2005 National Schools' Championships

Mark Williams reports:

270 pairs from 26 schools entered the 2005 Championships, which were once again generously sponsored by HSBC.

As ever Shrewsbury offered excellent accommodation and catering, and the Masters in Charge and local Salopian fives personalities were royally entertained to Dinner. There were seven competitions in all, six played at Shrewsbury, and the Under 12 played at Eton a few days beforehand. Each competition involved a pools stage, with several plate competitions, guaranteeing all competitors plenty of fives.

OPEN COMPETITION

42 pairs from 11 schools entered this competition, and Highgate (3 pairs), St Olave�s (2 pairs), Shrewsbury, Eton and Mill Hill reached the quarter-finals. The first pairs of Shrewsbury, Eton and Highgate won easily, but Highgate 2 lost the first game to St Olave's before winning three close games. In the semi-finals, Shrewsbury easily defeated Highgate 2, but Eton pushed Highgate 1 hard in a close match with outstanding cutting.

In the final, Highgate benefited from having been stretched earlier in winning the first game, but Shrewsbury countered strongly with Cox dominating in the second. Each pair then won an easy game to level the match at 2-2 and it was anyone's match at 5-5 in the fifth. Highgate's consistency, impressive cutting, and ability to go for their shots at the key moments were eventually decisive, and Cox and Callaghan showed enormous stamina and skill for a lower sixth pair. Shrewsbury played very well and dominated the game for some of the time, but were eventually worn down by an outstanding Highgate pair, expertly coached by Peter Knowles, whose last tournament this was.

Semi-finals:

Shrewsbury 1 beat Highgate 2 12-2, 12-2, 12-0

Highgate 1 beat Eton 1 12-5, 12-9, 9-12, 12-9

Final:

Highgate (M.R.Little & A.A.O'Callaghan) beat Shrewsbury (T.W.P.Cox & B.J.Alderson) 12-6, 5-12, 12-3, 1-12, 12-7

UNDER 16 COMPETITION

49 pairs from 10 schools entered this competition, and Highgate (3 pairs), Eton (2 pairs), Shrewsbury, St Olave's and Mill Hill reached the quarter-finals. Shrewsbury and Highgate 1 won easily, but Highgate 2 were pushed hard by St Olave's, and Eton 1 dropped a game to Highgate 3 before recovering their equilibrium. In the semi-finals Shrewsbury easily defeated Highgate 2, whilst Highgate 1 reversed two previous defeats to overcome Eton 1 in three close games.

In the final, Worth and Parker completely overshadowed the Highgate pair with a bravura performance, volleying crisply and moving around the court at a different pace from their opponents. They won convincingly in three games to bring the Under 16 trophy to Shrewsbury for the first time, and they will surely be a pair to watch over the next two years.

Semi-finals:

Shrewsbury 1 beat Highgate 2 12-4, 12-6, 12-7

Highgate 1 beat Eton 1 12-9, 12-10, 12-6

Final:

Shrewsbury (A.T.Parker & R.J.St.J.Worth) beat Highgate (T.D.Greene & R.C.Desmond) 12-3, 12-3, 12-6

UNDER 14 COMPETITION

41 pairs from 6 schools entered this competition, and Eton (2 pairs), Highgate (2 pairs), Highgate Junior (2 pairs), Berkhamsted and St Olave's reached the quarter-finals. Eton 1 and St Olave's won in straight games, but Highgate Junior 1 dropped a set to Berkhamsted, and Highgate 1 conceded a two game lead to a spirited Eton 2, before winning the fifth. In the semei-finals both Eton 1 and Highgate 1 won easily.

In the final, the Eton pair started slowly, and Lindo in particular took advantage for Highgate. Stung into action, Eton responded with a blistering attack in the second and never looked back. Left-handed Morrison providing attacking play from the back court, whilst Nicholls cut and volleyed very effectively.

Semi-finals:

Eton 1 beat St Olave's 112-3, 12-3, 12-8

Highgate 1 beat Highgate Junior 1 12-9, 12-6, 12-9

Final:

Eton (E.G.J.Morrison & H.L.C.Nicholls) beat Highgate (J.A.Marks & N.J.Lindo) 12-14, 12-0, 12-6, 12-5

UNDER 12 COMPETITION

55 pairs from 9 schools entered this competition, which was held at Eton a few days before the main tournament to encourage a more varied entry, and this was certainly successful. Although inevitably dominated by Highgate Junior School, both Summer Fields and Sunningdale reached the semi-finals, where Highgate Junior 1 and 2 won easily.

In the final, Highgate Junior 1 demolished their second pair, and both Kovar and Most looked highly promising players for the future.

