STUDENTS are celebrating success after serving up a top table finish on a national stage.
Longfield Academy of Sport U13s table tennis team added a further accolade to its list of achievements after finishing second runners up in the finals of the English Schools’ Table Tennis Association (ESTTA) Butterfly School Team Championships.
The four-man squad of Tom Rayner, Callum McRae, Callum Finlay and Dylan Gunter, narrowly missed out on a second place finish by just two points.
Star player Tom, who is ranked 4 th in the country for his age group, maintaining a 100 per cent unbeaten record throughout the whole tournament with eighteen 3-0 wins.
The U13s boys’ team, who won the Tees Valley Championship in October 2016 and also finished in third place in the National Championships last year, were the only squad to represent the North East at the prestigious competition.
Longfield Academy PE teacher Trevor Tearney said: “Even though the boys played magnificently to finish in third place once again there was still a slight sense of disappointment within the team that they missed out on second place by such a small margin.
“That just goes to show their passion and commitment to the sport and the whole school is incredibly proud of them.”
The boys, all aged 13, had previously qualified through the North East Zone final, Billingham, and the Northern Zone Final, Grantham, to reach the finals where four schools, including two from London and one from Hull, played for national honours.
The first finals match, at the event in Hinkley, Leicestershire, saw the Longfield team take a 5-3 victory against Ernest Bevin School, Tooting, before a hard fought 4-4 draw with University College, Camden.
The final match with Saint Mary’s School, Hull, finished in a 5-3 defeat for Longfield and a count back on points saw the Darlington team narrowly pushed back into third place overall.
Star player Tom, who will represent Durham Schools in the Individual Under 13 National School finals at the end of the month in Wolverhampton, said: “All of the games were very close and it was a bit disappointing not to improve on last year’s third place, but it is still an incredible achievement to be in the top three teams in the country.
“There was a lot of pressure and we fought hard for every point, but hopefully we can come back even stronger next year.”
Head teacher Susan Johnson added: “Our table tennis team continues to go from strength to strength.
“To have four boys representing our academy, the only school from the North of England, on a national level in sport is an incredible achievement and one of which we are all immensely proud.”