2017/18 School Reports
Read on to find out the schools' views on the 2017/18 season. Missing reports will hopefully be added shortly...
The fives season was concluded at Eton at the National Schools' championships with our most successful team performance in the last 10 years. All our first pairs reached the last 16 in the main competition before succumbing to seeded pairs and in the plate competition we had three wining pairs, one losing finalist and one losing semi finalist Congratulations to all the players and staff who contributed to this successful week.
The season itself was rather stuttering with postponements of fixtures for weather and court issues rather disrupting the flow. Nevertheless numbers remain strong at junior years and the courts are often full. We lose a group of seniors to the university and club world who have been the mainstay of the programme and I hope they continue to find way to play the game.
Best wishes to Anthony Jacovides, George Reynolds, Shiv Menon, Giles Hirst-Malin and Rabin Selliah for their total support and commitment.
Arguably this has been one of Belmont's best fives season for a few years in a number of ways. Nearly 100 pupils have played fives in the after school clubs with 42 representing the school in fixtures. There have been some incredible achievements, in particular, the success of the newly formed girls team! It has been extremely popular and has successfully attracted some of the sportiest pupils playing. The most successful team were the U12s who won 85.7% of their fixtures. Belmont had their first ever girls fives fixtures against Holyport College and Berkhamsted, which were fantastic matches, winning against Holyport and just losing to Berkhamsted. Year 3 and 4s are now also filling the courts on a Thursday after school in their club meaning every age group is now represented on the fives courts with good numbers. Unfortunately, however, due to the number of people playing, three courts is becoming a significant limitation with even more limited coaching and playing time.
The national championships at Eton were a fantastic experience and Belmont rose to the challenge! The girls first pair of Hannah Taylor-Yeates and Jasmine Garske reached the quarter-finals of the U13 championships. Two pairs from the U12s reached the last 16 (Toby Skelly & Charlie Graville and Finley Donald & Christopher Ioannou), and the U10 first pair of Jake Turner and Max Robinson reached the last 16 of the U11 championships before losing to the eventual winners. The teams all enjoyed a visit to the original court to hear a little bit of history about the sport and how it was invented.
The Autumn Term awards went as follows: Toby Skelly (Most improved), Charlie Graville (Most valuable player), Jasmine Garske (Mason Girls Cup).
Spring Term awards: Toby Skelly (Krendel Fives Cup), Jaiden Hoile (Most Improved), Katy Skelly (Mason Girls Cup), Jake Turner (U11 Cup), Charlie Graville and Toby Skelly (Best Pair Shield)
Fives colours were awarded to: Jasmine Garske, Hannah Taylor-Yeates, Katy Skelly, Zack Coffer, Jaiden Hoile, Christopher Ioannou, Patrick Keenan, Annabel O’Carroll, Grace Keenan, Helena Costa, Ella Robinson, Luke Chesney, Eli Langleben, Luca Nicopoullos, Max Shukov, Charlie Smith, Ben Waller.
A truly fantastic couple of terms with lots of enjoyment and both individual and team successes. Many thanks to Ollie McGuinness for all his hard work helping with Belmont Fives and setting up the girls club and team and thanks also to Steve Plummer at Mill Hill for his constant support and advice.
Derek Whitehead Trophy winners and players; Berkhamsted at Eton; London Tournament pairs
Success at the National Schools' Championships
I often groan at the thought of writing sports reports, but the end of season Fives School report is certainly moving away from a chore to a pleasure!
The season once again kicked off with the 3rd annual Derek Whitehead Trophy Tournament; an Old Berkhamstedian (or guest) pairs up with a junior pupil for a fun social competition. Again entry went up this year with 16 pairs taking part and both a main and plate competition being played. It is a great way to start the term getting both the school players and the OBs geared up for Fives season as well as creating those so important strong links between school and OB Fives.
The ever popular Inter-House Fives events took place in the first term with again a huge entry of 288 players taking part across years 7 – 11. The year 9 event in particular was heavily attended with 81 players taking part meaning for the first time ever we had to split across the two sites using both the 6 Castle courts and the 3 prep courts. The standard of Fives was very high across the board with lots of top level Fives being played not only in the later rounds but many of the closely contested group stage games also. The illustrious Paul Dicker Cup presented to the House for overall success was very tight with only a point separating the winners Tilman.
Unfortunately the girl’s event had to be cancelled due to the poor weather conditions, but we are hoping to run a Y7 – 10 competition later this summer term as well as the Y5 & 6 Prep Inter-House events.
We also had another great fixture card across the three terms with a total of 88 fixtures being played winning 58, losing 21 and drawing the remaining 9; this was represented across Y5 – 13 girls and boys. The huge fixture card included matches against Harrow, Mill Hill & Belmont, Charterhouse, Stowe, RGS High Wycombe, QEB, Eton College, Aldenham, Westminster, The Jesters Club, Holyport, Uppingham, Westway, Cardinal Vaughan (Westway based), Ipswich, Emanuel, Highgate, Ludgrove, Summer Fields, Cranleigh Prep and Westminster Under. One of the most enjoyable fixtures was our 4-way junior multi fixture with Berko, Cranleigh Prep, RGS High Wycombe and Westway; the boys hopefully got a lot out of the day’s event constantly rolling on and off the Prep courts against a variety of opponents.
Berkhamsted also took part in two REFCA events; the U12s Individual and the Girls Open Individual. In the U12s event we had 22 boys and girls take part from Y6 while in the Girls Open Individual 15 girls took part from Y7 – 12 with the tournament eventually being won by two of our top U14 squad players.
The season once again rounded off with the Fives Nationals, again this year at the home of Fives Eton College; the school was represented very well with 111 players taking part across years 5 – 13. Berkhamsted then went on to have one of its most successful seasons in years, if ever, in the history of Berkhamsted Fives; the school recorded no less than 7 finalists in the U11s, U12s, U13 Girls, U14s, U14 Girls, U15 Girls and Prep championships with Berkhamsted winning and taking home the silverware in three of them. The U12s is yet to be played later this summer term*. The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the Prep Championships where our top U13 pairing reached the final and lost in a very tight game 1 – 2 to a well drilled Summer Fields pair. Nevertheless it was an incredible achievement from the boys with Berkhamsted last reaching the final 42 years ago! In many ways what was even more pleasing than just the outstanding results was the sportsmanship and attitude of all the boys and girls across the Nationals themselves; always composing themselves in the ‘spirit of the game’ and so pleasing to hear such positive comments from fellow coaches and colleagues about their behaviour on and off the court. The game truly does go hand-in-hand with this aspect which sometimes often gets overlooked.
Berkhamsted pupils also made waves outside the school circuit dipping their toes into the adult game; a few senior boys represented the school well in the League 1 side adeptly managed by OB Andrew Joyce, coaches Ryan Perrie and Anthony Theodossi paired up with two junior Y9 boys in the London Festival winning both the plate and the overall competition as well as in the Kinnaird Festival where Theodossi and his young partner took home the main spoils. A young squad also took part in the Richard Black Cup and despite little success on the day the junior girls certainly gained valuable experience from the event as well as pushing some of the adult pair’s hard throughout the tournament. In the end they won the 7th/8th playoff against Cambridge University 3- 0, a great result to end the day on.
As always one of the key focuses of the school is to look at the future of the boys and girls playing and where their Fives will lead after their time at Berkhamsted. With this in mind there will be a slight shift in the fixture card next season with reduced senior fixtures as we look to enter a second League 1 side with many of the senior boys playing in these adult matches alongside the coaching staff.
Once again we must say a farewell and big thank you to all our leavers for all their time, effort and commitment throughout their years at Berkhamsted; once again we look forward to welcoming them through the transition from school Fives into the Old Berkhamstedian club.
