A Year 13 Okehampton College student recently led her team to victory at Britain’s top table tennis competition held in Derby.

England’s number one junior girl table tennis player, Mari Baldwin, won all twenty of her matches in the competition, resulting in a 100% average for her team and landing them the trophy for the Girls Premier Division of the Junior British League (JBL).

Mari said: ’Our team had four of us in. We were called Wensum because the guy who coaches us is from there. We played five other teams in the Premier Division and we won them all which was quite good. I won all my matches as well so that was quite nice. I’m kind of glad that I lived up to the expectations of me.’

But the girls can not rest yet as they will need to be at peak performance for the senior national championships which will take place at the end of March.

This will be the first one since the lockdown in March 2020 at which Mari came second. She hopes to beat that score this time round.

She said: ’It’s going to be good. The last [senior national competition] happened just before lockdown and 2020 which was where I came second.

’It’s a bit scary but I’m looking forward to it. It should be good.’

Mari’s training has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns during which time Mari said the team discussed tactics over Zoom.

’We ended up talking a lot about it but that made us feel worse about the fact that we couldn’t actually play,’ she said.

Though Mari is a talented individual table tennis player, her real love is the team table tennis tournaments and the friendship she has with her teammates.

She said: ’I love the team aspect of it because JBL has specifically always been one of my favourites because it has that team aspect to it. That’s why I enjoy European Youths as well because the team aspect is very heavily emphasised.

’Half my time is spent on the team event. I enjoy the camaraderie, being with the team.’

Mari started playing table tennis in primary school when a coach came from the local club and started up an after-school club. She enjoyed it so much that she just kept playing and eventually joined a local table tennis club in Okehampton.

’And it just kind of went from there,’ Mari added.

Junior British League is just one competition in the British League which is the top club competition for Table Tennis England, the governing body for table tennis in England.

Players from across Britain can enter any of the competitions which include seniors’, juniors’, women’s and veterans’ tournaments.