End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
Weekly Report – A Super Saturday for West London PingEamon Brennan – 20th January 2017
If we were to write a script for the perfect tournament ending, we could not do much better than to record what actually happened at the Jack Petchey London School’s Championships held at the UEA this Saturday. At least this was the case for West London Ping, who walked away with two golds and three silver medals.
In a perfect finale to the Under 11 events, Barnes Primary and Ashburnham Primary were pitted against each other in both the Boys and Girls finals – the perfect result from a West London Ping perspective. But it nearly didn’t happen.
Barnes sailed through their semi-final against Chingford CE Primary School 8-0 but for Ashburnham Primary it was altogether a more fraught affair. Slipping to an early 2-1 deficit and losing in the fourth game, it looked like the perfect day for WLP was about to come to an abrupt halt at the hands of a clever and combative City of London team. But then up stepped William Nesmeth-Andersen from Ashburnham and the tide of defeat was halted – at least temporarily. In a wonderful display of fore-hand top spin drives and smashes, William came from a game down to finally record a comfortable win.
Ashburnham’s indestructible No1, Harry Derecki, predictably won his next game giving the Ashburnham boys a narrow 3-2 lead which looked like it would almost immediately evaporate as Mohammed K found himself two games down against a determined opponent. This was the pivotal moment.
With Ashburnham on the ropes, up stepped the Ashburnham support team led by Eamon Brennan and a distraught Mohammed spectacularly regained his focus to win the match 3 games to 2. More heroics from William, and Ashburnham were finally over the finishing line and into the finals.
The finals were something special and not just because West London Ping were assured of gold and silver in both boys and girls events. The standard of table tennis was magnificent and the sporting attitudes were equally commendable. The boys (Harry, Mohammed, William, Zayne and Uwab for Ashburnham and Ed, Trishton, Mohammed and Qais for Barnes) had already met at the group stage, and in an enthralling, encounter the Barnes boys took a psychological lead by winning on a games-countback after the match finished all-square at 4-4. But in the final, in another captivating match, the balance shifted decisively in favour of Barnes after the titanic battle of the Mohammeds. Mohammed Larbi from Barnes ever so narrowly got the better of his Ashburnham namesake and the Gold medal was heading to Barnes Primary.
In the battle of the No 1’s, Harry Derecki proved just too strong for Ed Gooze-Zijl but both players were a credit to the game, offering up fast attacking but tactical games of table tennis that had all the parents and coaches cheering from the side-lines. Both Harry and Ed have the potential for glittering careers in table tennis and both will be hoping to advance to the National Schools Individual Championships later on this year. The battle between Trishton and William was equally hypnotic with Trishton finishing just a little stronger to take Barnes a step closer to the gold medal.
Another fascinating encounter developed between Qais and Zayne, the two No 4’s of their respective teams. Both players seemed to warm to the occasion and provided a level of competition that they had both hitherto yet to produce. Both lads have now made a serious statement as to their right for a place in their respective teams for the forthcoming South of England team Championships.
On the adjoining tables, the Ashburnham Girls (Hadil, Chanelle, Nyah, Ayan and Grace) were doing battle with the Barnes girls (Annie, Riva, Lauren, Hannah and Pippa) in a long-awaited West London Ping challenge for supremacy. Once again, great table tennis was on display for a large parent contingent and the parents would not have been disappointed. Year five, Annie Williams, using the experience gained from last season’s tournaments, came out on top of her battle with Ashburnham’s very determined Hadil, and from there on, Barnes started to dominate the fixture. Mention should also go to Riva Hempsell, who showed huge improvement since last season, and her contributions to the match should not be underestimated. All the girls, from both teams, put in impressive performances, and if these two highly motivated teams can get through their respective South of England qualification tournaments they may well get to face each other again in the National Finals.
Special thanks should go to the large contingent of parents that gave up their time to support and encourage their youngsters. Particular thanks go to Jan and Chris who stepped up to manage the Barnes teams, and to Eamon, Alvaro and Becky who steered and steadied the Ashburnham teams throughout the day. Your contributions were magnificent and much needed.
There was more good news, and I must say slightly unexpected good news, for West London Ping. Whilst all the excitement was unfolding in the Under 11 finals, ex-Fox girls had regrouped themselves into the Holland Park Academy U16 team. This team, consisting of only one Under 16 girl (Arianna Di-Giammarino), the other three being in the U13 age group (Rose, Valentina and Colette), stormed their way to the U16 Finals, thus ensuring themselves a place in the South of England Championships. Coach Natacha will be feeling very pleased with their collective effort.
There was even more good news from the Under 13’s Girl’s event, where former Barnes stars, Jaikalin and Elizabeth led their Richmond Park Academy team to the medals podium with a gold medal performance in their group of three. Both Jaikalin and Elizabeth have tasted success at the National Schools Championships and they will be hoping to add to their Barnes medals haul later this year.
Tournaments are not always about winning medals and trophies, nice as they are. Gaining much needed experience is just as valuable. It was for this reason that West London Ping encouraged William Hogarth Primary School to enter the ESTTA competition this year, and to everyone’s delight this very young and inexperienced squad put up a creditable and enthusiastic performance throughout the day. A massive vote of thanks to WLP child welfare officer, Maggie Curran, for making it happen and don’t be surprised if these young Chiswick boys throw a few surprises next season. Well done to Sam, Rio, John and Year 3 Sacha. Your future in ping looks bright. Watch your backs, Barnes!
There is another individual who, although not actually at the tournament in person, had a profound influence on the proceedings; a one Ms Charleigh Kirby. Her coaching endeavours right across the West London Ping project over the previous three years were clearly on display throughout the day, and I’m sure all the players and their parents will join me in offering Charleigh a big thank-you and good luck in your university studies.
Finally, it is time to get ready for the next stage of the Championships and that can only mean training, training and more training. Please ensure you make every effort to attend the Friday evening community sessions at the Chelsea Academy 5pm to 7pm. Whiles others sleep, we train!
Remember also to sign up for the ESTTA individual Championships to be held at Chelsea on the 3rd/10th/24th Feb. Entry forms on the ESTTA website. Note also that the next round of the National Junior League is on Saturday 4th February at its usual venue in the London Academy in Stanmore. And ensure, for those involved, you have in your diaries the dates for the South of England Championships. Winners at Bournemouth 4th March, Runners-up in Bristol 5th March.
Best Regards to all. JK