KT4YS recipient Luke Savill was selected to represent ‘England – South East’ at the recent UK School Games in Manchester. The Kent Trust for Youth Sport asked Luke to compile a blog about his experience.
My journey of the 2014 Sainsbury’s UK School Games had commenced, all the table tennis players met at Cobham to join the coach that would take us to our destination in Manchester. After a long 7 hour drive, and a few stops on the way for food, we finally made it to the venue in Manchester. We had been allocated a one-hour practise session to get used to the hall and playing conditions. I felt confident and couldn’t wait to start the tournament in the morning!
After the training session, we went back to the hotel for food (which was very nice) and to sort out the arrangements for the morning. We were given our kit, 3 playing shirts, 2 shorts, a tracksuit and the Sainsbury’s Leisure Kit. Now it was time to get some sleep and prepare for the morning.
Today was the start of a hopefully great tournament for me and the rest of the South East team. First up, we played against Scotland which we managed to swiftly win 8-0. We repeated this in our next two matches against Ireland and the South West to top our opening group. The whole team was looking forward to the morning when the semi-finals would commence.
An 8am start, where the team were eager to start playing our semi-final against Wales. We won fairly comfortably 4-2, although as it was the first team to reach 4, tension was high at 2-2. We were all delighted to reach the final of the 2014 Sainsbury’s UK School Games where our opponents would be a strong Midlands team. This was not a great final for any of us, we immediately went into a 2-0 deficit and despite some hard fought matches our team had to settle for the silver medal. Now it was time to focus on the singles, which I hoped to achieve highly in.
I felt very confident about my game and was just happy to be competing. I enjoyed my first 2 group games which I won 3-0 and 3-1 against 2 strong opponents. I was getting used to the playing conditions a lot better now and felt more confident about my game. That was it for today’s play but tomorrow we would play one more group game and then straight into the last 16 and so on.
It was a big day for me today, I was up against someone who I had previously lost to in the team event, but this time was a totally different story. I was totally focused and had my tactics right. I was solid throughout the entire game which I was able to win 3-0. I was delighted with this result and felt confident going in to the next round, but I knew I would have to up my game to the next level as I was playing against the number 2 U18 player in the country Daniel Lawrence.
I had prepared mentally and physical for this game, I felt strong and very confident as I had beaten him before. Unfortunately I did lose the first set but I changed my tactics and the tides changed as I raced into a 2-1 lead. However, Danny Lawrence stepped up his game to level it at 2-2 and so the last set was going to decide the winner. I was confident and managed to win the final game, I had beaten the number 2 under 18 in England!!
I had reached the quarter final where I was to play against Zac Wilson from Ireland. I concentrated fully and this showed as I won the match comfortably 3-1. I was very happy to be in the semi-final where I would play against Tom Jarvis from The Midlands, my England teammate.
However, I struggled to get to grips with the fast play of Jarvis and he was able to beat me 3-0 to reach the final. Overall it had been a very successful tournament as I recorded a great win against Danny and won a bronze medal.
The closing ceremony took place in the Phones 4 U Arena with thousands of people there watching. It was a great ceremony and a wonderful experience to have been selected to play at the UK School Games. It was the end now and time for a hopefully fast journey home to Kent on the coach. Finally, after a long sleep on the coach we arrived back in Kent. Despite having a great time, I was glad to be home.
Read Luke Savill’s biography here
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