RISING star Aarif Li has qualified to represent Warwickshire at the 48th Butterfly Schools’ Individual Table Tennis Championships National Finals for the second time.
Aarif, aged 11, attends Tudor Grange Academy Solihull and will take on some of the best young players in the country at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton on Saturday, April 22 later this year.
The youngster earned his place at the event after battling through county qualifying stages in the under-13 category at Meon Vale Leisure Centre in Stratford and beat fellow Colebridge Table Tennis Club player Rex Ho 11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-6 in the final.
Aarif said: “This is my second National Schools Championships. I feel excited to meet and play with other good players in the next stage of the under-13 event. I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
The 12-year-old is currently rated number one in the under-12 boys’ rankings in England and trains regularly at Colebridge Table Tennis Club in Shirley.
He plays in the National Cadet League and National Junior League for Colebridge and represented the Warwickshire Cadet (under-15) team earlier in the season.
More than 350 players representing 50 counties will gather for the National Finals, which is the biggest one-day table tennis competition in the country.
Several stars of the sport, including Rio Olympians Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkall and Sam Walker and Commonwealth Games medallists Tin Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos, competed at this event during their school years.
Competitions are held at under-11, 13, 16 and 19 levels for both boys and girls. All primary and secondary schools are eligible to enter players in the county rounds in order to qualify for these national finals
Following these championships, the English Schools’ Table Tennis Committee will select representative teams to play in the Invitation International to be held in June 2023 with teams from England, Guernsey, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales all competing.