Under 13 boys finalists Matthew Daish and Artur Caltabiano
Under 13 boys finalists Matthew Daish and Artur Caltabiano

It was all about Waterside TTC players in the U13s boys final of the Hampshire Schools competition, which was played on Friday 1st February at Waterside Table Tennis Centre.

About 60 children from all over Hampshire met at Waterside for the 2013 Hampshire Schools Individual competition. Players were competing in the Under-11, Under-13 and Under-16, boys and girls, categories for a place in the National Schools Finals which will be played in Doncaster in April.

Several youngsters from Waterside TTC played in the competition, after qualifying from their school clusters. Matt Moody, James Fensome, Jamie Fields, Peter Daish, Jessica Cox and Abigail Rickards all played well and enjoyed the tournament. Former Waterside TTC players, Katie Holt (U11 girls) and Amy Blagbrough (U13 girls) won their categories and will now represent Hampshire in the Schools National Finals.

But in the U13 boys, with three top-20 players in the national ranking competing, drama and high level matches were on the cards. Waterside TTC was represented by Matthew Daish, last year’s County and National Schools Champion in the U11 category, currently ranked 10th in the U13 ETTA’s ranking, and Artur Caltabiano, last year’s Hampshire Schools Champion in the U13 category, currently ranked 19th in the U13 ETTA’s ranking. Both players did not have trouble during the group stage, advancing swiftly to the quarter-finals without dropping a single game. In that stage, they also did not encounter any problems and it was only a question to see who would meet Jonathan McMullan from Fareham, ranked 5th in the current ETTA’s U13 rankings, in the semis.

Artur was the one that had to deal with the speed and consistency of Jonathan. Artur had a strong start, wining the two opening games. Jonathan fought back and showed why he is one of the top players in the country. A thrilling fifth game went in favour of Artur, who booked an all-Waterside final against Matthew, who won his semi-final match against Sonny Brooks from Portsmouth.

In the final match, Matthew, also a member of New Milton TTC, was clearly the strongest player, winning 3-0, and deservedly will represent Hampshire in the Schools National Finals!