Soraya wins an international Golden Double

Winning Individual and Team Gold at last weekend’s Senior Schools International has capped an extraordinary year for Soraya Rahmani Walentynska.

In the space of 12 months, Soraya has gone from being a player on the fringe of the National top-20 to being an International Schools Champion. 

Taking part in the weekends’ Senior Schools International in the Isle of Man, the London Academy U13 No.1 swapped her trademark red and black to don the black and white of England. The weekend would see her come face to face with the best players from across the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Having worked her way through such a high quality field in the U14 Girls competition, Soraya took the Gold medal by beating current England No. 1, Alyssa Nguyen in the final.

She also teamed up with Alyssa in England B to win the U14 Girls Team Gold, beating her friend and team-mate Gianna Pang who was playing alongside the experienced Brook Morris in England A.

This has been just another high point in a year full of success for Soraya.

Twelve months ago she had just broken into the Under 13 Girls National top 20. Impressive as this had been, very few could have foreseen the success to come.

Going into 2023-24, Soraya was already a schools champion, having won the Under 11 Girls team title.

This season has seen her move up through the rankings to enter the top 5. The first major success of the year was when she joined her team mates, Assil and Gianna to win division 4 of the Junior British League. This was followed by a second National Schools Team title, this time in the U13 Girls competition.

Soraya was also beginning to make a mark in singles as well. In April she beat the UK No. 2 Hannah Saunders, on her way to winning a Bronze medal at the National Schools Individual finals.

A month later, she traveled to Poland alongside 8 other London Academy students to make her international debut at the WTT Youth Contender Wladyslawowo. Despite it being her first tournament away from the UK, Soraya worked her way through a high-quality field to reach the Semi-finals, where she lost out to the eventual winner. 

Next up was the Mark Bates Nationals, where she took a step further by getting to the final. She lost out to UK No. 3, Violet-Lily Marquis, but there was more to come.

Later that day she teamed up with her sister Serene to become the U13 Girls Doubles National Champions, beating their team-mate Assil Sarri in the final. Their run to the title included a stunning win over two top 4 players, Hannah Saunders and Amber Louise Lemmon.

All of this success lead to Soraya being picked to represent England Schools at the Senior Schools International, and the rest is history.