Award for talented Ipswich schoolboys who overcame the odds to win tennis contest

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School.
From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Ol

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School. From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Oliver Okeh and Rylee Hoang. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

An “exceptional” squad of young Ipswich tennis players who were crowned county champions despite having no court to practise on have been hailed for their innovative efforts.

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School.
From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Ol

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School. From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Oliver Okeh and Rylee Hoang. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The boys from St Pancras Catholic Primary School received a special achievement award from the Suffolk Schools’ Tennis Association this week after overcoming the odds to win the organisation’s mini Orange competition last summer.

Physical education teacher at St Pancras, Sarah Rafferty, said this was an “amazing achievement” as the school had no proper tennis facilities for the boys to practise so they had to make do with marking out a court on the Astroturf using netball posts, tape for a net and throw down lines.

The team, made up of Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Oliver Okeh and Rylee Hoang, were pitted against experienced players from both independent and state schools.

Mrs Rafferty said: “They are just exceptional sportsmen. A lot of them had to borrow rackets, so they did really well.

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School.
From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Ol

The boys tennis squad at St Pancras Catholic Primary School. From left, Ben Thomas, Roan Tucker, Oliver Okeh and Rylee Hoang. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“I think it’s an amazing achievement bearing in mind we have lots of other schools that have a huge number of courts and we don’t even have one.

“I entered them because they are able sportsmen and I think it’s nice to give children lots of different opportunities in school.”

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Mrs Rafferty said the boys were “delighted” and “absolutely over the moon” to win the special achievement award.

Jo Hazlewood, secretary and treasurer of Suffolk Schools’ Tennis Association, said the committee agreed the St Pancras team were deserving recipients of the trophy.

She added: “Schools entering the mini tennis competitions are divided into leagues and the winners of each league qualify for the finals held in June.

“It was therefore quite special that St Pancras’ mini Orange boys team, none of whom were regular tennis players and had no tennis court to practise on, won their league against schools with tennis facilities in their schools and who regularly compete in Suffolk Schools’ Tennis Association competitions.

“On finals day, they went on to win both their semi final and their final – against strong teams who have a good tradition of schools’ tennis.

“We hope this will encourage more schools in a similar position to St Pancras to enter and have a go.”