Crawley table tennis ace Kate Cheer came out on top against the best young players in England to seal the gold medal at the Cadet Masters.
The 14-year-old Ifield Community College student (pictured above with Table Tennis England board member Keith Thomas) was the No 2 seed for the event, which brings together the top 12 players in the national rankings to play against each other on a round-robin basis over the best of five sets.
And she lost only one match – against sixth seed Isabelle Joubeily – before beating top seed Denise Payet in the final match to secure the gold.
Payet was unbeaten up to that point, meaning both girls finished with 10 victories, Cheer taking the title by virtue of their head-to-head record.
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But she still had a nervous wait after beating Payet, as Joubeily would have taken the title had she won her final match.
In the event, Joubeily lost to No 5 seed Charlotte Bardsley in a five-set thriller, ensuring it was Cheer who could celebrate. Bardsley took the bronze and Payet the silver.
Cheer said: “I knew going into the last match I could still win it, but I had to rely on Isabelle losing. Even when I won against Denise, I didn’t know whether I had won the title.
“It was a bit annoying because I train with Isabelle and play with her. I wanted her to win her match but I knew she had to lose so I could win the title.”
The event was the last Masters tournament – it becomes a European-style Top 10 next year – and Cheer added: “It’s brilliant to be the last Masters champion.”
In the boys’ event, Horsham’s George Hazell, 15, was seeded ninth and won two matches over the weekend to finish 10th.
He said: “I don’t think I played brilliantly, I could have done better, but at least I got some wins. I think I’ve got to play my game a bit more and be a bit more aggressive in future.”