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UCS runners-up at National School Team Table Tennis Championships

UCS under-13 boys finished runners-up at the finals of the Butterfly National School Team Table Tennis Championships for the second consecutive year.

    UCS U13s finished second at the T. Austin Harrison Cup in Hinkley
    UCS U13s finished second at the T. Austin Harrison Cup in Hinkley

    The Hampstead school enjoyed a strong tournament before losing to St Mary’s from Hull in the final.

    There were a string of impressive performances through the competition in Leicester. In the opening match against Carlton Le Willows from Nottingham, Ben Barbarash went down 3-2 against the England no. 43. Toby Crawcour levelled the tie with a 3-0 victory. Zacob Zakaim played with confidence to put UCS ahead, winning his match 3-1. CLW won the next two games to lead 3-2 before Toby Crawcour was beaten by the England no. 16 to leave UCS needing to win the last two games to tie the match.

    Barbarash won his match 3-0 in comfortable fashion, meaning the winner of the next match would win. Max Conway, playing in his first national finals, showed great heart and produced his best match of the finals to secure a 3-2 triumph and thus giving victory to UCS 18-15 games on a countback.

    Featuring an all-Jewish squad, UCS’s next match was against Sacred Heart School. Both teams had registered victories against one another in recent months - the Southwalk school won in the Central London final, while UCS were victories in the Great London Zone final, so this was the decider.

    Barbarash lost his opening match 1-3 against the England no. 39. Crawcour then levelled the scores with a confident 3-1 victory. Oscar Gershfield, playing in this match, was beaten 1-3, before Zakaim levelled the scores with hard fought 3-2 win.

    Crawcour showed tremendous character to fight back from 1-2 down to beat the top-seeded player from Sacred Heart and with Barbarash also securing a 3-2 success, UCS lead 4-2.

    Zakaim lost another close match 2-3, meaning the winner of the next match would secure victory in what was proving a thrilling contest. Gershfield came to the fore, showing no sign of nerve and playing with great composure - in his first national final – to secure a 3-0 win and guide UCS into the final against defending champions, St. Mary’s College.

    The final started very well for UCS, with Barbarash beating the St. Mary’s no. 1, who is ranked 33 in the country 33, 3-1. Crawcour then followed this up by winning the second game 3-0.

    UCS always knew that St Mary’s had depth in their squad as the Hull school were playing in the finals for the fifth year in a row. Conway and Zakaim were defeated to leave the final evenly poised at 2-2.

    Crawcour helped UCS regain the upper hand, beating the England no. 33 with a confident 3-1 win, with leaving UCS needing at least one more victory to take it to a count back. However, it was St. Mary’s who finished the stronger and they came away triumphant following defeats for Barbarash (1-3), Zakaim (0-3) and Conway (0-3).

    Reflecting on the tournament, UCS player Toby Crawcour, ranked 23 in England commented: “To be one of the best teams in the country for two years in a row is a real honour.

    It was a real team performance, with every player winning at least one crucial match.

    The standard was extremely high this year, with any team capable of finishing in the top four.”

    BOYS UNDER 13 - THE T. AUSTIN HARRISON CUP RESULTS

    1. St. Mary's College, Kingston upon Hull (Humber)

    2. University College School, Camden (London Central)

    3. Carlton le Willows Academy, Nottingham (Nottinghamshire)

    4. Sacred Heart Catholic School, Southwalk (London Central)

    TEAM: Toby Cawcour, Ben Barbarash, Jacob Zakaim, Max Conway, Oskar Gersfield. Reserve: Tommy Lyons (Not pictured)

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