Nottingham teenagers make a real racquet on route to the national finals
THIS group of talented school pupils are heading to Manchester tomorrow with one aim – to become national squash champions.
The team from Trinity School in Aspley have qualified for the boys under-19s national finals.
They have knocked out teams supposedly better than them en route to the event at the Sports City complex.
Their achievement is all the more remarkable as no comprehensive school in Notts has previously got this far.
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Seventeen-year-old Thomas Baines, who has played squash at county level, was among the heroes in the semi-final win over Kenilworth Sports College.
He said: "It was an amazing feeling getting through the last round and now we can't wait for the finals event.
"We feel so proud to be the first comprehensive school from Nottingham to get to this final. Hopefully we can do well.
"I've played squash for about eight years now and hope to carry on playing beyond school. Getting to finals like this can only do me good."
In spite of the age group they are competing in, most of the players are under 18, with one aged only 15 and one aged 13, meaning they have been playing against others who are older than them.
Thomas is joined in the team by Jack Lewandowski, 18, James O'Connor, 16, James Meyer, 15, and Fergus McKeever, 13. The reserve is Charlie Meyer, who is aged only 12.
As well as beating Kenilworth on the way to the finals, they have also triumphed over Lincoln Minster School, Brookfields School in Chesterfield, Trinity Sports College, in Solihull, and Hills Road Sports College, in Cambridge.
Teams they will be up against in tomorrow's finals include Millfield School from Somerset and Wycliffe College, in Gloucestershire.
Ahead of the event, the Trinity players were congratulated and wished the best of luck by Lord Mayor of Nottingham Councillor Leon Unczur at the Council House on Monday.
James O'Connor added: "I'm so excited about going to the finals in Manchester.
"I've been playing squash for as long as I can remember so to get to this stage in a big schools competition means so much. It will be a great experience for all of us.
"I just hope we can go and do well against the other teams. It won't be easy because there will be some good players who we will be up against.
"We have done amazingly well to get this far."
The team play their home games at The Park Squash Club and have received coaching through a long association with Nottingham Squash Rackets Club.
Trinity head teacher Michael McKeever said: "I am very proud of the boys. They have come through some tough matches home and away.
"I have been very impressed with the sporting manner in which all the games have been played.
"They have learned a lot and are looking forward to mixing with the squash elite in Manchester. "I am pleased for the school, the city and the club.
"We know what a big task faces us but one thing I can say. We will be giving our best in the North West."