Table Tennis ace serves up two national titles
Singles and Doubles championships sealed for Leeds teenager
A table tennis star from Bramhope rallied his way back from a disappointing national finals defeat last year to clinch a double championship finish earlier this month in Sheffield.
14-year-old Shayan Siraj picked up both the National Singles and Doubles titles for his age group after an exhausting day’s play at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre on Saturday 6th June.
The Grammar School at Leeds pupil started his day in the individual competition, and after progressing from the group stage, made it through the next three rounds, which all went to five sets.
The final was especially tense, as Shayan came back from 0-2 and 8-10 down, determined not to end as runner-up for the second successive year at these championships.
Holding on through three very close games, with never more than four points separating the players, Shayan won his first ever national title and denied his opponent, the newly crowned under-13 champion, Ethan Walsh, a double victory.
“I’m so relieved,” Shayan said. “In my last three matches, I was so close to losing them all.
“I just kept fighting and going for my shots and tried not to think about losing. If you lose playing the right way, that’s still a good thing to come away with.”
Despite the victory, it was almost game over for Shayan in the semi-finals as he appeared to be slipping when approaching what would of have been his winning shot.
Thankfully for the local youngster, he managed to play the shot from a virtual sitting position, and despite falling managed to right himself and get the next ball back – to the evident shock of Dai, who failed to hit the table.
He added: “I just slipped. I thought I had missed but I saw the ball come back so I just put my bat there. I don’t think he was expecting it.”
Later in the afternoon, there was a sense of déjà vu in the doubles final, as Shayan and his partner James Smith from Kent went 0-2 down against Harry Dai and Ethan Walsh.
Once again, Shayan came back from the brink as he and James rescued the match to win the last three games by a convincing margin and make it Shayan’s second title in one day.
The promising teen had qualified for the national championships due to his UK ranking, and was seeded fourth for the competition.
He has been playing table tennis since the age of seven, and has represented England in a number of competitions, in singles and with his doubles partner James Smith.