Berkhamsted Scholars & Rogues 2018

Anthony Theodossi reports:

20/06/18: The 12th annual Berkhamsted Scholars & Rogues competition took place yesterday on Tuesday 19th June.

CLICK HERE to see the competition video

We had a slight delay to the start with re-jigging of pairs due to last minute drop outs and illness but in the end had a fantastic entry of 32 pairs (much to my delight as that was what I had based the tournament on!). We had representation across Sixth, Senior Boys & Girls and the Prep Schools sites. Continuing the trend from last year it was pleasing to see the huge ladies entry with the tournament almost being a 50/50 split.

The 32 pairs were split into 8 pools of 4 across the 6 courts with the top two from each progressing through to the Last 16; as usual matches were quick-fire 6 minute timed games and with 8 rounds to get through players were constantly rolling on and off court at the sound of the whistle, stopping only to indulge in the fine BBQ set up by Aramark, though a few more savvy players took time to scope their opposition out on court and find their weaknesses!

There was only one tweak to the rules this year after a few complaints (from staff I might add!) from the 2017 tournament; in the past if a match finished on an equal score the win went to the side that reached that score first, this year it was a simple points system with 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. Of course there was still someone to moan about this change but as they were a member of the Boys PE department we ignored them and ploughed on through the tournament anyway.

Most of the pools went the way of the seedings; Mr Vila & Joe Hubbard (9Ti) dominated their group with two time Scholars & Rogues champion Mr Pett & Charlie Barrett (9Be) taking the 2nd place slot. New Head of English Mr Simons & Jack Pemberton (9Co) topped their group with Head of Russell House Mr Neill & Ella Grace Goode (9Ru) just behind losing in a tight group game 1 – 2! Last years’ finalists Mr Pritchard & Matt Foster (9Gr) cruised through their pool, while there was an impressive showing from Mr Wille & Barney Baines (7Ti) coming in behind them. Pool F was a battle of the Swifts school boys with Director of Sport Mr Gibson & Roman Priani (8Sw) claiming their group top spot reasonably comfortably with new Head of Incents boarding House Mr Sutton & Charlie Montero (9Sw) pushing into 2nd place, and in Pool G Mr Hockedy & Charlie Doe (9Be) cruised through to claim the top spot followed by the re-jigged pairing of Head of History Mr Savill & Ben Woodward Harris (9Lo) sneaking into 2nd place.

There were a few upsets to the seedings but is always the case in short timed matches where pairs can nick a quick couple of points even against far stronger pairings. In Pool C Head of Boys’ School Mr Thompson & Joe Thompson (9Gr) topped their group as expected but there were two re-jigged pairs in this group; Freya Butler (12Sc) had kindly stepped in to partner U15 & U14 Girls’ National Champion 2018 Lola Hannah (9Ns) and managed to take the win against Head of Churchill House Mr Grant & Max Butnick (9Lo), Butnick who had also kindly stepped in at the last minute due to Mr Grant’s original partner suffering illness, this meant Butler & Hannah took the 2nd place slot. Pool D also threw a spanner in the works when the Deputy Head of Tilman Mr Falder & Tom Alexander (9Ti) lost against the father/daughter duo of Vice-Principal of Business Operations (quite the title!) Mr Nicholls & Zoe Nicholls (12Ch); Nicholls & Nicholls had drawn a game in the groups against Head of Holme House Miss Ireland & Bethan Miles (9Wo) meaning they claimed the top spot by a single point, pushing Falder & Alexander into second place. The other turnaround of seedings came in Pool H where veteran player and Head of Tilman House Mr Mackay & Billy Mackay (9Co) beat Mr Eaton & Ellie Mathews (9Wo) putting them through in first and sliding Eaton & Mathews down into 2nd position slot.
After about 60 minutes of play we had the below Last 16 matches and results; with 8 matches to play and only 6 courts these were split into two halves and were again short timed 8 minute matches. Most of the games went as expected though the battle of the English Masters was a tight affair with Simons & Pemberton just pipping MiC Fives Pett & Barrett 5 – 4. Wille & Baines did well to record a 7 – 4 win over Gibson & Pirani while the Butler & Hannah Vs Nicholls & Nicholls match was an even tighter affair; the game ended at 2 – 2 so it was next point wins and after a tense 5 minutes is was Butler & Hannah who managed to squeeze though winning 3 – 2.

Last 16

Vila & Hubbard BEAT Neill & Goode 10 – 1
Simons & Pemberton BEAT Pett & Barrett 5 – 4
Thompson & Thompson BEAT Falder & Alexander 8 – 3
Butler & Hannah BEAT Nicholls & Nicholls 3 – 2
Pritchard & Foster BEAT Sutton & Montero 7 – 2
Wille & Baines BEAT Gibson & Pirani 7 – 4
Hockedy & Doe BEAT Eaton & Mathews 7 – 1
Mackay & MacKay BEAT Savill & Woodward-Harris 7 – 1

From here we pushed on through to the Quarter-Finals which were again quick 8 minute timed matches; the standard of Fives was very high across all four matches and there was certainly a lot of competitiveness and intensity from all the players, particularly the Mackay & Mackay Vs Pritchard & Foster game where there was a lot of hollering and shouting throughout! Mr Mackay had certainly stepped up his game this year ably supported by young Billy, so much in fact I would say it has been the best we have seen of him in this competition; alas it wasn’t quite enough however as they lost in a very tight game 2 – 3, had it been singles Fives Mr Mackay would have dominated where he has a world ranking (apparently) in this version of Fives (which no one has heard about!). There was a similar battle with Simons & Pemberton Vs Thompson & Thompson, albeit with a lot less noise! The game was tight all the way but it was Simons & Pemberton who came out on top, again, with a 3 – 2 scoreline.

