They say, 'It's not about how you start but how you finish.'
They say, 'It's not about how you start but how you finish', but on this occasion both Start and Finish were pivotal.
The Harefield Academy boys Under 19 squad included Mitchell Jones, Danny Lewis, Nicholas Li, Ben Naylor-Smith and Gaurav Aravind.
The team were united from the start of the season and had their goal set on becoming national champions.
They began their journey by over-powering the likes of Burlington Danes (7-1) at the West London qualification round. They went to the London Final where they ousted two other schools 7-1 and 8-0 but met their match with London Academy who tied the match at 4-4. Both London Academy and Harefield went through to the regional round and won, qualifying them to national finals.
In the finals, the top four teams in the country go head to head and play to the best of 5 whole matches.
In the first set of matches both Harefield and London Academy showed their strength by over powering the opposition 8-0 and 8-0. So it came down to the grudge match and final show down between two titans in their own right.
Mitchell Jones on paper should beat Karim (London Academy) and has done so many times before but today was different. Karim was in the zone and fought for every point. At 2-2 in games and 10-9 (match point down) Mitchell Jones found some magic and saved himself and the team from a possible tragic first game loss. The tension was very high as both teams knew that game could sway the overall match in favour of an overall match win.
Danny Lewis (England No.42) was up against a tough opponent current England No.7 Gabriel. Danny found holes and pathways which saw him take a 2-1 lead but Gabriel managed to find a way using his experience and power to eventually beat Danny 11-8 in the last (match score 1-1).
Next was Ben Naylor who has been on top form the last few days and it showed as he overwhelmed their No.4 player, Harefield 2 London Academy 1. Guarav the most improved player of the season faced an awkward opposition and struggled to handle the left handers angles losing a tight match 3-2, match score 2-2.
Mitchell currently ranked No.12 in England faced a nemesis whom he has lost to for the past 3 years. Mitchell found a gear which he tapped into and gave Gabriel a run for his money but at 2-1 down and two match points down it seemed as if Mitchell would be on the losing end once again!! Gabriel served for the match but Mitchell found a way to come back and take that game then go onto win the match.
It felt like the momentum had swayed our way but London Academy won the next match against Ben, tying the match score at 3-3. Danny produced some magic to take the next match 3-0 and give Harefield a 4-3 lead. If Gaurav lost the next match the tie would be settled with a count back system. Gaurav set his mind to making sure that did not happen and stormed to a 3-0 win, giving The Harefield Academy match and title with a 5-3 win.
The tension was huge, the atmosphere was buzzing and it was a wonderful way to end an immensely successful year for The Harefield Academy Table Tennis programme.
All the staff and students at THA would like to congratulate all the players especially Mitchell, Danny and Nic who leave us this year. Mitchell and Danny have been training with Eli Baraty for 7 years and this is a very special way to say thank you to Eli for all his commitment and support of the table tennis players at THA.