EFA Awards 2018: Vote Now!
As is now traditional, the EFA Dinner on May 11th 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.
*** VOTING IS NOW CLOSED ***
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 5th.
Player of the Year
Seb has been right at the top of the game for nearly a decade now, but his standards don't appear to be slipping yet and this season's story has been one of further dominance and the winning of even more trophies than his father. The triple crown of London, Northern and Kinnaird along with Tom Dunbar was wrapped up once again for the loss of only one game alongside yet another Alan Barber Cup for the Old Olavians and another mixed title with sister Charlotta.
As with Seb, Tom's powers continue to show no sign of waning and the records keep on piling up. Tom has added yet another London, Northern and Kinnaird title to his CV with his Kinnaird record now reading a Phil Taylor-esque 14 wins from 17 finals. Tom hasn't quite been able to repeat last season's stunning league record of 16 first pair wins out of 16, but he has still led the Old Harrovians to second place in Division 1 with eleven wins in twelve appearances.
Karen has again proved that she is right at the top of the ladies game with another win in the ladies championship final alongside Charlotta Cooley. She has also made great strides this season in league Fives for North Oxford, establishing herself as a Division 1 player with a record of five wins in ten appearances in the top flight to go alongside her four wins in six appearances in Division 2. She also captained the North Oxford ladies team to a first ever win in the Richard Black Cup this year with a series of outstanding displays at first pair and became the first female player to play in a winning Westway Superleague final team last summer.
Jonny has further consolidated his position at the top end of the game this season, improving on last year's performances to make the London Tournament semi-finals in December and then two major finals, firstly at the Northern Tournament in Shrewsbury and then in the Kinnaird Cup. He has also won seven matches out of seven for the Old Cholmeleians in Division 1 this year.
Previously a winner of the Young Player of the Year award in 2016, Riki has continued to make progress in the last couple of seasons. He started this year with a third consecutive win in the Under 25 tournament, then followed up with a first major final in the Northern Tournament at Shrewsbury partnering Jonny Ho before reaching a first Kinnaird Cup final in April.
The Old Millhillians have had a fantastic league season in 2017/18, winning the Division 1 title for the first time since 2013. There is no doubt who has been the key player for the OMs, with Sunil leading the team and winning 11 out of 14 matches, the majority at first pair and with a variety of different partners. He also made the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup with Ed Taylor.
Young Player of the Year
Already a top player during her time at Highgate School, Marjolaine has made further strides this year in her first year at Oxford University. Starting the season with a runner-up placing in the Under 25 tournament, she then embarked on a winning spree that saw her pick up the Universities, Under 21s and Universities Mixed titles before ending the season with a dominant victory in her first pair contest at the Varsity Match.
Still at school, and having moved back to Suffolk after a brief spell at Marlborough College, Eloise has really broken through into the senior ranks in the second half of the season. She had a fine schools' championships, reaching the quarter-finals of the girls open with a relatively inexperienced partner and making the semi-finals of the mixed competition. She really showed her class in the ladies championships, where she reached the semi-finals playing with Harriet Asquith. Definitely one to watch for the future!
Third in this category last year, Tom has kicked on further in 2017/18 with a spectacularly successful season. Captain of the all-conquering Oxford University team, Tom led his side to team victories in the Varsity Match and EFA Trophy and added personal victories in the Universities, Under 21 and Universities Mixed tournaments to cap an outstanding year.
Charlie has had some success at school level for Mill Hil this year in partnership with Ian Kidd, notably a nailbitingly narrow defeat in the quarter-finals of the Schools' Nationals and also a run to the semi-finals at the U21s. It is his performances in the league for the Old Millhillians this year that have really stood out, however, as he has played a crucial part in their first title winning season since 2012/13, with a personal record in Division 1 of 12 wins from 13 matches, an outstanding contribution to the team's success.
Eton have produced some fine players in recent years, and Milo is yet another exciting talent emerging from the school. Still only U15, he not only led the school U15 team to victory in the Mike Hughes Cup, but also played in the U18 team that shared the Williams Cup and forced his way into the school U16 first pair, winning the Schools' U16 title a year early alongside Alfred Backhouse.
Already a finalist at Open level in the Schools' Championships in 2017, Kieran was the outstanding player in this year's competition, partnering James Tate and winning a second successive Open title for St.Olave's. He was also a key player in the St.Olave's team that shared the Williams Cup team competition.
Team of the Year
The Mike Hughes era at Eton has been hugely successful and in his final year as coach, the school has had plenty to celebrate - wins in the U15 and U18 (shared) three pair school competitions and wins at U14 and U16 level at the Schools' Championships, along with the runners-up spot in the Open.
North Oxford Ladies
After several seasons of falling at the final hurdle, the North Oxford ladies team finally won the big prize this year, ending a long spell of Highgate dominance to win the Richard Black Cup for the first time, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that none of the North Oxford team attended a Fives-playing school.
