UCS are national table tennis champions

It was a sporting weekend to remember as UCS fielded two teams in Table Tennis England’s Butterfly Schools Team Championships – and came away with a gold medal.

UCS are regular participants in the annual school team finals in Wolverhampton, and this time it was the Under-13 side that took the plaudits by winning the English schools table tennis title. To lift the T Austin Harrison Cup awarded for their age category, the UCS squad – Shai Chesterman, Zhengxuan Xi, Ruben Michaud, Avi Schliesser and Krischan Rajendra – won three successive group matches, including a roller-coaster victory in their third and final game against Dorothy Stringer School from Brighton.

After resounding 7-1 and 8-0 successes in their opening fixtures against St Mary’s College (Hull) and Carlton le Willows Academy (Nottingham), UCS claimed glory the hard way. The team trailed opponents Dorothy Stringer 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in the decider, before levelling the match through Zhengxuan Xi and edging ahead thanks to Ruben Michaud. It then fell to Avi Schliesser to overcome two deficits of his own in a five-set classic he eventually won to make the final score 5-3 to UCS.

“It went to the fifth set in the last match for us to win it,” said Shai Chesterman. “Everyone was cheering and it was a great atmosphere.” John Enemuwe, the UCS master in charge of table tennis, added: “The U13 boys definitely saved the best till last!”

Mr Enemuwe and UCS table tennis coach Zoli Koszo also watched on as the U19 team narrowly missed out on third place and a bronze medal, losing 5-3 in the tightest of contests against Wallington Grammar from Sutton. Both schools had found the going tough in a group dominated by eventual champions Grantham College and local rivals King’s School Grantham. If that was a setback for a UCS side pursuing back-to-back third-place finishes in the U19 national finals, the squad could still reflect on a superb campaign.

UCS Director of Sport, Ed Sawtell, said: “We are so proud of our table tennis teams. Reaching the national finals is impressive, and winning them is outstanding. This is a great reflection of the pupils’ hard work, effort and attitude. It was also pleasing to hear how our U19 team positively supported our U13s in their final match – that extra bit of experience really helped us get the final win. I would like to thank our staff, Mr Enemuwe and Mr Koszo, for their commitment to getting the teams to this final.”

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