EFA Awards 2017: Vote Now!
As is now traditional, the EFA Dinner on May 12th will see the presentation of the EFA Awards for the following categories: Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and Special Contribution to Fives.
Simply read on to see the list of nominees in each category and then email Gareth Hoskins directly or by CLICKING HERE with your choice of the winner in each category. Each registered website user, member of the EFA or member of the EFA Facebook group is allowed one vote per category and the winners will be announced at the EFA Dinner. Entries are now open and will close on Saturday May 6th.
Player of the Year
Another Kinnaird win, another London title, another Barber Cup, another Turnbull...just another year's work for Seb, who has even managed to drag perennial Division 1 strugglers North Oxford up into the top half of the table in the league. His extraordinarily high standards show no sign of slipping just yet!
Tom continues to set amazing records at the top of the game and now has 13 wins in the Kinnaird Cup - the all time record. When you add to that another London Tournament victory and a staggering 16 first pair wins out of 16 to lead the Old Harrovians to their first Division 1 win since 2009, it's clearly been another fantastic season for Tom, who is looking to win his third player of the year award in a row.
Jamie is not often seen on the circuit outside of the league these days, but he is still a very fine player indeed. He made a huge contribution towards the Old Harrovians winning Division 1 this season with a remarkable 100% record of 10 wins out of 10, playing in different pairs and with a variety of partners.
Karen has been right at the top of her game this year, winning the Ladies title for a fifth successive year with Charlotta Cooley in the face of probably the most competitive field yet assembled in the competition. She has also recorded a first ever win in Division 1 of the league and been a crucial player in the North Oxford sides competing at the top end of Divisions 2 and 3.
The Old Cholmeleians have been undergoing something of a renaissance in the last couple of years and the man at the forefront of that, both on and off court, is Jonny Ho. Jonny has led the Cholms into the top half of Division 1 this year with a series of fine performances and capped his season off by reaching a first ever Kinnaird Cup semi-final alongside Ed Taylor.
Ashley has been probably the most improved player on the circuit this year, becoming a stalwart of the Highgate Thursday night practices and of the Old Citizens team in Division 2 and Lancing in Division 3. Along with Emily Scoones, she put in an impressive performance to reach the semi-finals of the Festival at the Northern Tournament and then followed that with a run to the final of the Ladies Championships, defeating the second seeds in the semi-final and pushing the defending champions all the way in the final.
James has had another hugely consistent and impressive season, leading the Old Olavians to yet another Alan Barber Cup win, making a 17th Kinnaird final in 18 years - a final in which he played as well as he has for many years in the eyes of many observers - and also added another Northern Tournament win to his CV in partnership with Howard Wiseman.
Young Player of the Year
Now in her final year at school, Phoebe finished her Highgate career in style, with wins in both the U21 and U25 competitions to set alongside yet another team win in the Richard Black Cup, a semi-final appearance in the senior ladies nationals and the runners-up slot at the Schools' championships, despite the absence of usual partner Amira Reimer.
Tom has had another excellent season, winning the U25 tournament with Riki Houlden back in September, leading St.Olave's to a first win in the Williams Cup since 1999 as well as in their successful league Division 2 campaign and then capping it off by winning the National Schools' final alongside Kosi Nwuba.
Last year's winner has continued to kick on this year, starting the season off with a win in the U25 tournament and then going on to reach the semi-finals of the Midlands, London, Northern and Kinnaird, the last three with fellow Westminster Laurie Brock. Riki also starred for Cambridge University, reaching the finals of the Universities and Universities Mixed tournaments.
A schools' champion in 2015, Tom has made an impresive transition into the senior ranks this year as Secretary of Oxford University EFC. He won the Universities title with James Piggot for Oxford back in October and then added the U21 title with Will Ponsonby in February, before playing a key part in Oxford's Varsity Match whitewash and run to the final of the EFA Trophy.
Nina Lange & Sophia Breese
Shrewsbury have been the coming force in girls Fives for a while, and this year they delivered as Nina Lange and Sophia Breese produced a tremendous performance to overturn the seedings and defeat Highgate in the final of the National Schools' Championships, which may prove to be one of those watershed "changing of the guard" moments as the Shrewsbury girls continue to improve.
