The Jersey Academy, sponsored by the ONE FOUNDATION for the third season, played in the first of two legs of the Junior British League table tennis competition last weekend at the Derby Arena, the ‘Wembley of Table Tennis’. In their first year the team had qualified and were then promoted from Division 4 to Division 3 and at the end of the second season were promoted again to Division 2. Playing in their highest division so far and with a young team in what is an U18 competition, the Jersey Academy had their work cut out. The players were inspirationally led by 15 year old skipper Luc Miller, CI U21 open and U15 boys champion who made his Island Games debut for Jersey in Gotland in the summer and David Quinn (14) a seasoned campaigner from the previous 2 JBL seasons. Alfie Sutherland (13) had only competed once before in the JBL and rookie Leon Pierre (12), CI U13 boys champion completed the team.
On the Saturday Miller led by example batting away all his opponents in the team’s 3 matches (winning all his 6 individual matches) against XLNT Draycott, Cardiff CCTC, and Ormsby but it was not enough to stop the Jersey Academy succumbing 2-4 to each team. Quinn had a couple of close encounters, losing 2-3 and 1-3 to Ormsby players and Pierre and Sutherland both bagged some games but they found the going tough in Division 2.
On the Sunday Miller, now suffering from tonsillitis, heroically played on, but agonisingly lost out in three of his matches 2-3 (9-11 in the fifth). Pierre found his fluent form, playing his best table tennis of the weekend and he took the only scalp for the Jersey Academy against Colebridge winning 3-0 but Jersey Academy lost the match 1-5. This strong performance earned him a place in the team for the final match against Ashford but again the team went down 1-5, with Miller notching the only victory. Sutherland also produced some great table tennis in the last match as his confidence grew over the weekend.
JTTA Coach Martin Tupper said, “It was a fantastic weekend of table tennis. The standard in Division 2 is much more challenging and it was a baptism of fire so the players have been left in no doubt about the training they will need to put in before the second leg in January”.
JTTA President, Eileen Lucas said, “There were great performances all round from our young team and we’re very grateful for the sponsorship of the One Foundation to enable the boys to compete at this level and inspire our other juniors.”