End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Ashburnham Boys: Under 11 Champions of LondonEamon Brennan – 12th May 2016
After three years of dedicated hard work and a few frustrating set-backs, Ashburnham Primary School, from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, were finally crowned Boys Under 11 Table Tennis Champions of London. Having recently qualified as Central London Champions, the Ashburnham boys prepared themselves to take on the very best of Greater London and were not found wanting.
Having swept through their opening group with ease, with top order players Harry Derecki and Abed Rahman imperiously sweeping all before them, Ashburnham found themselves in a thrilling semi-final encounter against North London Champions Highgate Juniors. It was an epic encounter that having ended in a 4-4 draw, Ashburnham managed to win by the narrowest of games count-back. Once again Derecki and Rahman were outstanding.
If the semi-final had proved nail-biting the final, against South London’s Whitgift School, was to prove positively stomach-churning in intensity. Ashburnham No1, Harry Derecki, continued his unbeaten run by dispatching Whitegift’s No2 in three straight sets but then Ashburnham proceeded to loose, by the narrowest of margins, the next three games. At 3-1 down all seemed lost. Derecki pulled one back against a very impressive Whitgift No 1, but almost immediately Ashburnham found themselves 4-2 down.
The very best Ashburnham could hope for was a draw but that possibility, on paper at least, looked quite remote. But sport, being forever unpredictable, provided one of those shock results. The Ashburnham No 3 & 4, Boubacar Stanley and Mohammed Kaba, both of whom had struggled with the high level of competition in the semi-final, spectacularly, almost miraculously, raised their level of play and swept away their respective opponents to give Ashburnham a 4-4 result that had earlier seemed beyond them. And then, once again, came the nail-biting games count-back.
It only took a few minutes for the officials to do the necessary arithmetic but those few minutes seemed an eternity for the Ashburnham squad. The result was clear and emphatic; Ashburnham were 2016 Jack Petchey London Under 11 Champions. And Harry, Abed, Boubacar, Mohammed and William all knew they had played their part. A truly magnificent team effort.