London Academy girls take the Junior British League Premiership title

The final rounds saw Sophie Barcsai, Maliha Baig, Nora Dohoczki and Sienna Jetha come through against serious opposition.

London Academy became the girls’ Premiership winners when the Junior British League titles were decided at Derby Arena over the weekend.

London Academy held off Wensum to win the girls’ elite division, despite losing their unbeaten record in the process.

The London squad led by just 2 points going into the final slate of matches. Saturday went well for them with their closest rivals, Wensum and Grantham College, fighting each other to a standstill in a 3-3 draw.

At this point London Academy only had to defeat Wensum in the penultimate round to virtually guarantee an overall victory. However, they finally lost their perfect record, coming off worse in a narrow 4-2 tussle which swung one way and the other. Sophie Barcsai put London in front with a five-game victory over Tianer Yu, but Wensum hit back to lead 3-1, including a five-game win for Mari Baldwin over Nora Dohoczki.

Barcsai gave London a chance of a draw by beating Saskia Key in four, but Baldwin’s victory over Sienna Jetha sealed it for Wensum.

Defending champions Wensum kept up the pressure with a final round victory over Draycott. That left London Academy needing a win over third placed Grantham to take the title.

The final match was a nerve jangling affair with 3 of the first 4 matches going to a deciding set. It was the London girls grit and determination which saw them through, with Sophie and Nora (twice) winning in the fifth set to put London Academy up by 3 games to 1.

Two more wins for Maliha and Sophie gave London Academy a 5-1 victory in the tie, and the Premiership title.

In the end it was London Academy’s ability to claw their way to victory when other teams might settle for a draw that made all the difference.

Sophie Barcsai was London’s leading light, finishing top of the league averages with 19 wins out of 20.

Full report at the Table tennis England website.