*since won by Berkhamsted
No report received yet
Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
CVMS players at the Nationals
This is the first year ever The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School have played Fives (and Wallball). The initiation began in September with the wonderful ‘Coach Dan’ at the Westway, schooling a group of 5th Form boys. Within a few months we had played our first ever fixture against Berkhamsted (Thank you Anthony) and boys were entering open tournaments in and around London.
We finish the season with some Lower School boys beginning to learn the game and having great fun, with a view to a fixture against Emanuel next season. The 5th Form topped their year with a wonderful turnout and a huge amount of enjoyment had at the National Championships at Eton, thank you again to all involved in the superbly organised day.
Charterhouse girls at Eton and the Richard Barber Cup team
The resurgence of Fives continues apace at Charterhouse, with plenty of success for our pairs over the two terms, regular club nights and fixtures against a range of adult opposition, and increased pupil involvement across the school though Junior and Senior Inter-House competitions. Particularly pleasing has been the enthusiasm of over a dozen new Fourths, amongst whom there are some real prospects for the future, and the continued growth in stature of the girls’ game at Charterhouse, under the tutelage of our first ever girls’ captain, Adelina Dan.
The backbone of our fixture list continues to be against the powerhouses of schoolboy Fives, and it is encouraging to see successes dotted around our fixture card against the likes of Eton, Harrow, and Highgate. Alongside this we have been keen to maintain our positive relationships with schools where Fives is less established and it is a great shame that the mercurial March weather put paid to the inaugural Vargas trophy we were scheduled to host.
The Seniors, led by captain Christian Pethick have learnt plenty from regular Tuesday evening Fives with OCs, Brigands and redoubtable members of Brooke Hall, and notched up victories against pairs from Berkhamsted, Highgate and St Olave’s, as well as the Jesters. There are some encouraging signs for next year in the performances of Robert Elston, who has been excellent at first pair all season, as well as Hector Platt and Finlay McLellan who won the Plate competition at the U16 National Championships at Eton. The U16s have more than held their own on our circuit, and the improvements shown by Louis Thomson and Charlie Howard equally augur exceedingly well for the future. At least as encouraging is the enthusiasm for the game amongst Charterhouse girls, who have had more fixtures than ever before, culminating in 3 pairs entering the National Schools’ Championships in March (a first for the school). Older hands such as Lindsay Kightley have lent great support to this year’s newcomers and we hope that the likes of Lia Rockey and Holly Gardner will continue to take the girls’ game here from strength to strength next year.
Further down the school it is likewise very heartening to see such enthusiasm for the game amongst Removes and Fourths. The U15s have enjoyed success against Eton, Lancing, RGS High Wycombe despite Charlie Turner playing in the U16s for much of the season, and it has been pleasing to watch the continued development of the likes of Ambrose Witherspoon, Jack Brown and Demi Adeyinka. Perhaps most impressive of all in the Fives club this year have been our Yearlings– Mackenzie Faull and Tom Fowler enjoyed an excellent OQ at first pair, and despite Tom’s season being curtailed by injury Mackenzie and Rory Mackie did well to reach the Quarter Finals of the National U14s at Eton. Elsewhere there has been much promise shown by (amongst others) Orlando Everitt, Will Turner, and the pairing of Taki Ejima-Dalley and Andrey Avakyan.
A contributing factor to the popularity of the game amongst especially these junior boys has been the successful Inter-House Fives competitions run on Tuesday evenings, and thanks indeed are due to organiser Robert Elston, next year’s captain, for his energy and initiative in orchestrating these. The winners of the junior competition were Gownboys (Charlie Turner and Charlie Harrison), with Bodeites (Hector Platt and Jamie Marmion) emerging victorious from an entertaining senior final with Gownboys.
Thanks, finally, are due to JCT for all his hard work off-court and on, to the raft of OCs and other adults who lend such support to the pupils’ development (amongst them Mark Platt and Ronald Pattinson) and to new coach Tom McCahon whose good humour and expertise has been a real fillip to Carthusian Fives at all levels. We all look forward excitedly to 2018/19!
City of London
This has been a productive year for the small band of players at City: three members of the Senior Sixth have developed their game under the tutelage of Matt Wiseman as well as the invaluable coaching and encouragement they receive from the Old Citizens on Thursday evenings at Highgate. Saajan Shah and Nick Choustikov put in a decent showing at the Nationals and have been playing for the OCEFC when available. The highlight of the year was the 125th anniversary celebrations of the OCEFC at Lords: we hope that there will be scope in the School development plan to allow for the construction of courts at the School in the near future.
Plate finalists at the Aberconway Cup
No report received yet
Cranleigh Prep players at the Prep Schools and at Eton
It has been another busy and enjoyable Fives season for the boys and girls at Cranleigh Prep School. Operating as an activity where children only get to play once a week in their own time we continue to punch above our weight and once again there have been some notable developments including entering the Under 11 Nationals for the first time and another strong performance in the Girls u13 where we reached the Semi-finals. The question is how, or whether, we can bridge the gap to the schools who have the courts on site and are able to play whenever they like. The solution seems to be to build some courts at the Prep School which would really help to establish and promote the game at the Prep School and perhaps encourage Cranleigh School to provide more of a platform for the boys and girls to enjoy the game. All it needs is a spare quarter of a million pounds!
Before I start on the details of the how everybody got on I must begin by singing the praises of my two partners in crime namely Harry Thomas and Mike Till both of whom give so willingly of their time, patience and expertise. Term after term, season after season they are there to share in the joys, successes and disappointments. Without their efforts and enthusiasm and indeed stamina I am not sure where we would be. I owe them both a sincere vote of thanks. Mr Till is moving on at the end of the year. He will leave a large gap in so many ways.
3 Cranleigh Pairs entered and as always it was great to see the improvements made by the boys over the course of the day. The top two pairs of Charlie P/Freddie F and Luke H /Scott W both sailed through their groups and into last 32. Charlie and Freddie missed out narrowly to Emmanuel 2 in a close run affair which they eventually lost 9-12 in the decider. Luke and Scott meanwhile came out on top in another epic encounter. Having lost the first game to St Olaves 2 they rallied well winning another 12-8 in the decider. Reaching the last 16 was a fantastic achievement for the boys and they were pitted against one of the top seeds in Berkhamsted 1. The first game was a close run thing and the boys really stepped up their games against the eventual semi-finalists. Ultimately Berkhamsted prevailed but it was perhaps the first time in a while that we were competitive against one of the top 4 teams and this was very encouraging.
Prep Schools U13
The Prep Schools Tournament is perhaps the hardest and most unforgiving of all the competitions that we enter because the strength is so strong across the board and nearly all the schools entering are in the position of having the luxury of courts on site. This makes it a very tough proposition for our lower pairs. George/ Liam and Freddie/Carsten toiled hard all day and made huge improvements but without much material success. Scott and Jonah fared better but narrowly lost when in good positions. The first pair of Luke and Charlie performed well in a tough group winning their first 2 games well. Their final group match saw them against the traditional powerhouse of Highgate. Frustratingly we were close but not quite able to convert some good play into a victory. This theme was repeated later in the day when they reached the semi-final of the Marston Plate. We played well and more than held our own but we do struggle to turn ability into results. It is largely a question of consistency and court time.
The U 12 Nationals was the best attended and subsequently busiest tournament of the year with a staggering 90 pairs all descending on Eton. Cranleigh were well represented with 5 pairs taking part. Pairs 4 and 5 Ben/Freddie and Jacob/Jack were slightly overawed at the start of the day but gradually found both greater confidence and consistency and by the end of the day were winning lots of games. Jacob’s cutting in particular was a highlight and they will undoubtedly keep improving with greater practice and exposure to the game. The first 3 pairs all progressed through their groups with some strong performances putting them into the last 32. The competition begins to intensify at this stage and Eddie/Harry and James/Toby both went out at this stage. Eddie and Harry in particular put up a very strong performance and only narrowly missed out. The improvement made by these 2 was a joy to see and Eddie’s movement and court developing court awareness were one of the highlights of the day. The last 16 saw the first appearance of the seeded teams and although they struggled hard it proved a step too far. It was however a magnificent performance for them to get to this stage and they will undoubtedly have benefitted for the exposure. Hopefully they will come back even stronger next year now that they understand just where the bar is set.