In amongst Berkhamsted's star-studded league team - champions last year and runners-up with 42 points out of 48 this year - it is easy to overlook the contribution made by school number one Charlie Nicholls, who has impressed everyone who has seen him or come up against him during the course of the league season. He also made the final of the Turnbull Trophy this year and put in a strong performance in the Kinnaird Cup along with a former winner of this award, Andrew Joyce.
The quiet man of the St.Olave's School first pair, Kosi has matured into a very impressive player in the last couple of years and rounded off his school career by leading the way to the double of a Williams Cup win and a first title for St.Olave's in the Open at the National Schools' Championships since 1999.
Another of this year's impressive crop of schoolboy players, Rahul has been a key part of the Old Harrovian team that have won the league this season and has produced a series of mature performances. He also led the Harrow team to the runner-up slot in the Williams Cup, made the semi-finals of the National Schools' Championships and partnered coach Ian Hutchinson in an excellent run to the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup, including a win over the 4th seeds on the way.
Team of the Year
Berkhamsted School have been investing heavily in new courts and coaching resource in recent seasons and the results are now beginning to follow. This year saw the Berkhamsted squad have their most successful Schools' Championships for many years, with winners in the U11s, Girls U13s and Girls U15s tournaments as well as finalists in the U12s and U13s.
This has been another fine year for the Oxford team, who for the first time ever have had a team in each division of the league with all three looking likely to finish in the top three. The club also reached the final of the Richard Black Cup, the semi-finals of the EFA Trophy and by the end of the season will have played over 50 fixtures at venues all over the country.
The Old Cholmeleians have been on the way back for the last couple of years and this year has seen the club make further strides, finishing in the top half of Division 1 without conceding a penalty point and bringing more and more ex-Highgate players back into the game via their Thursday night practices.
This has been a memorable season for the Old Harrovians, who have been involved in a thrilling Division 1 title race with defending champions Berkhamsted for most of the year. The two teams have both finished a remarkable 20+ points ahead of their nearest challengers but in the end it was the Harrow side - heavily influenced by the Dunbars with Tom leading the way on court and Graham managing shrewdly off court - who claimed top spot to win their first league title for 8 years.
This year's Oxford team have been a vintage crop with a group of mainly Old Etonians proving a force to be reckoned with. OUEFC did a men's and women's double at the Universities tournament in October and both first teams won their respective Varsity matches, with the men's team winning all six pairs across the first and second teams. They also reached a second successive EFA Trophy final and provided both men's finalists (and women's semi-finalists) in the U21 tournament.
2016/17 saw St.Olave's School revive memories of their glory years in the late 90s as they dominated the senior school competitions. Wins in the Richard Barber Cup and Turnbull Trophy alongside the old boys were followed by a series of strong performances in Divisions 2 and 3 of the league, both of which they are leading at the time of going to press. The big prizes were then won in March, with a win in the Williams Cup, a win in the U13s and finalists in the U14s and U16s at the Schools' Nationals and the rare distinction of providing both pairs in the final of the Open, where Tom Gallagher & Kosi Nwuba narrowly defeated Morgan Pugh & Kieran Walton.
Coach of the Year
Already the architect of many a Shrewsbury victory at national level in his previous incarnation as M-i-C, Andy Barnard has continued to prove his impeccable coaching credentials since taking over as head of girls Fives at Shrewsbury. His squad of players have been improving year on year and this year really began to produce the results to match, with Nina Lange & Sophia Breese winning the National Schools' girls open final against Highgate and Izzy Wong & Adelaide Sillar reaching the final of the U15s.
Already a legend in the world of Fives coaching, Graham Dunbar has had tremendous success this year with the Old Harrovians. Much of the coaching at Harrow School has now been handed over to Ian Hutchinson, but Graham has had the satisfaction this season of seeing an OH side - almost entirely consisting of players brought through by him - take Division 1 by storm, pipping Berkhamsted to the top spot with a remarkable tally of 43 points from a possible 48.
