TOP CLASS PERFORMANCE BUY GOSFORTH ACADEMY SQUASH TEAMS Gosforth Academy achieved a remarkable first recently by being the first school to ever qualify seven teams to the finals of the national schools squash competition.
All schools have to negociate regional qualifying before the challenging inter regionall knockout stages and then the best eight teams in each category from around the country travel to the national centre in Manchester for the final stages. The first events of the finals week are the Trophy ( plate ) competitions for teams beaten in the regional qualifying and Gosforth's U19 Girls and Boys B teams had both qualified and finished as winners and runners up respectively.
The second day of this school squash festival saw eight boys U15 and eight girls U15 battle it out for the national titles. Gosforth had qualified their boys A team and both their girls A and B teams. The girls A team squad of Megan Evans, Harriet Wight, Aanya Hamilton, Beth Tudor and Katie Merlane had comfortable wins against Wycombe High ( Bucks ) and Tring school ( Herts ) in the quarter and semi – final , before securing a 4 – 1 victory in the final over the highly fancied Hymers school from Yorkshire. The girls B team squad of Anna Moore, Naomi Appleby, Abigail Bedford ,Rebecca Grogan, Cerys James and Rebecca Ambrose performed creditably to finish sixth. The U15 boys squad of Andrew Shipley, Harry Little, Matthew Thompson, John Thompson, Dylan Gittins, Ewan Strathdee and Teo Missier also competed well , beating John Hampden Grammar school ( Bucks ) in the first round but then they came up against the eventual winners in Ackworth school ( Yorks ) in the semi . losing out 5 – 0. The boys redeemed themselves beating Highgate ( London ) in the 3rd / 4th playoff.
The final day of competition saw the best U19 boys and girls teams from around the country competing for the trophies. It was a day of high drama that began with both the Gosforth Academy Boys and Girls A teams having comfortable 5 – 0 wins in the first round against Richard Huish college ( Somerset ) and Wycombe High ( Bucks ) respectively. The semi finals were much closer affairs with the girls squad of Josie Barker, Erin Vitty , Megan Evans , Harriet Wight , Emma Delgaty , Aanya Hamilton and Beth Tudor, clinging on to a 3 – 2 win against local Newcastle rivals Dame Allans. Emma Delgaty was the hero of this win with a gutsy 3 – 2 win at number 5.
The boys squad of Michael Mattimore, Andrew Shipley, Tom Cornell , Liam Kahn , Harry Little , Thomas Moore and Cameron Hamilton, were also pushed to the wire in their semi against Aylesbury Grammar ( Bucks ) and they too managed to scrape a 3 – 2 win to take their place in the final. The boys were no match for Ackworth school's three England internationals and finished runners up in the boys final. The girls went into their final against Wycliffe college ( Glos ) as massive underdogs but then Gosforth won at 4 and 5 to offset Wycliffe college's wins at 1 and 2. It all came down to Megan Evans at number 3 , playing a girl ranked 30 places above her on the national rankings. Megan lost the first but then came back strongly to go 2 – 1 up and then she held 3 match balls at 10 – 7 in the fourth. The Wycliffe girl held her nerve and managed to win the next 5 rallies to take it into the fifth. Megan was behind all the way through the fifth until she had to face two match balls at 10 – 8 down. With ice cool nerve Megan won the next four points , finishing with a winner to the back of the court to take the match and win the title for Gosforth.
So Gosforth Academy won two titles , had a runner up and a third place finish in the main events to be the most successful school at the finals and this despite the fact that the Academy doesn't even have squash courts on site. Their success is testament to the way that they have set up a brilliant junior development programme with their local squash club , Northern.
Richard Vitty , head coach at Northern , said “ Gosforth Academy , the parents and the kids in particular have invested a massive amount of time and effort to set up what is a terrific model of school / club liaison. Everyone`s hard work has been rewarded by this tremendous achievement at the national schools championships “