Semi-finals:

Highgate Junior 1 beat Summer Fields 1 12-0, 12-4

Highgate Junior 2 beat Sunningdale 1 12-2, 12-0

Final:

Highgate Junior School (M.J.Kovar & C.M.Most) beat Highgate Junior School (A.J.Pavitt & L.J.Hatchwell) 12-3, 12-1

LADIES COMPETITION

18 pairs from 7 schools entered this competition, and Lancing (2 pairs), Westminster (2 pairs), St Olave's (2 pairs), Berkhamsted and Westway reached the quarter-finals. Both Lancing pairs, St Olave's 1 and Westminster 1 were victorious in straight sets, and Lancing 1 beat their second pair comfortably, whilst St Olave's won a very close contest with Westminster in the semis.

In a best of five final, which see-sawed repeatedly Sophie Palmer and Juliet Browning won three games easily, but lost two narrowly which was a real test of their resolve. They eventually triumphed by superior volleying in an exhausting final, and achieved Lancing's first ever championship, which was richly deserved.

Semi-finals:

Lancing 1 beat Lancing 2 12-8, 12-2

St Olave's 1 beat Westminster 1 10-15, 15-12, 12-4

Final:

Lancing (Sophie Palmer & Juliet Browning) beat St Olave's (Laura Harvey & Anna Shelley) 9-12, 12-4, 12-4, 9-12, 12-4

UNDER 15 COMPETITION

39 pairs from 10 schools entered this competition, and Shrewsbury (2 pairs), Westminster (2 pairs), Harrow, Highgate, St Olave's and Q E Barnet reached the quarter-finals. The first pairs of Harrow, Westminster, Highgate and Shrewsbury reached the semi-finals in straight sets, where Harrow won easily, but Shrewsbury were pushed hard by Highgate.

In the final Denehy and Webb played the more aggressive game, but Shrewsbury fought hard, wining the second set worthily. Harrow's superior cutting and volleying were decisive in the third and fourth games, and they were worthy winners.

Semi-finals:

Harrow 1 beat Westminster 1 12-4, 12-4

Shrewsbury 1 beat Highgate 1 12-7, 12-10

Final:

Harrow (W.P.N.Denehy & A.H.Webb) beat Shrewsbury (M.C.Hothersall & P.E.J.Stewart) 12-4, 11-14, 12-6, 12-6

BEGINNERS' COMPETITION

26 pairs from 7 schools entered this competition, and Shrewsbury (4 pairs), Eton (2 pairs), Westminster and Aldenham reached the quarter-finals. Eton and Shrewsbury's first two pairs won their quarter-finals easily, as did the first pairs in the semi-finals.

In a well-matched final, both the first two games were very close and the match was 1-1, but Griffiths' left-handed flair made the difference, and he was well supported by Jayapani, with Eton fighting all the way.

Semi-finals:

Shrewsbury 1 beat Eton 2 12-3, 12-2

Eton 1 beat Shrewsbury 2 12-7, 12-3

Final:

Shrewsbury (J.Jayapani & R.F.Griffiths) beat Eton (J.M.MacDonagh & J.F.Eager) 12-9, 11-12, 12-6, 12-4

This year we said goodbye to Dr Peter Knowles who has had a profound influence over this championship for 30 years. As Master-in-Charge of Fives at Highgate, he coached Open Championship winners, before running the tournament very successfully and efficiently for 15 years. Since then he has coached the under 14 year group at Highgate, winning many trophies over the years. He has been an outstanding schoolmaster and coach, but more importantly a loyal, wise and very supportive friend of the game. He has been my first port of call in a storm ever since I began running these championships, and he richly deserved one final success in the Open Championship this year. He will be sorely missed by all.

Next year's championships will be at Eton.

Results Summary

OPEN COMPETITION

Highgate (M.R.Little & A.A.O'Callaghan) beat Shrewsbury (T.W.P.Cox & B.J.Alderson) 12-6, 5-12, 12-3, 1-12, 12-7

UNDER 16 COMPETITION

Shrewsbury (A.T.Parker & R.J.St.J.Worth) beat Highgate (T.D.Greene & R.C.Desmond) 12-3, 12-3, 12-6

UNDER 14 COMPETITION

Eton (E.G.J.Morrison & H.L.C.Nicholls) beat Highgate (J.A.Marks & N.J.Lindo) 12-14, 12-0, 12-6, 12-5

UNDER 12 COMPETITION

Highgate Junior School (M.J.Kovar & C.M.Most) beat Highgate Junior School (A.J.Pavitt & L.J.Hatchwell) 12-3, 12-1

LADIES COMPETITION

Lancing (Sophie Palmer & Juliet Browning) beat St Olave's (Laura Harvey & Anna Shelley) 9-12, 12-4, 12-4, 9-12, 12-4

UNDER 15 COMPETITION

Harrow (W.P.N.Denehy & A.H.Webb) beat Shrewsbury (M.C.Hothersall & P.E.J.Stewart) 12-4, 11-14, 12-6, 12-6

BEGINNERS' COMPETITION

Shrewsbury (J.Jayapani & R.F.Griffiths) beat Eton (J.M.MacDonagh & J.F.Eager) 12-9, 11-12, 12-6, 12-4