Mark Halstead is one of the unsung heroes of the Fives world, producing lots of promising and enthusiastic players year after year at Cranleigh Prep School, often having to cope with the frustration of not seeing them go on to fulfil their potential at the senior school. This year has been no exception and was capped bye a Cranleigh Prep pair reaching the final of the inaugural Girls U13 competition at the National Schools' tournament - a tremendous achievement.
Ryan has been coaching at Berkhamsted Prep School for a couple of years now and the results of his work are becoming obvious. Several of his former charges have performed to a high level, reaching finals and winning titles at the National Schools' championships this year and Ryan had the satisfaction of overseeing a first ever win in the U11 competition for one of his pairs.
Anthony has been coaching at Berkhamsted for several years now, and has had probably his most successful year to date. Ant has previously proved an expert at getting good numbers on court and seamlessly feeding his school players into league and adult Fives and he continues to show the way in that area. This year he has added some school successes to his CV, building on the work done by Ryan Perrie in the prep school and producing winning pairs in the U13 and U15 girls competitions at the National Schools' Championships and runners-up at U12 and U13 level.
Howard's reputation as the doyen of Fives coaching is already well-assured but this year provided him with his most successful year at school level since the Wiseman/Toop/Cooley glory years of the late 1990s. There was success at younger age groups to prove that the Olavian talent conveyor belt is still working - U13 winners, U14 and U16 finalists at the Schools' Championships - but it was his group of senior players who really caught the eye this year, with success in the Adult leagues in Division 2 and 3, a Williams Cup win and both finalists in the Open at the National Schools' Championships - a rare feat indeed.
Special Contribution to Fives
Women's Fives is booming at the moment - increasing numbers playing, competitions flourishing and record entries into tournaments at senior and school level. Mandie is the EFA Director i/c Women's Fives and has played an instrumental role in encouraging the growth of the game and getting and keeping as many players involved as possible.
President of Oxford University EFC, court-builder, key member of the Lancing and Newbury clubs, host of successful Fives tours to his own courts in Provence, always the first to volunteer for a game anywhere for anyone against anyone and still playing a mean game of Fives at the age of 72, Nigel's contribution to the game is remarkable. The uberveteran's uberveteran.
The quiet man of the EFA, Richard is a behind the scenes doer par excellence. He is now established as a world expert in how to fill in grant application forms for Sport England and all sorts of different charities and has also taken over the key role of looking after the production and distribution of Fives balls. Richard is the sort of person who rarely gets the recognition they deserve but without whom the sport wouldn't function.
It's always exciting when a brand new school comes onto the Fives scene. Initially, the tie-up between Eton and nearby Holyport School looked like it might be just a nice idea that didn't quite work, but that has all changed with the arrival at Holyport of Faye Kerr, who has taken on the mantle of running Fives at the school with great enthusiasm and dedication. With expert help from Mike Hughes and Sam Welti at Eton, the Fives programme at Holyport is now a roaring success, with large numbers of pupils playing the game and over 30 pairs entered in this year's Schools' Championships.
Running a Fives team is not an easy job, as anyone who has tried it will tell you. Running a Fives team when it's been thrust onto your plate at short notice and while you're still a student is a daunting task indeed, so it is hugely to Darshan Patel's credit that he has done such a sterling job getting sides out to represent Team Westway in Division 1 and 2, never losing heart even in the face of some tough results in Division 1 at times and setting a great example by playing in virtually every match himself.
Since returning to Fives after a long absence about 18 months ago, Nick Preston has made a huge impact on the game. Not content with getting stuck into organsing the Cambridge Chroniclers club, recruiting new members and running regular practices, Nick has also almost single-handedly set about reviving the game at Uppingham School and amongst the Old Uppinghamians. He organised a remarkable weekend at Uppingham back in November, tracking down scores of former players and persuading nearly 100 of them to come along to a gala dinner and weekend of Fives. The result is an upsurge of interest at Uppingham with the Headmaster enthused, a new Master-in-Charge running the game and talk of new courts, all thanks to Nick's hard work and remarkable powers of persuasion.