The first weekend of September saw Bertie compete at the Bribar Plymouth junior table tennis tournament. It was a most successful event in which Bertie won all three of the categories he entered: U13 team, U13 individual and U15 individual. As he switched schools shortly afterwards, his sporting activities were scaled back for a while, but he continued to attend a variety of tournaments and played for several teams.
During this time, he was crowned the Somerset Schools U13 individual champion, helped his school U16 team win the county team championships and played for the Somerset county U18 team in the national county championships. He was also recruited to play for both the Stroud A Cadet (U15) and the Stroud A Junior team (U18) in the National Cadet League and the National Junior League in Wood Green. This is an event where the top teams gather in Birmingham over four weekends to battle it out for the title.
Last weekend was the final round of the competition for both categories and I’m pleased to report that Bertie’s teams won gold in both events despite intense competition from other teams. Not only did Bertie, as the youngest player in both teams, play a pivotal role in this success, he also finished in the top three of all the players in both events. This is even more remarkable when you remember Bertie is still only 11 years old and will be competing as a U15 for three more seasons and as a U18 until 2023.
Following these successes, Bertie will be heading off to the final round of the County Championships with the Somerset U18 team and then on to the Inter regional qualifications to compete for a place in the South West team. He will then head up to the Sir Tom Finney Sports Academy in Preston for the National Cup. This is the most prestigious competition in the junior Table Tennis calendar. 10 players from around the country get to compete, by invitation only, in an all play all tournament over two days in an international competition format designed to not only test themselves against their peers but to give them experience of what it’s like to play on the international stage. After such a schedule he will be glad of a break over Easter because after that the competition schedule only accelerates in the run up to the National Championships in June!!