Slightly against the form we took 3 girls to this competition; a pair and a half! It was agreed that they would rotate whenever possible. Winnie, Charlotte and Effie qualified in style by winning all of their pool matches. This gave them a coveted bye into the second round of the knockout stages. Charlotte and Winnie then set about their second round opponents and played with increasing confidence and skill and saw them off in style. Winnie winning the last 3 points of the decisive game with three unplayable volleyed returns of the cut. Effie took over and she and Charlotte performed very well against a strong Highgate pair and won through to the semi-finals; a fabulous achievement. All three girls were cutting superbly and their movement around the court improved and as a result, they were able to keep the ball in play and so kept the pressure on their opponents. Sadly the girls met their match in the semi and lost to the eventual winners of the tournament; Highgate 1. Once again our team drew praise for the other coaches; it was felt that given a kinder draw they may well have reached the final. It is worth mentioning that this was an U13 tournament and so they have gained much valuable experience of match play. They will be genuine contenders for the future. Time now to inspire a few more girls to take part next year on the strength of our success this time; then who knows how things will turn out! The girls were a credit to themselves; their willingness to play the game in the correct way and to really try to improve was exemplary; congratulations on an excellent effort throughout the day.
We entered four pairs for the competition, as ever the cold wind was blowing along the Eton ‘wind tunnel’ making it rather chilly for the competitors. All four pairs qualified from their pool games into the knockout stages; a fine achievement in itself. Sadly 3 of our pairs were eliminated in the next round, however, there was plenty more fives ahead as they all entered one of the plate competitions. Archie and Paddy our fourth pair improved in leaps and bounds and were soon beating higher ranked teams. Indeed, pair two consisting of Ivan and Rory met our pair three, namely Jamie and Monty in the final of their plate competition. After a close and fiercely fought duel Rory and Ivan were victorious.
Our first pair Henry and James progressed into round 3 where they met Summer Fields 1. It was a fabulous match, and a really high standard of Fives was displayed by both pairs. Indeed they only narrowly lost to Summer Fields whom, I understand, went on to narrowly lose in the semi-finals of the competition. Their coach was full of praise for our boys; in future years they will surely be one of the leading pairs on the Prep Schools circuit.
James and Henry went on to win the Plate competition proper beating Highgate 1 and Berkhamstead 2 along the way; two notable scalps. It was a grand day out; the boys were fabulous in their approach and displayed excellent sportsmanship. Above all they have improved and gained valuable experience of tournament Fives.
Emanuel success at the London Tournament
The Eton Fives Club has been exceptionally well attended throughout the year. It has been particularly pleasing to see the Hill form integrate so well with the school’s more established players. The annual season culminates in the National Championships for each age group, hosted at Eton College.
We sent multiple pairs per age group to the Nationals and all did very well. The standard is very high, with some pairs having played together for multiple years. Despite this, ours pairs did exceptionally well. Felix Cole & Medhi Djemi topped their group and won their second round game in the U11 tournament. The same two boys made up our first pair in the U12 tournament the following week, they reached the semi-final of the plate competition which is excellent for a group of boys playing a year up. In the U13s, our first and second pairs of Arthur Fraser-Cobb & Ben Horley (1st Pair) and Ethan Wirasinha & Jacob Emler (2nd Pair) both progressed through their groups and in to the trophy before coming unstuck in the knock out rounds. Luke Johnston and Dom Gastaldello progressed through their group stages also and in to the plate competition. The U15 first pair of Paddy Hickey & Will Rumble were placed in a difficult group but managed to get some success. Our U16 first pair of Tom Marwood and Olly Olby raced through their group stages before beating St Olave’s and Shrewbury pairs in the knockout stages. They fought well but were eventually knocked out in a close encounter at the business end of the tournament.
Eton winners at the National Schools' Championships and in the Williams and Hughes Cups
The college has enjoyed another busy year of fives, internally and externally, and as ever we have had lots of youngsters trying out the game for the first time. Some stay with us and some move on, but importantly most of our new intakes try the game out and this year, as every other year, we had almost 80 pairs enter our internal New Boys Fives competition.
At the top of the school our Keepers, Finlay Watt (PEPW) & Harry Thistlethwayte (JDN) proved themselves to be amongst the very best of school senior players. Their dedication to the game and determination to improve saw them pretty much unbeaten throughout the season. As Harry was also concentrating on two senior rackets titles this year, what he has achieved has been truly commendable. Of late we have been blessed with plenty of strength in depth and in Frank Gordon Clark & Kit Penny and Xander Watt & Cassian McDonald (all RDOC) we once again had two more senior pairs who, on their day, could have been contenders for first pair. In the end, however, we went with F.Watt & Thistlethwayte.
At Under 16 level we were also very strong. Alfie Backhouse (COLL) & Ben Porter (AW), Henry Wilkinson & George Gompertz, George Brand, Louis Gordon Clark (all RDOC), Freddie Morgan (JDN) & Malachi Mills (PGW) were joined by U15s (who could not play in this year’s U15 Tournament by virtue of reaching last year’s U14 National Schools quarter-finals or beyond), Milo Russell (PGW), Ed Bingham (MJP), Jo Menell (COLL) & Tom Capstick-Dale (JCAJ).
Having four Under 15 players at Under 16 level therefore allowed other Under 15s to benefit from fives at a more competitive level and we saw much improvement across the board in Gus Beagles & George Freeman (both RDOC), Bo Swallow (JDN) John White (JDM), Freddie Loehnis & Alex Grundy (both JDN), Caspar Soyoye & David Doughty (both RDOC), Patrick Murray (ABH) and Max Loup (RDOC).
We were also very fortunate this year to have had four or five really top class Under 14 players from Summer Fields, Sunningdale & Ludgrove prep schools. Seb Hopkins (PGW), Henry Daly (JDN), Max Krefting (PGW), Louis Hopton (PAH), Jake Turcan & Henry Buxton (both RDOC) ensured that the rest of our year had players to look up, and aspire, to and this helped bring on our novices, Rowan Hathaway & Ben Smailes (both JDN), Hugh Halfhide & George Coomber (both PGW), Ed Pearce & Freddie Guy (both PAH), Seb Hoornweg (MJP), Thomas Biddulph (PAH) and Alfie Dean (AW).
All the above, and indeed many more, completed two terms of fives during which we played 43 fixtures, including hosting Bryanston at Eton and travelling to Emanuel for the first time in many years. As well as this we enjoyed our 6th senior fives tour to Grillon in late September and took part in the Williams Cup and the Hughes Cup.
This year the Williams Cup was a very close affair with two schools quickly looking to be the strongest of the 7 entrants. By the end of the final match there was nothing to choose between Eton & St. Olave’s in terms of points and so it was decided to share the cup for 2018. This was our 5th victory in 7 years and proves my point above re strength in depth.
Likewise we had a very strong Hughes Cup squad with all our very best Under 15s and U14 experts eligible. A slightly different format this year saw the early rounds played at two centres followed by a semi-final and a final, all on separate dates. The final brought Highgate to Eton to play the hosts and after three highly competitive and close matches Eton came out worthy winners, retaining the cup in its second year.
