Table Tennis, 15.1.16

January 16, 2017

Table Tennis zonal finals @ Tower Hamlets College, Under 11 Girls

On Sunday 15th January, the Greenway under 11 table tennis girls embarked on their next episode since winning the county finals. Their success at the county finals meant they had to compete at the zonal finals. None of us knew what to expect, as we had never been this far in a competition before.

It was an early start, as the girls had to be at Berkhamsted station for 8 in the morning. When we arrived, it started to sink in for the staff just how competitive the day was going to be. Before we could brief the girls on the day ahead, they had already found a table and were playing against each other!

After a long break at the start, the girls got their zonal finals experience underway. The team they were playing against were clearly a strong outfit. Out of their 4 girls, 3 had been to this stage before. They knew what to expect and had the mind-set to match. Greenway girls did start off a little weary and you could see the nerves in their play. But the key thing for me was the smiles on their faces. Our girls were losing and still they plodded on with big grins. As the day went on, this became a bit of a theme. I have never seen a team so happy to just be playing a sport they love competitively and content with the difficulty. The girl’s state of mind ensured they grew in confidence. Soon they were wining more points, then games and soon enough even matches. They lost 6-2 overall to this team, but the way they bounced back was brilliant to see!

Straight away, the girls got into their next round of matches. With their increasing confidence, they stormed to victories. Unlike the county event, not only did you play your ranked counterpart but also another player. So the girls had to play 2 people. Ranks 1’s and 3’s would play against each other as did 2’s and 4’s. Therefore, the match ups can be really difficult. However, as I mentioned, they stormed to victories. They walked over this team 8-0 with all of the girls winning every individual match and every individual game. Of course, the girls were still smiling!

Next, the girls showed even more rounded performances. Alice started to place all her shots in really challenging areas, Margot was playing ‘anything you can do, I can do better’! Nobody could return Izzy’s serve and nobody had an answer for Livy’s forehand smashes! The girls played on their strengths which saw them take another 8-0 win. This meant they now went into the final round of games in the same position as their next opponents. Both had lost to the same team and both had won against the others.

The games against their ranked counterparts proved to be thrilling match ups. They were really tight games which meant fractions when it came to winning matches. The girls stepped up their game and took it to the opposition. In this round, it was actually the games against the opponent that wasn’t your ranked counterpart which proved interesting. Margot was destroying the ranked 2 who had caused Livy some problems and Livy was now storming against ranked 4 who caused Margot problems. Alice dominated the girl Izzy had already beaten and finally, Izzy was exploiting the rank 1’s weakness like Alice had previously done to win some games. You had to play your opponent over 5 matches and it was the first to reach 3 wins. After Alice, Margot and Livy had finished theirs, Izzy had emphatically taken the rank 1 (who beat Alice 3-1, in very tight games) to a final game. The score was at 2-2. Izzy had taken note of Alice’s game plan to attack the back hand of this rank 1 and used it again. Izzy attacked the back hand and kept taking points. Unfortunately, she lost that game and therefore lost 3-2 but those 2 games she won could prove very important. It goes to show the girls mind-set; to keep playing away even when you lose was vital. None of them worried about the result and they all battled for any amount of points. We were 4-4 against this team, but took the win on games 18-12. This meant that final round of games, where the girls stepped it up a gear proved pivotal. We were level after the girls had played their ranked counterpart. It was in fact, the games where you had to play the lower or higher rank which took the girls to victory.

The girls, on this day, proved so many theories right. Practise, does make perfect. Never give up. Most importantly…Enjoy yourself!

They finished second on the day, which saw them qualify for the regional finals in Bristol as runners up. The girls continue to astonish me with their attitude, determination and passion. They epitomise the Greenway values. Well done again to Alice, Margot, Livy and Izzy. The journey continues……..!

Mr Lewis

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