Delight for young Stevenage star as he lifts national table tennis title

Stevenage's Pablo Ramirez-Rioja (second from right) is the new national schools U11 boys' table tennis champion.

Stevenage's Pablo Ramirez-Rioja (second from right) is the new national schools U11 boys' table tennis champion. - Credit: ALAN MAN

A young student from Stevenage has been crowned the national schools' table tennis champion.

Pablo Ramirez-Rioja, who goes to round Diamond Primary, claimed the U11 prize at the Butterfly Schools Individual Finals, hosted by Table Tennis England and held in Wolverhampton. 

The 10-year-old was seeded second and made his way through group and knockout stages to face top seed Aarif Li of Warwickshire in the final. 

It was a brilliant match as Ramirez-Rioja came from 2-1 down to win 11-6 10-12 9-11 11-5 11-9. 

The champion also had a tight match in the quarter-finals, defeating Lewis Wu 12-10 in the fifth game before beating third seed Callum Pace 3-1 in the semis. 

Ramirez-Rioja said: "It feels good. When the other person misses, a feeling of joy spreads over you and you’re glad and relieved. 

"At the start, I felt I definitely had the potential to win but I knew it would be difficult because there are many good players, especially Callum in the semis.

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"And the final was really tough."