So to the National Schools Tournament, hosted by Eton this year. Our three senior pairs were seeded 2, 4 & 8 respectively (in itself a first for the college), whilst our U16 first pair (Backhouse & Russell) and U14 first pair (Hopkins & Daly) were both seeded at No.1 in their respective age groups. The week was as it always is, great fun and threw up some fantastic – if somewhat surprising – performances. Most notable of those for Eton was at Under 16, where a scratch pairing of Jo Menell (U15) & Hugo Lloyd (U16) played together for the first time and managed to knock out the No.4 seeds from Harrow in a 3 hour, 4 set humdinger! Unfortunately, despite taking the first set against the Olavians in the quarter-finals, they ran out of steam and were beaten by 3 sets to 1. However, they can be very pleased with their performance and should be looking to push on next year.
Our main thrust in the Under 15s lay with Gus Beagles & George Freeman (both RDOC) who, despite not having played as much as they should have, or would have liked to, put up a great performance to get to the quarter-finals before losing a very close 5 setter to the eventual Harrovian winners.
Our Under 14 (experts) were seeded 1, 5 & 6 and it was no surprise that Seb Hopkins & Henry Daly cruised through to the final without dropping a set. Hopton & Krefting and Turcan & Buxton both reached the quarter-finals before they came across very strong Olavian and Berkhamstedian opposition.
Our novices all played their hearts out and we had five pairs through to the last 16, a commendable effort. Ben Samiles & Rowan Hathaway made it to the semi-finals before succumbing to a very strong Shrewsbury pair. With a total of 9 pairs on show for us at this age group my successor, George Thomason, has much cause for optimism and can look forward to working with some real talent going forward.
So to Finals day where Eton had three representatives. At senior level Messrs Watt & Thistlethwayte had eased effortlessly into the last day without dropping a set, as had their opposition from St. Olave’s. In a tense, re-scheduled final (Harry Thistlethwayte was busy winning the National Schools doubles rackets tournament at Queen’s on the scheduled finals day, Saturday) the Etonians found it difficult to reproduce their destructive fives of the semi-finals, and lost in four evenly contested sets. However, all in all this was a massive effort from Harry and he very nearly pulled off a memorable double.
Next up we saw the Under 16 final, again between Eton & St. Olave’s. The Etonian pair were the top seeds, despite having an Under 15 player in their ranks. However, Milo Russell did not look out of place, indeed his reliability of return and volley allowed Alfie Backhouse to demonstrate what a fine attacking payer he is. At times during the first set it really did not look like a contest. However, full credit to the Olavians who fought gallantly, took a set and pushed us all the way in the fourth set. But, at the end of the day the best pair undoubtedly won and huge congratulations should go to them both. Indeed whilst Alfie moves on to senior fives from here, Milo is looking forward to coming back again next year!
Finally, onto the Under 14 expert final, which was between the top two seeds of Eton & Berkhamsted. It was all a very cagey affair during the first two sets with both pairs looking more worried about losing rather than going all out to win. However, in the third set, Seb Hopkins showed why he is such a talented player and once he could sniff victory, he closed proceedings out clinically, support admirably by Henry Daly, whose cutting was exemplary. They will be looking forward to next year’s Under 16 tournament with relish!
As ever I cannot do this job without the help and dedication of others. First of all I would like to extend my thanks to my Keepers this year who worked tirelessly to make the fives club a place where boys wanted to come, play and improve. Secondly to Alice Ford who looks after our Under 14 novices. It’s a huge role which she fulfils with patience and good humour. To Daniel Bond who in his first year at Eton has helped enormously, whether on court or as host for fixtures. To Mark Strutt who is on court playing with the junior boys every Tuesday and Thursday evening. To George Thomason who has come to Eton this year as a Graduate assistant and has shown what a fine player and great coach he is. Popular with the boys and aware that success is a mere byproduct of enjoyment, I could not be happier to be passing over the reins to him.
Lastly I would like to say a huge thank you to my fellow coach, mentor and friend Ralph Oliphant-Callum. He has been a major driving force behind our strength in depth over my seven years here, supplying as he does, anything upward of 50% of my school teams from his boarding house. His enthusiasm and love of the sport and what it can do pastorally for his boys has been inspirational. I will miss his friendship, humour and guidance……………..It has truly been a blast!
Geelong Grammar School
2018 has been a good year for Eton Fives at Geelong Grammar School. In February we hosted a visit from Simon de Zoete, Chairman of the Old Etonian Fives club. It was exciting to learn of the wholehearted efforts to popularize the game in the U.K. and gave us a kick start to our year. Students were excited to see international visitors playing the game. It was heartening to hear that Simon had also visited Scotch College in Melbourne to discuss their plans to build a set of courts there. Hopefully we might soon have a local rival to play some inter-school games.
It is hard to talk about Eton Fives without talking about History. For many students, and other Geelong Grammar community members, the strange looking courts in the middle of the School remain an enigma. The first recorded games of “Scratch Fives” took place at GGS as early as 1875. Two ‘Fives’ courts were established at Corio in 1914. A Donation by a parent of 100 pounds received for the upgrade of one of the courts to be suitable for ‘Eton Fives’ arrived in 1943 and the court completed 10 years later in 1953. There are many courts in the U.K. but very few in the southern hemisphere; the courts at Geelong being the only ones in Australia and fairly certainly the southernmost in the world.
Originally developed by students at Eton College, while they waited outside chapel, this game of handball is always played in pairs. The strange buttresses and ledges make it a fast and unpredictable game. According to Raold Dahl (who was a schoolboy Captain and enthusiast), “You need a swift eye, strong wrists and a very quick pair of hands”.
The popularity of the game at GGS has waxed and waned since the inception of the game here. Fives has once again operated as a co-curricular activity throughout this year. The annual House Tournament took place in the penultimate week of Term 4 2018 and saw the confluence of two eras of the game. Arthur Angliss (Perry House ’60)?, who was a medal winner in the sport during his senior School days, was able to attend the final games. The Corian of 1959 remembers Arthur’s prowess thus, “Fairfax and Tutton met Blazey and Angliss in the final of the senior competition. It was a very fast match, and resulted in a victory by two sets for Angliss and Blazey, who thus won the competition for the second year in a row.”
2018 saw, for the first time in history, a girl’s house (Elizabeth Murdoch) stand off against a boy’s house (Manifold). Jordan Sussich and Amelia Rule played Bobby Jamieson (School Captain) and Ben Beggs, after having one a set each in the semi-finals the week before. This year, they were not only playing for House Pride but also the Arthur Angliss Challenge Cup. Arthur has very kindly donated a beautiful silver cup to become an annual award for the winning ‘Fives’ pair. The cup itself is as quirky as the game and itself has a fascinating history. The donor brought the cup with him to the match and a crowd of enthusiastic supporters from each of the two houses came to cheer on the competitors. Manifold took the first game and the second went to a nail-biting tie-break. Jamieson and Beggs were, finally, victorious.
The challenge cup promises to draw even more attention to the game, as will plans to upgrade the second of our two courts to ‘Eton’ standards, thanks to another generous benefactor, the late Hon. Frank Callaway.
Success at the National Schools' Championships for Harrow; 150 years of Fives at the schoolHarrow Success at the Fives Nationals 2018
Harrow had a great week at the National Schools' Championships this year with several more pairs entering overall and the weather and the courts at Eton holding up well enough for all the boys to perform at their best.
The highlights were the U15 pairs of Harrow 1 (Fred Prickett and Caleb Efemuai) and Harrow 2 (Ben Hope and Jude Brankin Frisby) reaching the finals of Nationals with Ben and Jude winning 3-1 in the final.
Their paths to the finals were fraught with danger but both pairs managed to overcome adversity in particular Ben and Jude when they were 2 sets down against Eton 1 in the quarter finals.
It was a credit to both pairs that the final was played in the right spirit and obviously disappointing for Fred and Caleb who have played so well as Harrow 1 throughout the year and worked so hard at improving their game and have been a great example to all the other boys who play Fives.
