Ackworth top of the class at schools championships

Ackworth School's successful squash players.
Ackworth School's successful squash players.

ACKWORTH School won five national titles in a week.

The school is now the All-England under 15 boys and under 19 boys squash champions, and under 15 girls squash trophy champions.

In table tennis, Ackworth won both the under 16 boys and under 16 girls national championships.

Ackworth School head Anton Maree said: “These are remarkable achievements for a small boarding and day school and speaks volumes for the dedication of our students and staff.

“In the squash tournament, our under 15 boys team, having won their competition, then competed in the under 19 section and won it. One of our team is aged 11.

“I must acknowledge the support of Pontefract Squash Club in preparing our students for the tournament.

“Our table tennis success can be put down to the 18 hours per week of training the students receive from Matjaz Sercer, one of the top coaches in Europe.

“We are working hard to further develop table tennis in the area by providing free equipment and coaching to 12 of our local primary schools. We hope to continue to produce more champions.”

The school’s outstanding young squash teams totally dominated the National Schools Team Championships at Manchester Sports City.

The famous Millfield School and Wycliffe College have been most successful schools in recent times but despite the fact that no Ackworth player is yet 16, they retained the under 15 boys title and added the under 19 boys championship as well.

The under 15s beat Langley Park 5-0, then won 3-2 in a tight semi-final against Gosforth Academy before going on to beat Wycliffe 4-1 in the final.

In what was probably the under 19 final, but the quarter final of that tournament in name, Ackworth beat Wycliffe again 4-1 but the score hides the fact that both Harry Anderson and Millen Randell were 2-1 down before fighting back to win 3-2.

Anderson defeated an opponent who he had never beaten before.

Sam Todd then beat the England under 17 champion and England number one Jaryd Carter 3-1 to settle matters in style.

In the semi-finals, Ackworth beat Harrow School 5-0 before trouncing Gosforth Academy, also 5-0, in the final.

Nor was Ackworth ‘s success confined to the boys championships.

Ackworth under 15 girls team, which had only recently secured the services of Layla Johnson, won the trophy competition, beating Millfield 5-0 and then Dame Allen’s School 3-2 in the final.

The under 19 team, which included two 12 year olds, finished third. Their turn will soon come.

The boys teams were as follows:

Under 19 - Todd, Ben Sockett, Harry Anderson, Millen Randell, Jordan Stewart and Ben Beachill. Under 15 - Todd, Sockett, Stewart, Beachill and Akash Singh.

The girls teams were: Under 15 - Amber Copley, Asia Harris, Layla Johnson, Mollie Patterson, Jaspreet Singh. Under 19 - Copley, Harris, Johnson, Grace and Polly Clark.

The school’s under 16 boys and girls table tennis squads both claimed their respective titles at the Butterfly English Schools Table Tennis Association national team finals at Hinckley Leisure Centre, Leicestershire, on Saturday.

As the home of the Table Tennis England Talent Academy, both Ackworth teams were favourites, and they made no mistakes with three wins out of three.

The boys quartet of Shayan Siraj, Jamie Liu, Sam Chesterman and Reece Chamdal swept all before them, dropping only three sets all day as they beat Budworth College (Weymouth), Range High School (Formby) and Ernest Bevin College (Tooting Bec), all 8-0.

The girls line-up of England trio Mollie Patterson, Jasmin Wong and Ruby Chan, ably backed up by Harriet Greenwood and Emily Greenwood, beat Okehampton Community College and Lancaster Girls’ Grammar 6-2 and Burlington Danes Academy (Hammersmith) 8-0.

Mollie Patterson said: “We’re very happy to win the title, it’s important to us and the school.

“We understand that we have three players of very good standard but we need four in the team and we couldn’t have done it without Emily and Harriet.”

Shayan Siraj said: “We performed well.

“Our expectations were quite high and we dealt with the pressure well.”