In September 2017, Harry Kitchens entered the next stage of his education and sporting journey by making the decision to enter the South East Essex Sixth Form College (SEEVIC), to study Sport and Exercise Science. There are also many talented sports participants at the college, both team players and individuals in many disciplines, and as you all know Harry’s specialty is squash. It’s probably fair to say too that SEEVIC historically has not had a great deal of exposure to squash up until this point.     

As it began to turn out though, Harry, who plays out of, and represents Clements Squash Club in the Senior Essex Leagues, has junior Essex County Closed and Open wins to his name, as well as back to back junior East Regional titles in 2016 and 2017, has been slowly slowly educating SEEVIC in his speciality. Harry also learned that each year, SEEVIC enter a representative squad of its sports participants into the Association of Colleges (AoC) championships – a really massive UK wide event.   

Harry was invited by his tutors to represent SEEVIC in the squash category at this year’s campaign and indeed at the Regional event up at Cambridge University, a one-day event last November.  As I previously alluded to, the college did not and have not historically had any real association with the discipline of squash, but to this end, Harry nervously joined the bus for onward travel to Cambridge on the day of the Regionals. In fact, I have since learned that despite his nerves, he was very much the centre of attention with the Netball Team during its onward journey to Cambridge….!!    

It has to be said, that in the beginning of the event not much attention was paid to Harry at the squash venue, but he went quietly about his business coolly and calmly, winning all of his matches – one very tight – to qualify for the AoC National Finals. A great achievement in itself..!!  

And so, the National Finals were held over the Friday / Saturday / Sunday 20th to 22nd April 2018, at Nottingham University. He was again very nervous on the Friday, he had to travel up to Nottingham and nearly didn’t go. But, the fact that I would not be with him to clean his goggles, and impart on him my infinite squash wisdom was the deciding factor in his decision I think–and so he was going..!!     

Harry again eventually traveled with the rest of the college squad to Nottingham, and this time his tutors had high hopes for what he might achieve for them and himself. His tournament commenced on the Friday, tricky after a long journey as we parents know only too well, and he was in a group format of eight participants from colleges all over the UK with him having to play two matches on that day. Harry won them both.   

His form continued throughout the Saturday and into the Sunday, until he found himself in the Gold Medal match on Sunday afternoon. I think I am right in saying that SEEVIC had never had an individual AoC champion and certainly never in squash. Would this be their time – would it be Harry’s?  

With the rest of his SEEVIC teammates and tutors now taking notice and voicing their support for him, he played impeccable, mature and controlled squash throughout the final, as he had done during the whole tournament, to win his Gold Medal match 2-0, and deliver SEEVIC that individual AoC National Championship win they had been waiting for.  

So there it is, Harry Kitchens, a National Champion – who would have thought it? Take a bow young man.