Arden Academy from Solihull and Royal Berkshire’s Reading School left spectators in no doubt of their quality on a badminton court today with both putting up a successful defence of their KS3 National School Championship titles.
And Reading School, who saw three brothers – Alex, Toby and Merlin Dillingham - crowned champions this weekend, wrote their own slice of history by becoming the first school in the last 15 years of the Championships to win both the KS3 and KS4 boys crowns on the same finals weekend.
It was a feat that even the school’s head coach Steve Pedlow did not anticipate but one that they are well worthy of following big wins over established finalists – and one which also drew similarities across both days of competition.
In fact, Reading School defeated Tapton School 3-2 to win the KS4 yesterday and repeated the same trick with the same scoreline in today’s upper age group, forcing Tapton to settle for silver again whilst Manchester Grammar School took bronze.
Captain Alex Dillingham said: “It feels good to win and I hope we can win it again next year at KS4. The win really promotes badminton in our school and it’s another trophy to enjoy.”
For Arden Academy retaining the trophy was the ambition coming into the weekend and it was one they would fulfil in style. Last year’s title was won after a nail biting final match against Westgate School.
And whilst their rivals went on to win the KS4 title on Saturday, the Solihull stars made it a super Sunday with a 3-2 win over Chelmsford County High School for Girls and a 4-1 victory against Queen Elizabeths Academy Trust in the battle for podium finishes.
Chelmsford, who finished third last season behind Arden, proved the only way is Essex by taking 2016/17 silver whilst Queen Elizabeth’s took home a well deserved bronze.
The finals weekend of the National Schools Championships, in partnership with Babolat, were played out on the courts used by Olympians and the England squad – something that adds to the experience for pupils, some of whom are taking their first steps into competitive badminton.
Reading captain, Dillingham added: “It’s really cool knowing we’re playing on the same court that the England stars play on every day”.
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