Nailbiting finish sees academy through to regionals
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.