Nottingham proved too strong for Leeds as they powered to a 12-5 win in the Mens Table Tennis.
It was clear from the off that the visitors were a class apart. However, Kim Daybell, Leeds’ best player and a member of Great Britain’s Paralympic squad, put the home side on a sure footing with an assured opening display.
Despite a fairly even start, Daybell slowly began to establish clear daylight between him and his opponent as his greater consistency on both the forehand and backhand told. The Nottingham player became more aggressive as the match wore on, but it was too little too late as Daybell wrapped up a 3-0 win.
Despite this victory, the other matches went very much in favour of the East Midlanders, with Steve McLoughlin only picking up a game and both Benjemin Hor and Alaa Mernari unable to get on the scoreboard.
The next round of games were played in a very similar vein, with Daybell excelling and the rest finding the going tough. McLoughlin gradually grew into the match as it wore on, and began to claw his way back into proceedings. However, his opponent arguably handled the pressure better and secured a 3-1 triumph. Har and Murnari battled manfully once more, but had nothing to show for their efforts.
At this point, it started to feel like a Nottingham victory was inevitable. Even so, Leeds refused to lie down, and Daybell continued his imperious form. His third opponent really pushed him, with the ball pinging back and forth at bewildering speed and both players having to work very hard just to keep each point alive.
Leeds’ star man was unruffled though and maintained his 100% record in the fixture. Both McLoughlin and Har struggled against positive opposition, while Mernari demonstrated plenty of guile as he pinched a game but ultimately lost out in a competitive encounter.
With the score at 9-5, it was impossible for the Gryphons to muster a comeback. Daybell once again shone, but the other three singles encounters ended in defeat. Nottingham, in a rush to get home, made a request to forfeit the traditional doubles match, which occurs at the end of BUCS fixtures. Leeds accepted this, meaning they gained an extra point.
Even though it was a disappointing outcome, it’s important to bear in mind that the Premier North division contains four of the best university teams in the country. The fact that Leeds are in such esteemed company is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire squad.
Image courtesy of Will Stanley