The beginners tournament also saw National success with Jonny Barley and Phoenix Ashworth winning their final also in a hard fought match 3-1 against Shrewsbury 1.
Harrow also had 6 pairs in the last 16 of this event with John Richardson and Max Ferriera at Harrow 2 narrowly losing to Eton 1 in the quarter finals.
Phoenix and Jonny were very well prepared for their match and remembered to stay calm under some strong play from their opponents who were fancied by others to win as first seeds. The match was very close but some great returns of cuts at crucial times saw Harrow edge home with their opponents tiring.
The seniors were also up for the fight with Aria Shirazi and Anthony Cho putting in a superb display whilst finally falling short against Highgate 1. Hugo Rowse and James Cullimore lost very narrowly to St Olaves 2 in the last 16 also produced some excellent Fives.
Qassi Gaba and Max Tonkins played the best they have played all season whilst falling 2-1 to a strong Shrewsbury pair and were perhaps slightly unfortunate not to progress further.
It has been a historic week for Harrow as it is so unusual to have two National Champions in one year. I am so pleased with our efforts all the way through this season and looking forward to next September with several young players now enjoying playing the game and wanting emulate the success achieved this year.
Richard Black Cup team; U13 Winners; Richard Barber Cup team; Turnbull Trophy finalists
No report received yet
Players and winners at the Holyport Staff/Pupils tournament; Success at the National Schools' Championships
As the season comes to a close we can reflect on our most successful Fives term so far. As the love for the sport builds momentum around Holyport College, the students have started to make waves within the Fives community. Throughout the season we travelled far and wide to play and compete in this unique sport and the students have all improved significantly.
This year we entered over 20 pairs into the National Schools Championships across a variety of age groups, and even against extremely strong opposition we performed incredibly well. The U13 Girls consisting if C.Cowper and D.Oyewole won their Plate competition and also reached the semi-final of the Ladies Open which was an phenomenal achievement. C.Pearce and D.Gibson dominated their Plate competition and deservedly won their final 12-5 12-6 after a long day of Fives. The girls have also enjoyed fixtures against Berkhamsted and Mill Hill.
The boys have also enjoyed a successful season with wins against Harrow and Charterhouse, they have really mastered the technical elements of the game and although they didn’t win any silverware this year they are definitely building strong foundations for the future. The boys have also enjoyed fixtures against Eton, Summer Fields and Emanuel.
Holyport College hosted their inaugural Boys, Girls and Beaks Eton Fives Competition this year. Which consisted of 20 Beaks and 20 students in fierce competition. Many of the Beaks had never played Fives before but they soon picked it up and were extremely competitive. It was a great night, lovely atmosphere and lots of fun.
Boys Festival Winners; Richard Black Cup team; Mixed Plate winners
Graves Cup winners; Richard Barber Cup team; Northern Festival Plate B winners
Ninety pupils in Years 7 & 8 put their name down to play in fives club. A record. Even Stubbsy’s arithmetic worked out that 30 per court was not going to work and that even if not all attended every session it was going to be tricky. The first few weeks were a testing time, fitting as many on to court as we could for a few minutes at a time and making full use of the squash courts, sometimes with 10 per court - hardly ideal for developing skills. It was worsened by Squash deciding to start their own lunchtime club two days a week – the cheek!
It was notable that the U12 contingent this year had as many girls playing as boys. In the REFCA U12 Competition they showed the way, beating the boys 3-0 in numbers making the final, with Petra Tweedy winning comfortably with her Berkhamstedian partner. As always it was a brilliant introduction to competitive fives for most of them and we are indebted to Howard and Dom for running these competitions. Without them, we would struggle to develop our players as much as we do. Only a few were able to make the REFCA Girls’ Tournament but U14 Charlotte Pudney impressed and had the satisfaction of making the final. Dunning and Soni made the semi-final in the REFCA U13s and it was just as satisfying to see Catchpole and Davison (a pair one might bet on to win the Maths Olympiad but less so to take scalps on the sports field) make the last 16. Isaac Weaver reprised his performance last year in the U15 REFCA to again make the final at U16.
We enjoyed visits to Berkhamsted with the U13s (9 pairs), 14s & 15s - coming a long way second but with some good performances too. The top match award though went to the visit of Uppingham. Old Uppinghamian Nadia Mason ensured the senior girls’ pair was won by Ipswich, though nails were gnawed in the process. 1-0 became 1-2 and Uppingham reached match point at 11-9 in the fourth, only to have Nadia and Lily Rendell pull level and then take both that game and the next. The U16 Boys’ match was over 2 pairs with an even closer game at first pair than that of the girls. A 14-13 steal by Uppingham in the fifth game was well deserved and left the onlookers in need of a trip to the Greyhound.
Keeping pupils playing as they go up the School is a familiar challenge for many schools. The concentration on academic prospects, major sports both within and outside school and other pursuits, makes it hard to maintain commitment to fives. An overheard remark during the House Competition (superbly run by Charlotta Cooley), “I’d forgotten how much I like fives!” says it all. Access to the major Tournaments and Festivals is a great help, with trips to Repton and Shrewsbury memorable experiences both on and off court. This year Isaac Weaver and Charlie Coe made the last 16 in the Midland and Will Carron and Eloise Carter (OI) the Festival final. Will and Eloise reached the quarter-final of the Northern Festival and Charlies Coe and Tweedy won the last sixteen losers plate.
In the Schools’ Championships we were grateful to Mark Williams for enabling us to field 69.5 pairs (another record), though sadly with no offering for either the Boys’ or Girls’ Open. We were fortunate that the new Boys’ Festival Competition was not targeted by the major schools and it was a delight to have some of our U15s win, by the closest of margins. The final against Zuoz was all that one could hope for in terms of sportsmanship and good humour and the Ipswich coaches were left feeling guilty at having deprived such deserving opponents. Their conduct and the spirit in which they played were exemplary.
Millie Laver and Izzy House reached the U13 Girls’ semi-finals and we had quarter-finalists in the Boys’ U13, Girls’ U14, U15 and Open Festival, and the Mixed Open. Ten pairs made the last sixteen in the various age groups, with Isaac Weaver and Max Hyde putting in an excellent display in the U16 Competition. At a game up and 5-0 against the 8th seeds it looked good with Isaac and Max playing as well as we have ever seen them. Sadly the energy needed to sustain the effort dropped away at that point, leaving Highgate to take their place in the quarters. It was satisfying to have two U12 pairs reach the last sixteen of the U13 Girls’, with Helena Bishop and Gracie Joslin also winning the B Plate.
Isaac Weaver capped a successful season by partnering Eloise Carter in the Mixed Championships and helping her to win the Dossi Dish for the Plate for the second time in a row. Eloise thinks if she wins it next year she gets to keep it.
All in all, a good year.
No report received yet
The fives team have been busy this season with 17 match days and plenty of good results to show for it. In the Preparatory Schools Fives at Harrow Ludgrove 1 (Hope & Acheson-Gray ma) were playing a year ahead of themselves and played well in the semi-final but lost to a steadier Berkhamsted pair. In the U12 Nationals, Hope & Acheson-Gray ma were winning for much of their match in the semi-final against Highgate 1 and had match points before the opposition took advantage of a cruel ledge on foot down. Turcan & Evans-Freke reached the final of the U11 Nationals and were winning in the second game but lost in the end to Berkhamsted 1. The U10 pairing of Garton & Elworthy reached the quarter-finals of the U11 Nationals (thus a year ahead of themselves) which was great experience for them. Ballingal mi & Farquhar also had success in winning the U11 Nationals Plate competition. Overall our strength at the top has shown we are in the mix with the very best pairs around. Both the strength in depth in the school and promise for next year is exciting.
Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz
The Zuoz contingent at Eton
Fives in Zuoz has had a resurgence in playing numbers and this year we sent 29 students to the School's National Championships at Eton - our biggest ever entry. We had 15 different nationalities representing a truly global team. This summer we have our annual visit to Geneva for the Benny Oei Fives organised by Zouzer, Filippo. This is followed by the culmination of our Fives season, the Summer Games. This is where our current students compete against Old Boys and Young Girls from Lyceum. We are looking forward to bringing another big entry next year to Shrewsbury and hopefully in the near future host some schools from England to compete in the beautiful Swiss Alps.
The small band of Eton Fives players at Marlborough enjoyed home and away fixtures against St.Bart’s, with honours even. Fixtures against the Town and the EFA fell victim to the beastly chill and to a shortage of players. We were sorry to lose Eloise Carter after only a term, (though delighted to see her winning trophies later in the season sporting College colours!) Hector Perry, Hugo Beckwith-Moore, Conrad Peck and Oliver Light all made progress this season, and they will all be here next year (Yr 11-12) should anyone else wish for a friendly Wiltshire fixture on our two courts.
Kinnaird Pepperpot Winners; U21 semi-final action; Summers Cup
Mill Team; Summers Cup winers; EFA Young Player of the Year
Overall, the Mill Hill Fives season has gone rather well with good numbers coming through from Belmont, it is hopeful that the squad size will increase in September and looking into the long term. There has been the introduction of a girls fives club which has gone well so far under the influence of Jess Thurtell. Fives is now a popular choice in Wednesday senior games, although standard in some age groups has not been as high as hoped there has been improvement in the individual players during both lunchtime and after school clubs. The season started on the first Sunday of September with the inaugural 'Summers Cup' competition where a pupil plays with an OM. It was won by recent leaver Henry Webster and current Upper Sixth, Charlie Plummer, receiving the trophy which was kindly donated by Mr Andrew Summers. This season the boys teams played a total of 57 fixtures, winning 34 (59%), drawing 7, and losing 16 with wins over Westminster, Berkhamsted and Harrow. The U14s won ten of their 15 fixtures, and the senior team won 80% of their school fixtures. The first pair Charlie Plummer and Iain Kidd, played a great number of adult matches for the Old Millhillians as leading by example to the younger pupils in their determination to improve and general attitude towards fives. As a pair, they went into the national championships unbeaten and seeded third. Earlier on in the season, Charlie and Iain reached the semi-finals of the U21 Nationals and won the pepperpot at the Kinnaird. Charlie won 12 out of his 13 matches in Div 1 for the OMs, with many playing at first pair. Iain won 5 out of 7 matches in Div 1 helping the team to be Div 1 winners.
It was great to take Sienna Turner and Evelyne Fonteyne to the U14 girls competition at Eton as it was the first time Mill Hill have entered this competition. They did very well coming second in their group and eventually losing in the last 16 to Ipswich before reaching the final of the respective plate competition. The U14 boys, led by Jacob Irwin and Jed Lewis, also reached the last 16 before losing to Berkhamsted. The other pairs comprising of Aryan Dewan, Arav Joshi, Freddie Skok, Adam Cansfield, Emerson Allen, and Angelo Lindup, progressed through the groups, losing in the second round and then progressed well in the plate competition. The U15 first pair of Nick Jenkins and Stanley Shepherd, had an extremely tough group but played well for the challenge and enjoyed the day. There is a distinct lack of players in the current year 11 and 12 which will mean almost no seniors playing next year which will be disappointing.
The senior team comprised Charlie Plummer, Iain Kidd, Alex Grubb, Will Jenkins, Jake Clifford, Dylan Gerard, George Dynan, and Alex Singh. Alex and Will reached the final of plate A, before losing in a very close match to Highgate. Charlie and Iain, won their last 32 match in impressive style against a pair from St Olaves, as well as then winning their last 16 match vs Aldenham's top pair. Charlie and Iain dropped only 4 points on day one of the competition to reach the quarter-finals. In the quarter-final they played Shrewsbury. They did not disappoint and played outstandingly, however, the match went into the fifth set and lasted a little under four hours. Unfortunately, with a few important moments not going Mill Hill's way, they lost 13-11 in the final set.
The end of term awards went as follows: Senior Most Improved - Iain Kidd, Senior Player of the Season - Charlie Plummer, Junior Most Improved - Stanley Shepherd, Junior Player of the Season - Nick Jenkins.
We say goodbye to a strong U6th group who have done a lot for fives at Mill Hill over their time, hopefully they will continue into the adult game. It was a great season for Mill Hill and we look forward to it starting again in September with some exciting fives developments already in the planning! Thanks must, as always, go to Steve Plummer, who continues to do so much for Fives at Mill Hill and without whom the programme would not be able to run as it does!
Lots of good work on and off the courts has resulted in progress made across the forms. Oakham courts are currently used five days a week, and interest in the sport continues to build. Fixtures against Uppingham and Shrewsbury this year have been incredibly hard fought, and we have decided to add an edge with the ‘Oakham Challenge Cup’ with our nearest competition in Uppingham. Although our first pairs played admirably, the cup is in the hands of the winners, and we will hope to win it back next year.
Some of our top players will leave the school this year, they have carried the sport well and have worked very hard to inspire others to carry on their good work. Their final flourish was a resounding thumping of staff on the courts, meaning we are doing something right!
The QEB team
This year over 40 QE boys’ represented the school competitively playing Fives. Regular fixtures against the likes of Berkhamsted, St Olaves and Mill Hill have allowed the boys the opportunity to get as much court time as possible. We are hoping to introduce a coach for the second half of the Summer Term to help generate interest and develop the general skill level. With this in place, we would then like to offer after school clubs during the week for pupils who would like to further develop their play when we return in the autumn.
RGS High Wycombe
A new roof on the RGS courts
No report received yet
Welsh Tournament winners
It has been an eventful season of fives this year with matches against Shrewsbury and National Tournaments held at Eton. In all fixtures there have been an abundance of players making them very competitive throughout the age groups. The U13s proved to be a strong year through and through against Shrewsbury; where the boys played a year up and 2 of the 3 pairs winning and the 3rd narrowly losing to a very strong U15 pair. They kept this good form going into their nationals with our U13 top pair Of Osca Clark and Josh Stewart reaching the final of Plate D. However, all pairs showed that they can be exceptional at times but couldn’t quite keep the consistency at this very competitive level. The U12s also showed great potential for the future during their nationals with our top pair reaching the last 16, and perhaps on another day would gone through. Our other 3 pairs all reached semi-finals of plate competitions; once again proving our strength in depth. All in all, the fives this season has been fantastic and hopefully in the years to come we can see some of these players competing at the highest level.
Our players have been working with coach Tom McCahon this year and he has clearly worked wonders as we have had some great results.
During the year the U16s have had played competitive matches against Marlborough at home and away with honours pretty even after both matches. The U12s did well in their matches against a very strong Summer Fields team and although they lost, they learned about some of the tactics of the game. The U14s have played RGS High Wycombe at home a couple of times and when one player was unfit and so unable to play, they all showed fantastic camaraderie in re-jigging the matches so everyone got a game.
At the National we had U12s, U14s and U16s taking part. Our players did themselves justice but special mentions for progress in the Nationals go to the U12 pair of Callum Tang and Ed Hall, the U16 pair of Sasha Howgate and Alistair Swain.
Open winners; U16 runners-up; Williams Cup winners
Northern Plate winners; Northern Festival winners; Richard Barber Cup winners
It was another very busy and enjoyable season! The Senior Fives Team, brilliantly headed by Captain Swastic Gupta, did another amazing job with the new year 7 recruitment. The number of active players representing the school remained over 150, and there were plenty of fixtures played.
The REFCA tournaments kept many younger players busy whilst enjoying their Fives alongside and in collaboration with pupils from other schools.
