FOLLOWING THEIR SUCCESS in the East of England table tennis finals in January in which they finished runners-up ahead of other schools from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Suffolk, our girls’ tables tennis team set off on Friday afternoon for Blackburn, the location of the regional finals.
Accompanied by three members of staff, the wet and windy journey in the minibus took them up the M1 and the M6 into Lancashire. Traffic, roadworks and a rest stop near Birmingham meant that the journey was nearly five hours, but eventually they arrived at their overnight accommodation at The Fernhurst Lodge.
After a delicious dinner in the restaurant, and then a few games of UNO, it was time to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the competition the next day.
After what seemed like endless hairdrying in the morning, followed by another tasty breakfast in the restaurant, they made the short journey to the venue — a stone’s throw from Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
The other three teams in the Girls Under-11 competition were Harewood Primary School from Stockton-on-Tees, St Bede’s RC Junior School from Widnes and St Peter’s CE Primary Academy from Nottingham.
Our team’s first opponents were St Bede’s who were very intimidating. They had reached the National Finals in this competition last year and one of their team plays for England in the national U-11 team. It ended with a convincing win for St Bede’s with the match score 6-2.
The second match was against Harewood and the competition was much more even, with some closely contested matches going to the deciding fifth game. The contest was much closer than the final score suggests — a 7-1 victory for the St Matthew’s girls.
The third match was against St Peter’s, who also qualified for the National Finals in 2018 and had their boys team competing in the U-11 boys competition. By this time, our girls knew that they would not be able to win the competition and qualify for the National Finals, but they still played competitively and enjoyed their matches, but lost 7-1.
It was the second round match between the more experienced St Bede’s and St Peter’s that was the competition decider with the team from St Bede’s winning to qualify for the National Final in Hinckley on April 27th.
Congratulations to Asmaa, Aysha, Hana and Sienna for their achievements in table tennis this year, ending the competition as Luton Schools champions, Bedfordshire County champions and second best in the East of England zone placing them in the top sixteen schools nationally. Throughout the competition, not only have they played competitively and successfully, but they have been superb ambassadors for St Matthew’s in their fair play and good sporting behaviour.