Nail­bit­ing fin­ish sees academy through to re­gion­als

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT -

HARE­FIELD Academy claimed a vic­tory dou­ble in the re­cent Jack Petchey London Schools’ Ta­ble Ten­nis Team Fi­nals.

The Academy’s un­der-19 boys’ and girls’ teams car­ried off top hon­ours at the Sport­sDock in the Univer­sity of East London, with the boys win­ning in the tight­est fi­nal in the event’s his­tory. Both will now go for­ward to the English Schools As­so­ci­a­tion Re­gional fi­nals in March.

The boys pro­gressed to the ex­pected fi­nal against Croy­don’s Whit­gift School but were trail­ing 3-0.

Is­rael Awolaja got Hare­field on the board with a win over Ja­son Kwok and James Chap­pell re­duced the ar­rears with a bril­liant win over Eng­land Youth squad mem­ber James Smith.

Gau­rav Aravind lev­elled by bat- tling past Reiss Vy­delingum and when Awolaja got be­yond Ge­orge Hazell the tide seemed to have turned in Hare­field’s favour.

They were on the brink of vic­tory when Lee Clark led Kwok 2-0, only for the Whit­gift young­ster to win three straight games and tie things at 4-4. Count­back kicked in but with the set score locked at 18-18, it came down to points won. Fin­ger­nails were chewed in an ag­o­nis­ing wait be­fore Hare­field were crowned win­ners, 334-332. Long­stand­ing Hare­field coach Eli Baraty said: “These are the top two schools in London so we ex­pected the boys fi­nal to be tight. It’s great for the sport and this is a top com­pe­ti­tion in a great fa­cil­ity. It mo­ti­vates our play­ers and sets a high stan­dard.”

The girls’ suc­cess caused fewer pal­pi­ta­tions, the duo of Zahna Hall and Sarah Menghistab win­ning the round-robin group with­out drop­ping a match, to re­tain their ti­tle.

DOU­BLE TIME: Hare­field Academy’s ta­ble ten­nis aces.

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