TABLE TENNIS: Grantham trio compete in two star event

Aalhad Kulkarni receives his runner-up trophy at Bishop Auckland.
Aalhad Kulkarni receives his runner-up trophy at Bishop Auckland.
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Three players from Cliffedale Chandlers Table Tennis Club travelled to County Durham to compete in the Bishop Auckland Two Star competition recently.

King’s School pupils Aalhad Kulkarni, Flynn Connolly and Jai Mistry-Moulton all competed in both the Cadet and Junior events at this popular competition, so they had their work cut out and had to perform to their best.

All three had very tough groups with only Flynn progressing to the last 16 stage after finishing second in his Cadet group, but alas he couldn’t make it through to the quarter-finals, Aalhad and Jai finished third and fourth respectively and went through to the plate competition where by a strange quirk in the draw they faced each other, with Aalhad winning three sets to nil.

Aalhad made steady progress, breezing through his quarter- and semi-finals to make the plate final where he faced home club player Troy Maddison. After going a set down (11-3), Aalhad overcame his nerves to win the next two (8-11, 7-11) to take a 2-1 lead, but his jitters returned in the crucial fourth set and Troy got right back in the tie by winning it 11-3 to level the scores.

In a tight fifth set, a couple of unlucky bounces and an unfortunate mistake by Aalhad let the Durham lad take the last set 11-8, leaving the young Chandlers player to claim the runner-up spot.

All three were soon back in action in the Juniors event.

Again, with even tougher groups, the trio found it tough going and failed to make it to the main event but did go into the plate competition.

Aalhad, aiming for his second plate final of the day, ran out of steam and fell at the first hurdle, leaving Flynn and Jai to progress further. Jai went out in the quarter-finals, leaving Flynn to carry the Chandlers flag; he made it to the semi-finals but this is where his day ended.

Club coach Alex Mercer who had travelled with the boys was pleased with their efforts: “I couldn’t have asked for more, they tried their best and played some terrific stuff. They’ve made notes on where they can improve and we’ll take them away and work on them with them.”

l Cliffedale Chandlers hold three sessions a week at The Meres leisure centre, Tuesday and Friday nights from 7pm and Saturdays from 12pm. Sessions are open to all ages and abilities. If you are interested in trying something new, your first two sessions are free. For more information, find the club on Facebook.