Article by Donald Pirie
The Scottish Senior Schools Table Tennis Championships took place on Sunday 25 February, with the usual strong contingent of ASV Table Tennis Academy players in attendance.
Things got off to a great start before the tournament event started, with ASV Academy U18 players Isla Stott (St. Margaret's school) & Chelsea Wong (Albyn School) being selected for the team to represent Scotland at the UK Schools event, taking place in June at Sheffield this year.
The rest of the age group categories were not so clear cut, and our players had to been on their best form to gain selection to that same Scottish Team.
In the U14 boys event Aberdeen had the top two seeds in Yifei Fang (Robert Gordon's School) & Josef Bokedal (Aberdeen Grammar). By a quirk of his birthday date, we also had Louis Loi (Turriff Academy) also in the U14 event. Louis played in the Primary schools championships late last year, qualifying for the Scottish Primary team, and had a unique opportunity to represent Scotland Senior schools in the same season. Things went as expected for both Yifei & Josef in the early groups and rounds, and both made it through to the quarter finals. Louis also made it through to the quarters, dispatching two higher seeded players than him to make it through.
All Aberdeen boys avoided each other in the quarter-finals, with Yifei comfortably coming through to the last 4. Josef was unexpectedly under pressure, and although came back from 6-10 down in his fifth and deciding set, he eventually lost out 11-13. Louis however continued to play exceptionally well, and made it to the last 4! This secured his selection for the Scottish U14 Senior Schools team, and will now uniquely represent both the Primary & Secondary National teams this year - not something that has every been achieved by an Aberdeen player in the past.
Yifei's domination of the event continued, and he went all the way to become Champion and take the U14 Scottish Schools title, only dropping one set across the entire day! Louis capped off his excellent day with a Silver Medal and was the only player to take a set from Yifei, great achievement for the ASV Academy U14 boys.
ASV Table Tennis Academy's current UK schools U16 Title Holder Tessa Yau (Albyn School) had a mixed day in the girls U16 event. Tessa remained comfortable and unbeaten through to the semi-final stage - thus securing her Scotland team selection with no problems.
However during her semi-final match Tessa found herself 0-2 down. Tessa rallied and took the next set comfortably, and was starting to look favourite again. At the start of the 4th set Tessa took an unexpected and severe nosebleed. Tessa had to leave court-side and stem the blood flow before returning. However a maximum of 10-min break by any player for any reason is the rule, and it was 12-min before Tessa could control this and return to court. This meant the tournament referee Senga Thomson had to disqualify Tessa from that match! While all felt this was harsh, it was by the rulebook and the best Tessa could hope for was a Bronze medal. Tessa duly achieved that but was overall disappointed with how the day unfolded. She will have the chance to defend her UK title in Sheffield later this year however.
Aberdeen's Dylan Curry (Banchory Academy) was top seed and favourite for the U16 boys title. This looked very likely as Dylan comfortably made his way through to the final with very little fuss. Dylan, the current UK Silver Medallist, came up against Danny Bajwa from Dumfries in the final match. This was a tight match, and after a slow start Dylan took a 2-1 lead. This looked to be the match over but Danny rallied and against all expectations managed to get past Dylan 9-11 in the deciding end! Dylan had to settle for the Silver medal.
As well as the top four qualifying for the Scotland Team for the UK Senior Schools championships, the player finishing in 5th place (after the 5 to 8 play off matches) gains the 'first reserve' place for the Scottish team, and several ASV Academy players also finished in this position.
Josef Bokedal (Aberdeen Grammar) finished in 5th place in the U14 boys event (see above).
Rafal Wilowski (Banchory Academy) finished in 5th place in the very strong U16 boys event.
Andrew McRae (Westhill Academy) finished in 5th place in the U18 boys event, with Andrew losing out on a top 4 place to Charlie Morton I(Glasgow) 9-11 in the fifth and deciding end in their quarter-final.
Another excellent tournament from the ASV TT Academy players, with a total of 6 Scottish selections from Aberdeen, and a further 3 players in the reserve position. From the team of 24 players this represents 25% of the entire Scottish Team coming from the ASV Academy.
Two weeks earlier, Dylan Curry was involved in the conclusion of the Junior (U18) British league. This took place in Derby with the top players from across the country and several competitors from abroad taking part. Dylan (still 15yrs old) was part of premier division team E.Batt Colebridge, along with players from France and England. At the start of the weekend two teams were in joint first place, E.Batt and Cliffedale, with both teams having 3 games left to play. Ebatt won their first 2 games 6-0 and 5-1, then ended the hopes of one of the other top four teams (BATTS) with another 6-0 win, putting them in a very strong position. In their final match, E.Batt went on to draw with Cliffedale, 3 games all, but this was enough take the British League U18 title with one match to spare!
Dylan had one of the best averages in the division winning, 12 of his 16 games, and beating a number of top English players along the way. Another great success for ASV Academy players.
The next event on the calendar is the Scottish Team Championships, with players from ASV Academy representing 5 Aberdeen teams at various age groups, again we have high hopes for success at that event, taking place in Perth at the end of the month.