The biggest and the best. Yacoub, Adam and Zac take National Cadet League Gold.

The 2024 National Cadet League tournament at London Academy has been the biggest in the country. Thrity two teams representing eight clubs met on the final day to fight for medals across eight divisions.

With early pace setters Stanmore A having dropped a division on Week 3, the top spot was wide open going into the final day. London Academy’s A team of Yacoub Rahman-Walentynske, Adam Riadi and Zacharia Sarri faced a tough set of matches against rivals from Urban and a particularly strong Brighton squad.

The first of three rounds saw them pitted against a much improved Urban team. Urban had got the better of their match in Week 3 so the London Academy boys were out for some payback. Two wins each from Adam and Yacoub put them 4-1 up. However, Urban fought back hard to level at 4-4. With every game counting towards their final score, the last match proved to be vital as Yacoub stepped up to beat Grayson Xi in 3 sets.

Their next match saw them win 7-2 against divisional newcomers Moberly 1. This left them 3 points behind Brighton, who they would face in the final round. With everyone else out of picture this left London Academy A with a simple task, overhaul Brighton by beating them by at least 3 points.

The tie started better than they could have hoped. Yacoub won an incredible 5 set match against Brighton no.1, Angus Priestly-Toner. Then Adam comprehensively beat the dangerous left-hander, Finley Aitken to close to within 1 point.

Then the match came to it’s pivotal point. Zach, who had had a disappointing day up until then, faced off against Ziad El-Hassan an awkward and diffiuclt opponent. Despite losing the first set, Zac stormed back to take the next three set and level the tie.

Incredibly, this run continued with Yacoub carving out another 5 set win against Finley and Zac putting in his best performance of the day, incredibly beating the much more experienced Angus in straight sets.

Brighton were not going down without a fight though and won the next two leaving London Academy still needing one more win to take the title.

That win inevitably came from captain Yacoub, who made short work of Ziad, winning in 3 sets. This meant that he went through the day unbeaten winning 9 out of 9.

Despite a final match win for Angus over Adam, the damage had been done. Although the teams ended up on exactly the same points, the fact that London Academy had beaten Brighton in their head-to-head match meant that they were Division 1 Champions by the narrowest of margins.

Congratulations to Brighton’s players who took the Silver medals and who made the match such a memorable occasion.

In the 2nd Division, London Academy B faced a daunting task with Stanmore A and B both in the same division. In the end Stanmore A proved to be too strong, winning the division by a clear margin. Points were won and lost throughout the day but in the end London Academy B faced Stanmore B for the silver medals need only 4 wins from 9 to clinch second place.

The tie started badly for the home team, with Stanmore winning 4 of the first 5 matches. However, London Academy regrouped and in a superb turnaround Connor Godley won in 5 sets, as did Lewis Macsween. This meant that Stefan Pop could clinch the silver medals with a game to spare, and that is exactly what he did , beating Rahul Shah in 4 sets.

London Academy’s other medals came in Divisions 6 and 8. In Division 6 Alexia Ciobanica, Rafi Hanzel-Wacker & Alexia Ciobanica beat off a determined challenge from Moberly 5 to take the gold medals. In Division 8 the honours went to the team of Ethan O’Leary, Nicolas Andrei and newcomer Luca Turner.