Players took part in all of the main adult tournaments and the more experienced players enjoyed a terrific visit to play Shrewsbury School on a Friday evening, followed by the Northern Championships over the next two days.
There were many highlights, and the performances during the schools national championships were especially pleasing. Kieran Walton and James Tate won the Open Championships bringing this home for St.Olave’s for the second year in a row.
St.Olave’s also had finalists in the U16s and U14s with semi finalists in the U14s and U15s.
The team results were just as impressive, with wins in the Williams Cup (joint with Eton College), the Richard Barber Cup and League Division 2.
It was especially pleasing to see the enthusiasm with which 6th form girls took to Fives In the Games lessons this year; they really enjoyed the Girls’ festival held at Eton College.
Schools Championships and U21 success for the Shrewsbury girls
This season opened with the fives club already in uncharted waters: we had a 6th form entrant with a sports scholarship as a cricketer and fives player. He and a handful of non-footballers had been on the fives courts regularly in the Michaelmas term so headed into January rust-free.
Our fixtures couldn’t go worse than last season, which saw more cancellations than even Arriva Trains Wales would think reasonable. And the fixtures were good: Eton came to us early on and, given they play for two terms, we were respectable and our younger players got an early taste of competitive matches. Our trip to Highgate, Harrow and Eton was slightly later in the season this year and that, too, went well, with our U14s in particular beginning to look strong and beating all but Harrow. The girls, meanwhile, played in the Ladies’ U21s at Eton in January and Sophia Breese and Lizzie Ware reached the final, narrowly overcoming Issy Wong and Ella Windle in the semis.
Sadly our attendance at the Williams Teams Cup – in which we are always competitive and which gives us a final boost of good senior fives before the Nationals – was scrapped as Eastern winds and accompanying snowfall made travel through the M40’s Cherwell Pass dangerous. It is the first time for at least a decade Shrewsbury has not taken part in this major National tournament.
Meanwhile another dark cloud looms for the Shrewsbury School Eton Fives club. As various year groups spent time in the Lent term on the football pitches, a number of our U15s and U16s saw themselves pulled off the fives courts onto the grass, our top young pairs not therefore developing this year as they had done in past years.
National Fives Championships 2018
This year’s competition was held at Eton, so the usual fleet of minibuses was lined up at KH on Saturday 17th March, largely unaware of what was about to hit them.
The U15s were the first to travel, their competition being on Sunday 18th. The U15 girls set off the following morning for an afternoon start; when they arrived, the boys were already in full flow. It had snowed, of course, overnight and though both the roads and the courts were perfectly clear, the run-off needed to be gritted in the morning and temperatures stayed at levels which, though comfortable for playing in, demanded serious gloves and hats of the spectators.
The great majority of our pairs proceeded untroubled out of the pools; the obvious entry into the top slot for match of the day was from Rohan McCourt and Ed Bayliss, who do love winning a close match (as the most avid readers will remember from their 3-2 epic against Eton last year in the beginners). This year it was against St Olave’s and was a best of three, so Ed and Rohan won 7-12, 13-11, 15-14 to make the last 16. Guy Gowar and Finn Sansom made good progress through Saturday, winning 3-0 in a close quarter final against Highgate 1 in the evening (14-11, 12-4, 14-12) to confirm their place in Monday’s semis. Our second pair, Ted Davis and Jack Fraser Andrews, beat Harrow 3 in the third round to reach the quarters but then drew the second seeds St Olave’s 1who were too strong. The five Shrewsbury pairs in the last 16 included pair 3 Dan Schofield and Laurence Goddard: they drew Eton 3 and, though they won the second game 15-14, lost 2-1.
Guy and Finn started strongly in their semi-final against Harrow, winning the first game to 3. The Harrow pair were shocked into action by this and came back much more strongly. In the end inconsistency at the front court, making mistakes when not under particular pressure, probably made the difference as we lost 1-3.
The U15 girls arrived for a 2:30pm start in their competition. Like the boys, they got five pairs into the last 16 but three got through to quarter finals and our top two pairs both reached the semis. Adelaide Sillar and Georgie Nicholas reached the final, losing to Berkhamsted.
Arthur Garrett and Peter Clark were our top pair in this, seeded 6th after some good results and a number of close matches through the season. They met a good Eton pair in the last 16 and, though they won the first game, they lost 3-1 in a game of long, attritional rallies. Next door, Tom Castling and Marcus van Wyk were taking on 3rd seeds Highgate 1. Here, the scoring was reversed: though they lost a close first, Tom and Marcus showed themselves to be big tournament players and won 3-1 to reach quarter finals. They played Eton the following day and, though not successful there, they have again shown themselves able to beat some of the very best pairs. If they gain consistency in attack through the coming seasons they will be a formidable senior pair.
Five of our pairs went through at the top of their groups, including 4th formers Guy and Finn, whose U15 semi had finished too late to catch the bus to Shrewsbury. The week was getting warmer and some of our players were really getting going too – Antoine Legeais and Joe Kynaston nudging out an U16 Eton pair 12-11. The highlight of the morning for me was seeing Dan Humes, irritated by a let he felt shouldn’t have been taken, charging the next cut and volleying it for a clean winner off the back, the opposition having barely had time to notice what was happening! The highlight of the morning for many others, though, was Rev Aldous’ failure to locate one of the biggest Tesco stores in the country and, as a result, picking up a load of pizzas for lunch. Inexplicably, RHM was seen lurking around the minibus around the time ACVA returned.
Tom Bromley-Davenport and Will Sissons were pair 1. Unseeded despite some good results in the short season, they drew 6th seeds St Olave’s 2 in the last 16 and, though they lost a close first game and conceded a sizeable lead in the second game, they battled back and won 3-1 with the Olavians running out of fight in the 3rd and 4th.
Second pair Dan Humes and Tom Brunskill met Harrow 1 in the last 32. They took the first game 15-13 and continued playing well to take the match and a place in the last 16. Here, they drew Eton 2 who we knew were strong. Eton played consistently and took advantage of any errors or loose shots; as they lost momentum, Tom and Dan’s set piece percentages, usually a strength, began to suffer and they could not work out how to make headway. Though Shrewsbury battled, confidence was with Eton throughout the third game and they won.
In the same round, Peter Clark and Arthur Garrett made a real impression against Eton 3, last year’s U16 winners and 8th seeds. Though they lost, they left with heads held high knowing that they are competitive in a faster, higher level game.
So we had one pair – Tom and Will – in quarter finals and they had taken the 6th seed slot so played 3rd seeds Mill Hill. The North Londoners have a good deal of experience in adult league fives so are not easily unsettled. Shrewsbury started strongly and won the first game, but then tried to cut Mill Hill’s stronger player out of the game, leading to some wrong shot selections and to a 2-1 lead to Mill Hill. A lift in accuracy from both Will and Tom followed in the 4th, setting up a decider. As against St Olave’s, Shrewsbury conceded early points in the 5th and went 2-10 down: many pairs might give up, but a strong set piece denied Mill Hill chances to score so 2-8 became 6-8, then 7-10, then 10-10 and the match was, of course, set to 15. The idea of momentum disappeared, though, as each point or rally became a little match in itself. Points were traded for 11-11, then 12-12, then 13-13 but it was Shrewsbury who reached match point at 14 first and they needed no second invitation, closing it out for a semi-final place. The following day they played second seeds Eton 1. The Eton pair were confident, having played and beaten Tom and Will at Shrewsbury in straight games. That, however, was the first time the Salopians had played together for the School: now they were more settled as a pair. Eton picked up the first two games quickly with so Shrewsbury left themselves the mountain to climb; they had done so in each of their previous three matches and lifted their game to the occasion and this they did again, coming from behind to level the game at 11-11. All players recognised a crucial spell in the match and despite a number of returned cuts and some lengthy rallies, the score remained 11-11 for an agonisingly long time. It was Eton, though, who broke the deadlock, scoring three quick points to close out the match 14-11. It could have been a great match had we won this third: to see how Eton responded with a knock to their confidence would have been very interesting indeed.
