End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
It’s days like these….Eamon Brennan – 9th November 2017
If you asked me why I turn up, week in week out, to volunteer at the Friday community sessions, I would say that a rewarding session like Friday the 3rd of November is exactly the reason why I do it.
Friday evenings at Chelsea Academy tend to start slow. When I arrive around 4:40pm, you can find the usual after-school kids, letting off some steam after a hard week hitting the books. Then the others begin to drift in, some younger, some older.
I usually start by hitting a few balls with whoever happens to be around. This week it was a newcomer — Archie — equipped with a ferocious serve, a great attitude, and precious little else. I think this kid will go far.
Then Gillian turned up. One of our older regulars whom we hadn’t seen for a few weeks. Gillian wanted to warm up on the robot so I wandered off to set it up. Jon doesn’t have a lot of hard and fast rules on Friday evenings but one of them is that the robot is out of bounds if you are not training on it. Otherwise it tends to draw a crowd. In the few minutes I spent putting together the robot and its catching net, I got the usual stream of requests to try it out and as usual I passed all those requests on to Mr Kaufmann, who, as always, sent me a steady stream of youngsters throughout the evening, all eager to try their hand.
There were some very nice surprises as the evening wore on. Rose’s forehand began to look like a proper stroke for the first time. Abdu has added some serious power to his shots, and some of our younger players like Josh are beginning to brush the ball rather than just wallop it.
Once the top table ended I got in a quick tactical session with Sophie, who along with Ezana and Harry are probably our most analytical players. Sophie’s service needed some work, both technically and tactically. The session went well with nasty deep serves sprayed to both corners of the table and giving me a real headache in getting the returns back.
The penultimate part of the evening is playing killer. This time it came down to Charlie and Ezana. Charlie raced to an early lead but some barracking from the rowdy audience caused him to stumble towards the end. Ezana put in a spirited fight but in the end the cash prize and bragging rights went to Mr Derecki.
Then the tables and other equipment need to be put away. Some of the older boys helped out and the evening came to a close. While the tables were being returned to their storage room, I set another competition on the bounce board, with Charlie’s brother Harry coming out on top and winning the princely sum of £1.
All in all it was a really good evening with some of the youngsters showing real improvement and all of them working hard for every little victory.
Sessions like this put a big smile on my face and that is why I keep coming here every Friday.