U11-14 National Championships Report
Four Westfield players took the long drive up to Doncaster on the bank holiday weekend in May to take on the best in the country for their respective age groups. These players included Miles Chan who was competing in the U13 and U14 singles and U14 doubles; Nicole Bird was also in the U13 and U14 singles; Alex Ramsden was competing in the U11 and U12 singles and Bhavika Mistry was competing in the U11 singles.
With the exception of Miles Chan who qualified for the National Championships from his national ranking position, all the other players had to finish in the top 4 in the East Midlands Regional qualification event two months ago.
So to the competition; the older age groups were up first with Miles Chan and Nicole Bird competing in the U14 singles. Miles did well to win his group and Nicole finished in her seeded second position in her group. In the following round both players had solid wins, Miles beat Daniel Wright from Middlesex 3-1 and Nicole Bird beat Nicole Ferreira, who had beaten England U13 number two Chrissie Slot in the group stage. That was to be both players last win in this event however, Miles losing out to a higher seeded player in the last 16 and Nicole doing likewise in the last 8.
The U14 doubles was next up for Miles, playing with Northants colleague and U13 rival Sam Mabey. Both players played out of their skin to reach the final without dropping an end, they continued with their fine display of attacking skills to take a brilliant final 3-1 against the number 1 seeds from Peniel Academy. A first national title for Miles Chan, well done!!
The next event up was the U13 singles, which was Miles and Nicole’s main age group. Miles playing as the number 4 seed, duly won his group and moved into the knockout stage. Nicole on the other side of the hall had an excellent win in her group beating England U13 number 6 to top her group.
Miles then had a bye in the first round, followed by a comfortable win against Daniel Wright in the next round. Nicole unfortunately lost out in 5 close sets to Samantha Lai from Middlesex in the first round after the group stages.
Miles followed this up with a 3-2 quarter final win over Ronan Kelly from Derbyshire, Miles was playing some of the best table tennis of his season in the first two ends and went 2-0 up. However, a slight lapse in concentration showed how table tennis can turn round so quickly with Ronan taking the next 2 ends. Miles upped the tempo in the 5th end to take him into the semi final with a 3-2 win.
Miles got off to a brilliant start in his semi final against number 1 seed Helshan Weerashinge from Sussex, going 1-0 up with an 11-9 first end win. Unfortunately Miles was not able to maintain his attacking play in the next 3 ends and went down by 3 games to 1. Helshan went on to win the event beating Northamptonshire’s Sam Mabey in the final 3-0.
On the Sunday the younger players were in action. Alex Ramsden was up first in the U12 singles and despite a tough group managed to come through on count back. This took Alex into the next round with a winnable last 32 match, Alex took a 2-0 lead but then similar to Miles in the earlier match took his foot off the pedal and stopped attacking. As a result Daniel Clark got back into the match and took it by 3 games to 2.
The U11 boys and girls singles was the last event of the weekend, with both Alex Ramsden and Bhavika Mistry playing in this age group, with 1 year and 2 years left in the age group after this year respectively. Alex Ramsden, seeded second in his group had two comfortable wins and a loss to the seeded player in the group.
Bhavika had been battling hard at the other end of the hall to narrowly lose out in her first group match 3-1, she then lost 3-0 to number 1 seed for the event Abigail Griffiths who was 3 years Bhavika’s senior. The opponent Bhavika had not played yet went on to beat the player Bhavika lost to in the first match 3-2. This meant if Bhavika won her last match 3-0 she would go through but anything less than that she would lose out. Bhavika duly delivered an excellent performance to win her match 3-0 and take her through to the last 16.
Alex Ramsden had a tough last 32 match against Jonathon Abbot who was just ranked below him. Alex played some of his best table tennis of the day to win 3-0 and take him into the last 16. Bhavika had a difficult match and just lost out 3-0 to Denise Payet from Middlesex, however two ends were lost to 9 and 8 so it was a tight match.
In Alex’s last 16 match he faced number 3 seed Tom Jarvis. Alex acquitted himself well in all 3 ends but just made 2 or 3 too many unforced errors in each end to lose out 3-0. These were both excellent performances from Bhavika and Alex as they both have years left in this age category. Alex is currently ranked at number 14 in England for U11’s but all of the players above him are too old next year. This means Alex is an excellent position with some hard work and training to compete well next year in the competition.
Over the weekend there were 2 medals for Miles Chan, a gold and a bronze; with Nicole reaching the last 8 and Bhavika and Alex reaching the last 16 in England, so overall a successful competition for Westfield players. Let’s hope for even better performances next year and even more players competing in the event.
On top of this, another success for a Westfield player with Chris Doran moving up to his highest ever England senior ranking at number 3. Chris has only just turned 19 years old so this is an excellent achievement with only world number 90 Paul Drinkhall and Liam Picthford that remain above Chris. Chris will be hoping for selection for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in September. Tim Yarnall remains the second Westfield player to be ranked inside the top 10 in England Senior men’s list, ranked at number 9.