A terrific first day of competition at the 2011 UK School Games saw the Boys England South East team lay down the gauntlet with a fantastic display of utter-dominance table tennis.
The team of Igor Morais, Lewis Gray, Helshan Weerasinghe and Jared Patel won all their three group games an astonishing 7-0 to cruise into the semi-finals as the stand-out favourites for the team competition.
Joining them from boys group J are England North East who, despite their defeat to South East, beat both Northern Ireland and Wales to take up a semi-final place. The team of Michael Fraser, Daryl Gee, Paul Smith and Eric Wan will hope for better against group K winners England South West.
The South West boys won their three matches 4-3, 6-1 and 4-3 with Dominic Sussex’s last-match win against England Midland’s Michael Siket ensuring the boys reached the last four. Dominic’s team-mates George Downing, Jarred Knowles and Liam McTiernan showed their relief on the sidelines to progress.
The final boy’s semi-finalists are Scotland, who face the daunting task of playing the South East team in the knock-out round. Scott Barton, Colin Dalgleish, Blair Fowler and Chris Wheeler will hope to pull off a shock to make the final tomorrow.
In the girl’s competition the Welsh girls, mentored by Ryan Jenkins, also justified their favourite tags with three wins out of three to progress. Charlotte Carey, Nicole Hall, Angharad Phillips and Megan Phillips won their matches 5-2, 7-0 and 7-0.
They were joined from their group by England South West, who recovered from their 5-2 defeat to Wales, by beating Northern Ireland 6-1 and England North West 5-2. The South West girls are led by Tressa Armitage with Megan Knowles, Vicky Smith and Rachel Trevorrow providing great support.
Facing the dangerous Welsh side in the semi-finals will be Evangeline Collier, Tin Tin Ho, Yolanda King and Emma Torkington from the England South East team who were runners-up to England Midlands in group S.
The Midlands side are led by the girl’s individuals favourite Emily Bates and she is supported by Isobel Ashley, Jessica Birbeck and Abbie Milwain.
In the Wheelchair disability groups the semi-finals see group W winner Jack Hunter-Spivy face group X runner-up Cellan Hall, while Joe Land will face Nicko Anderson.
In the Standing disability groups, Sam Bell and Conor Gordon progress from group Y while Lee Wilkinson and Kevin McCormack will join them in the last four.
The Learnin Disability competition is also shaping up well with Jordon Abbott, Daniel Williams and Peter Millar all having won their opening two games to set up an interesting finish to the event on Sunday.
You can catch all the action through our Twitter updates tomorrow and see the full results on the UK School Games website.
By Russell Moore