Tom B-D finishes his Shrewsbury career a worthy national semi-finalist: Will has proved he can play at the highest level and will look to go two steps further next year.
Our top two pairs were looking very strong going into the beginners’ competition: indeed comments had been made during the U14 main competition that few had seen beginner pairs as good as these. We managed in theory to get four pairs through into Friday’s quarter finals (though in practice Henry McGowan and Henry Lees had to concede on match point in the last 16 as the latter could not play on Friday). Harry Cooke and Dom Zaza had to wait until Friday morning to finish their last 16 match: their opponent hit a blood sugar low and, though the last two pieces of Nick Argyle’s birthday cake were administered to him to help bring his levels back up, it was considered safer that he should play the following morning.
Nick Argyle and Jago Ainslie drew Harrow 1 in quarters. Though they played well, their positions and slight inaccuracies were exposed by Harrow, who won 3-0. Pair 1 Rory and Digby meanwhile saw off Charterhouse and, having completed the previous day’s match, Harry and Dom beat Eton 2 to give us two pairs in semi-finals.
Harry and Dom played Harrow 1 in the semis; Rory and Digby were up against Eton 1. Harry and Dom lost two close games before Harrow pair ran away with the third. Shrewsbury cut very well throughout but Dom was struggling with a knee niggle that reduced his mobility and ability to retrieve as much as Harry did around the front court. Rory and Digby saw off Eton 1 in straight games in a commanding performance in which the ability of both to retrieve around the top step and make Eton work hard for every point was impressive, as was the fact they thought about the game and adapted.
In the final, Rory and Digby started strongly and won the first game. Harrow had got to grips with their cutting, though, and as the second game went on they were returning well – the cut is a great strength of our pair’s; Digby’s ability in particular to deliver rockets to the toes had undone most oppositions. Faced with too many returns, though, we pushed the wrong lever and increased the power rather than the accuracy. This swung the balance towards Harrow and, although the rallies were good, we struggled to find the killer length in the buttress. In the end this combination ended in a 3-1 win to Harrow.
On Friday our senior girls started their campaign: we had won the open ladies’ last year and one of that winning pair, Sophia Breese, was defending her title, playing with Lizzie Ware. Again, we had three pairs in the quarter finals of this competition, with Emma Graham & Katie Oswald and Phoebe Wasdell & Laura Elliott the second and third. The top two pairs both won their quarter-finals to give us representation in both semis. Indeed, both pairs won through, meaning the hard work was done for the coaches and Shrewsbury 1 played Shrewsbury 2 in the final. Emma & Katie won the first game as has often happened before when these pairs played each other, but Sophia & Lizzie responded to take the second. In the third game, Emma’s volleying and ability to hold position in the buttress started to be telling and Katie brought a level of consistency at the back court better than she had displayed all season, so it was pair 2 who took the third and fourth games and the title.
All four girls are Lower 6th formers so Sophia and Lizzie will be vying for revenge next year!
Saturday’s finals were run alongside the mixed tournament, with large entries from Shrewsbury and Zuoz. Again we managed to get large numbers of pairs through to the latter stages, with three pairs in semi-finals and Westminster playing well in a close game to deprive Phoebe Wasdell and Jordan Zaza of the fourth spot. Having been made to battle in their quarter, Westminster were seen off by Sophia Breese and Will Sissons in the semi while on the other side of the draw, Emma Graham and Dan Humes had taken advantage of a faster progressed half of the draw to reach the final knocking out Lizzie Ware and Tom Bromley Davenport. Sophia got her revenge on Emma for the earlier Ladies’ final: she and Will won 2-0 to finish the day and close out the week.
We also won the girls’ festival and were semi-finalists in the new boys’ festival tournament.
The final minibuses set off on their final run back up the M40 almost exactly a week after they’d set off from Shrewsbury with the U15 boys. Over the course of that week, 110 Salopians competed in one or other competition (many in more than one). Hundreds of pizzas, pasta pots and sandwiches were seen off as were at least as many opponents.
My thanks must go to the many school staff who coached, helped, supported, consoled, congratulated and drove around 2400 accumulated miles to allow the boys and girls to compete.
During the Michaelmas Term those that had signed up for Fives worked hard during training and were looking forward to Lent term fixtures. Unfortunately due to some very cold weather and snow a number of fixtures were cancelled and we only managed two fixtures. For the first time in a long time Fives was an activity in the Summer Term twice a week, and those who had played in the previous two terms were able to carry on. The Inter House Fives competition was a great success in all age groups and hopefully has wetted the appetite for more to play the game.
Prep Schools and U13 winners
No report received yet
No report received yet
Uppingham's Fives team
No report received yet
Richard Barber Cup runners-up and U21 representatives
With Station sessions oversubscribed, and some pleasing results at both school, as well as adult levels, the 2017-2018 season has been very encouraging.
The nineteen-strong crop of new 5th formers has shown potential since September, but must now realise the importance of individual practice. Hopefully, the recent trip to the U14 National Championships will have highlighted how essential it is to now reduce the unforced error count, and to be able to play shots not until they go right, but until they simply cannot go wrong.
Jonah Poulard, Angus Bloch, Nicolas Van Dusen and Rupert Yeung continue to form a strong nucleus within the Lower Shell squad and represented Westminster well at various stages throughout this past season.
The Upper Shell continue to be well represented by the hard working Hatam Barma, Oliver Meredith and William Ching. Credit must go to Tarun Eapen, from the 5th form, who stepped up to partner Hatam Barma at this year’s U16 Championships at Eton.
It has been a while since Westminster School had a ladies U18 team. The last time was back in 2008 when Westminster School won the Ladies U18 Open. However, this season has seen the emergence of five very keen players: Viva Ruggi and Daisy Goldman, although admittedly inherited from the Highgate School Fives team this year, represented Westminster excellently, reaching the Semi Finals; with some focused practice these two certainly have the quality to bring the trophy back to Westminster next season. Iris Bertrand and Emily Hassan gained valuable experience in the Ladies U18 festival category and had clearly improved by the end of a full day’s play. Agatha Pethers represented Westminster well in the Mixed National Championships with her male counterpart, Dion Huang. Alongside them Viva Ruggi and Alex Benson battled hard, ultimately losing in the Semi -Finals.
This brings us to the Remove, in particular to Can Koksal, Alex Vinen, Hugo Young, Ali Muminoglu, Connor Shine and Captain, Alex Benson. These six players have been the most loyal bunch over the years and have battled hard on court throughout their school career. Notable results this past season must include Benson and Koksal beating the Men’s 8th seeds at the Kinnaird Cup – a first for any Westminster pair. Furthermore, by fulfilling their seeded position of 7th at the Schools’ National U18 Championships, they confirmed their clear ability as a pair. Vinen and Young have been hot on the heels of the first pair all season; in fact, these four have been hard to distinguish between in terms of quality. I hope they continue to enjoy their Fives over the coming years.
A new top squad stands in the wings next season in the form of Leo Doody, Daniel Gore, Dion Huang and Brian Chen. Plenty of work to do, but the foundation is looking promising.
Thanks, as usual, must go to all the staff who aid in the smooth running of Eton Fives Station at Westminster School. Congratulations to all on another successful season.
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Wolverhampton Grammar School
It's been a quiet season of Fives for Wolverhampton Grammar School, with a change in leadership and a focus on recruitment through the school. Our U16 boys' and girls' pairs didn't manage to make it out to any fixtures, but the U14 boys enjoyed a day out at Eton for the U14 boys' beginners tournament in March, which they found very educational, and made it out of their initial group. We look forward to a busier year next year with an influx of new recruits and the continued progress of current players.