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TABLE TENNIS: Grantham club quintet compete in schools event

Walton Girls pupils Emily Winfield and Abigail Robinson with 2016 Para Olympic champion Will Bayley MBE.
Walton Girls pupils Emily Winfield and Abigail Robinson with 2016 Para Olympic champion Will Bayley MBE.

Five young table tennis players from Cliffedale Chandlers Table Tennis Club travelled to Wolverhampton to compete in the Schools Individual Championships.

For four of the five it was the first time they had competed at the finals in this competition. Phoenix Mason (Isaac Newton), James Hobbs (Barrowby), Jai Mistry-Moulton (King’s) and Tom Konarski (King’s) were making their debut at the finals after all had become Lincolnshire Schools Champions in their age groups earlier in the year. Only Steffi Popa (Priory Ruskin) had been to this stage before.

Phoenix competed in the U11 girls category and despite winning two out of her four matches, she finished third in her group.

James competed in the U11 boys but found it tough going after being drawn in a group in which all his competitors had national rankings, but he put in a valiant effort and still enjoyed his day. He used the experienced the following day at the National Cadet League where he played some of his best table tennis to date.

Jai (U13 boys) was also drawn in a tough group, facing higher ranked players including the number two in England. He lost all but one of his matches but showed great improvements as the day went on.

Steffi (U13 girls) finished second in her group but unfortunately went out in the last 16 to a higher ranked and more experienced player. Having competed at last year’s finals, reaching the last 16 stage was a big improvement.

In the under-16 boys, Tom was faced a big challenge in his first major finals. He only took up the sport about 12 months ago but has shown great ability and his recent form had been outstanding, but this was not enough to see him through to the next round, even after some good performances. Tom lost all of his group games and failed to progress.

The club were also represented on the officiating front by Flynn Connolly and Cathy Steeples.

Meanwhile, some members of the club saw action of a different kind.

Several of them were lending a helping hand at the British Para Table Tennis National Championships held at The Meres leisure centre. The championships featured recent Commonwealth Games medallists as well as Para Olympic champions.

The members of the club were there to act as ball boys/girls for those wheelchair-bound players who would normally have difficulty picking up any stray balls.

Those members that gave up their time were Hannah Winfield, Emily Winfield, Frazer Winfield , Susie Dilloway, Benjamin Rigby, Gregory Fray, Trafford Mason and Abigail Robinson.

Club chairman Darran Leete had been in earlier in the morning and assisted with the setting up of the equipment before the start of the competition.


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