This has been an outstanding year for the Old Millhillians, who won the Division 1 title for the second time in their history and the first time since 2013 this year, pipping defending champions the Old Harrovians by one point. Their strength in depth has been confirmed by their second string, who are riding high in Division 2 and already assured of a top two finish.
2017/18 has been close to the perfect season for Oxford University. Making the most of a strong influx of talent in recent years, the Dark Blues have dominated virtually every competition they have entered this year, winning the mens and ladies Universities and U21 competitions, providing both finalists for the Universities Mixed, winning 11 out of 12 pairs in the Varsity Match and winning the EFA Trophy for the second time in three years.
Shrewsbury School Girls
Shrewsbury have proved beyond all doubt this year that they are the current dominant force in schoolgirl Fives. Sophia Breese & Lizzie Ware made the final of the U21 tournament and also made the final of the Schools' Championships, where they were only beaten by teammates Katie Oswald & Emma Graham.
Following last season's hugely successful season was always going to be a tough ask for the St.Olave's School team, but they managed it, with Kieran Walton & James Tate winning the Open title at the Schools' Championships, the team sharing the Williams Cup with Eton and their U16 pair also making the final at the Schools'.
Coach of the Year
Already a two-time winner of this award, Mike has had another hugely successful year in this his final season as coach at Eton. His teams have won the U15 three pair competition and shared the U18 Williams Cup title and his pairs own the U14 and U16 tournaments and reached the final of the Open at the National Schools' Championships.
Now in his second season as coach at Harrow, Ian has really begun to make his mark this year, especially in the younger age groups: Harrow won the U14 beginners competition at the Schools' Championships and produced both finalists in the U15 section, perhaps a sign of things to come?
Away from the schools circuit, the work that has been done at Westway this year has been absolutely outstanding, with large numbers of people - especially school pupils - getting on court and trying the game for the first time. There is a team of great coaches at Westway doing the work and Old Westminster Matt Lewin is one of the main reasons for the success of the Westway project thanks to his enthusiasm, commitment and excellent coaching.
The Berkhamsted youngsters have had another fine season, in large part thanks to the fine work being done by Ryan at the Prep School. The results at the Schools' Championships speak for themselves: finals at U12, U14 and girls U13 level and winners in the U11s and girls U14 and U15 tournaments.
Since stepping on to a Fives court for the first time in early 2017 as the new Fives manager/coach at Westway, Dan has had a huge impact on the Fives provision at the Sports Centre. Under his guidance, large numbers of players have been introduced to the sport and the Westway Juniors in particular have had a tremendous first year as a club, playing several fixtures and sending lots of pairs to the Schools' championships.
Last year's winner has had another highly successful year in charge of the St.Olave's school Fives team. His top pair of Kieran Walton & James Tate won the Open title at the Schools' championships - a second successive win for the school at the top level - the U16 first pair reached the final and his senior team shared the Williams Cup with Eton. The school team are also in a strong position in Division 2, with a chance of winning the title for the second year in a row.
Special Contribution to Fives
If you've been to any major EFA tournaments this year and wondered who the chap was with the stepladder (or the wheelie bin at Shrewsbury), that would most likely have been Chris, fixing his camera to various courts in order to record our major matches. He has then edited and uploaded them all to make them available to view on the EFA's YouTube channel - a big undertaking and a hugely valuable resource and record.
The EFA's exciting FiveStar project is beginning to produce opportunities for more and more people to get involved in spreading the word and helping to expand the sport into new areas. One of the first to put his hand up has been Old Citizen David Cooper, who has taken over the running of the Newbury club from Paul Mason with huge enthusiasm and dedication, running the weekend junior sessions and looking to recruit new players for an adult midweek club with the help of Nigel Cox.
Grants to run the Westway project from John Lyon's charity and Sport England. A grant from the Greenham Common Trust to fund a regional manager for Newbury and Berkshire. Another grant from Sport England towards the proposed courts at Skinners' Academy in Hackney. Another grant from a local charitable foundation towards the new courts at St.Olave's School. The common thread? Richard Dennis and the time and enormous skill that he has put in to write and submit successful bids on behalf of the EFA, for which we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Since it's inception several years ago, the Fives Level 2 coaching courses have gone from strength to strength, with the majority of our main coaches having been through the course and more and more new coaches gaining the qualification every year. Mark Yates has been the frontman for the delivery of the courses and has done a herculean job over the years but the unseen behind the scenes work - and it is considerable! - has been done by Jennifer Green, whose mastery of the mysterious workings of the government quangos responsible for providing the official accreditation is utterly invaluable and who is currently taking the lead in reshaping the Level 2 qualification to conform to the latest policy changes.
Will Seath/Ollie Avery
All sports need enthusiasts, and an amateur sport like Eton Fives more than most. They don't come much more enthusiastic than Will Seath & Ollie Avery, who in the last two years have set up from scratch and run the Fives club at Royal Holloway University, gaining official University sports status, recruiting players, running their own training sessions at Sunningdale and joining in with the Windsor & Eton club practices as well as playing in every match and tournament going.