DE FERRERS has topped all its previous records for table tennis domination by winning six out of six school county titles in a single season.
Players at the Horninglow secondary school set themselves the challenge of getting all six titles back in June.
The school had held all the titles individually, but never all at once.
Head coach Simon Price said: “To win any county title takes hard work and perseverance, but to come away with six titles out of six is truly a magnificent effort by all.
“This has come not only from the more established players, but by some who have been playing for less than six months.
“Maybe we’ll go for a full set of zonal titles too.”
After Price and his players had set their sights on six titles, intensive training followed.
With no girls teams entered in county competitions for three years, this was always going to be the hardest area - but no stones were left unturned as ex-England schools internationals Abbie Milwain and Matt Outhwaite were drafted in over the summer to help coach the under-13, alongside regular coaches Ed Freeman and Price.
With no previous experience, more than 20 girls got involved and when it came down to competition the two teams that were entered ended upcoming first and second.
The first team of Taylor Brown, Liz Snelling, Kate Arnold and Sophia Hines proved far too strong for their schoolmates, taking the title without dropping a game.
Unfortunately, there were no other entries in either of the other girls categories so the under-16s – Rebecca Kendrick, Cara Adams, Lydia Anguish and Rosie Jarvis – and the under-19s – Bekki Lycett, Milly Bowering, Holly Webster and Sophie Richardson – both won without lifting a bat in anger, but still that was half way to the target.
With the girls keeping up their side of the bargain, it was down to the boys to deliver and title number four was racked up by under-19s Ed Freeman, Joe Byrne, Jack Prescott and Andy Ward as their expected opponents failed to show.
That left just two titles, and the two that de Ferrers has held for the past four years.
This year’s under-13s were all representing the school for the first time. Mitchell Adams and Charlie Kendrick came in from last year’s county title winning John of Rolleston side, and were joined by Zach Beene and Kier Long, who have improved immensely since taking up the game when they arrived at the school 16 months ago.
The under-16 team missed out on the national finals on points countback last year, and with the team of Lewis Acton, Andy Heathcote, Liam Burt and Ed Watchman unchanged, the county finals took on added importance as the first step to hopefully a first national final.
Ryecroft Middle School, another up and coming East Staffordshire table tennis centre, provided the under-13s with their sternest test but were quickly despatched 8-0, leaving just the under-16s to complete the county whitewash, which they duly did, seeing off Walton High School in their final, matching the other’s winning scoreline of 8-0.