On Sunday Feb 1st 4 boys from The Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School travelled to Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury to represent Herefordshire in the English Schools Table Tennis Association Zone Under 16 Finals.
The boys lost 7-1 in their first group game to Halte Performing Arts School from Birmingham, with Jake Price getting our win. In our second group game we had an excellent 6-2 win against Wood Green Academy who turned up with 3 players giving us a 2 game head start. Jake Price won his 2 games, and Kyle Day and Harry hales both won one match. This meant we qualified as runners up in the group.
We then had to play Deer Park School, Gloucestershire in the semi-final who had topped the second group. This proved to be a really tense and exciting match. We went 3-1 up with a win each from Jake, Matthew and Kyle before Gloucestershire came back strongly to go ahead 4-3 with one match left. If the match finished 4-4, the match would be decided on sets won, then if this was still even, points won. We needed a 3-0 win to go through, (a 3-1 win would have put us equal on games and sets, while a 3-2 win or loss would have knocked us out.) Kyle Day had to play the Gloucestershire no 4. In very tight sets Kyle Day managed to come through and win 3-0 which put us through to the final.
In the final we had to play Halte again who had won their semi-final. Halte beat us again 7-1. We did, however, improve our sets won average. Matthew Jones won the only game for us. Several of the games we lost went to 5 sets.
Overall, Jake Price was excellent winning 4 out of 8 games playing as no 1. Harry Hales was quite unlucky to only win 1 game out of 8 playing as no 2; he played very well against some tough opponents. Matthew Jones had an excellent day at no 3, winning 3 out of 8 (1 default) with the highlight beating a very strong player in the final. Kyle Day also played very well at no 4, winning 4 out of 8 (1 default). What makes the achievement stand out is this was an Under16 age group and only one of our players is in Year 11. The team that beat us in the final had 4 Year 11s playing.
As runners up we now go through to the regional finals in Bournemouth in March with 8 other zone runners up from all over the country.
The attitude and behaviour of all the boys was outstanding. The boys had to umpire the games when they were not playing; they also supported each other well with help and hints about tactics. They conducted themselves with equal and appropriate measures of competitiveness, sportsmanship and dignity in both victory and defeat.
Match report by Simon Morgan