Quarter-Finals

Vila & Hubbard BEAT Butler & Hannah 6 – 1
Simons & Pemberton BEAT Thompson & Thompson 3 – 2
Pritchard & Foster BEAT Mackay & Mackay 3 – 2
Hockedy & Doe BEAT Wille & Baines 7 – 1

And so onto the semi-finals! These were again timed games but with a slight increase to 10 minutes. There were two things to note of these matches; the first was the large representation of PE monkeys with Mr Simons being the only academic (and gentlemanly!) staff member on court. The second was that all of the boys involved represented our top two pairs across the Y9 group, a real sign of how much input the pupils have on these competitions and how high the standard of Fives is becoming. Semi-Final 1 saw the ‘powerhouses’ of Hockedy and Pritchard facing off with both displaying a booming cut they had made good use of throughout the tournament. It was therefore wonderful to see both young Doe and Foster show no signs of fear at their oppositions hard hitting cuts both pinging the balls back into play with almost little effort! This meant there was a constant flow of points throughout the game; it came down to the top-step play between Doe and Foster where Doe just had the edge over his fellow team mate with some punishing volleys into the buttress often resulting in a killed ball. This allowed Hockedy & Doe to rack up the points with a reasonably convincing 10 – 4 win.

The other semi-final saw Vila & Hubbard trying to fend off Simons & Pemberton, Simons in particular who had impressed all day while being aptly supported by his partner ‘safe hands Jack’. It was a tight game all the way with Vila & Hubbard only just having the edge over the opposition with both set-piece and open rally play. The score was poised at 5 – 3 to Vila & Hubbard, but as loose cut from Hubbard put them in danger pushing the score to 5 – 4, time was on their side however and with the final cut also game the whistle allowing them to stave off the danger; had there been just another 30 seconds or so it could have been a very different result!

Semi-Finals

Vila & Hubbard BEAT Simons & Pemberton 5 – 4
Hockedy & Doe BEAT Pritchard & Foster 10 – 4

And so the stage was set for a 15 minute final; this was Hockedy’s first final of this competition compared to Vila’s third (maybe even fourth?!) and young Doe’s third having reached it last year (winning it alongside Mr Gayton) while also reaching it in Y7, an impressive statistic as possibly the only player to reach the final as a Y7, 8 & 9. It was also Hubbard’s first final and he looked a little bit nervous stepping on court; this seemed to be a common theme for all four players however as it was a very slow paced final for the first 8 minutes or so. Points came very slowly and we had only reached a score of 2 – 1 in favour of Vila & Hubbard; it seemed all the players were too nervous of making any mistakes with a lot of ‘patting’ of the ball around the court an no attacking shots throughout. Suddenly however, without warning, there was an explosion of Fives from all 4 players! Hockedy & Vila had some ridiculous tough tussles on top-step with some fine volleying from the south pawed Vila which looked like killed shots in the buttress, but the athletic, almost cat-like, movement of Hockedy saw these balls retrieved to keep the rally alive. Hockedy had also been struggling earlier in the day to retrieve the three-walled shot but was now picking these up allowing him and his partner to get into the rallies and get more points on the score board. There were many rallies that went on for 30 – 40 shots! Doe and Hubbard similarly had cast aside their bonds as Y9 1st pair and National Finalists to go toe-to-toe with one another again on top-step, both attacking relentlessly when the opportunity presented itself. With time ticking away Hockedy & Doe found themselves 5 – 3 up but there was no sign of Vila & Hubbard giving up the fight; the Tilman team went up to serve and there were again a number of long drawn out rallies but all going the way of Vila & Hubbard allowing them to level the score 5 – 5. With only about a minute to go there was another long drawn out rally with both sides playing some incredible Fives, a thumping volley from Vila on top-step to kill it in the buttress against Hockedy pushed him and Hubbard into the lead 6 – 5 and with that came the final whistle. It was so pleasing to see the players immediately go to congratulate their opposition as opposed to their own team mate as a nod to the incredible match they realised that had all just been privileged to be a part of and give the spectators such a fine final (if not one of the best ever) to watch.

Final

Vila & Hubbard BEAT Hockedy & Doe 6 – 5

As always there were many staff both teaching and support involved in the tournament to allow it to run as smoothly as it always does; to Kevin Washford and the Aramark staff for the fine BBQ, to Les Bushell and the other ground staff for helping set up the Gazebos, to Ollie Moore and Jacob Whitby (10Be) for taking the time to come along and both film and take photos throughout the event (wait to see the video sometime soon!). To Ryan Perrie and Louis Fisher (13Na) for helping run the Pool stages, an always non-stop and arduous task! To Doug Foster (the creator of this competition), George Campbell and the MiC Martin Pett for always advising and helping make sure we set the tournament up to run as smoothly as possible. And finally to the staff, for taking the time to come along and either play or support in what is one for the highlights of the sporting calendar and without whom the competition would not work.

As always some staff and pupils have already begun conspiring ready for the 2019 Scholars & Rogues!

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