriculum.

The event for the girls started at the intensity they left the regionals. Cliffedale’s first round was with The Pilgrim School, Rochester, who became eventual overall winners, losing 7-1. The second round was no different, the girls put on a stronger fight facing eventual runners-up St Andrew’s, Plymouth, but it was closer than it suggested in a 6-2 loss.

The third round was to decide the final placings and Lucy led the charge with her “come on” game cry and fist punch when she nudged ahead and then went on to win to lift the team. Hannah faced off a difficult match to just lose and it was clear this round was going all the way.

Ella followed suit after Lucy’s win and eventually the outcome went down to a countback. As expected it came down to the final match and final set with Chloe, who had fought back from two sets down to 2-2, with her team and parents cheering her on. Emotions were running high as it finished in a tie-break situation, resulting in a 12-10 defeat.

The girls deserved third, missing out on second by just two points, but came away Regional Winners and fourth best U11 girls’ school team in country – an incredible feat for an after-school club and also a fantastic way for friends to finish their primary years together.